Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Twist To Old Tales

Many years ago a close friend playfully poked fun at me by saying I was old before my time because of my penchant for kata orang tua-tua (old wives' tales).

She said I always had a story to tell in relation to whatever was happening and that I was forever dipping into my grandmother's 'treasure chest' of quotations and sayings to prove a point.

Honest to goodness, I had never quite seen myself from that perspective. I guess it must have been galling for some people to hear me dispensing with age-old advice to suit all occasions.

But I can't think otherwise. I grew up with a convenient litany of do's and don'ts from one of the world's most persuasive grandmothers. So I am merely following tradition.

Grandma said never to leave your bed empty for three consecutive days for it invites unseen 'guests' to frolic on it.

If you have to, flip the mattress up against the wall or cover it with a sheet. Don't forget to strip the bed bare upon your return and put new sheets on, so you won't be sleeping on any bekas (stains).

In the kitchen, never leave food exposed overnight. Cover everything to avoid it being peed or spit on (honest!) by your ill-mannered "housemates".

Cover your head when doing "a big one" because these unseen pranksters sometimes take immeasurable fun in dumping the crap on you, literally!

Since I liked to sing (still do), grandma cautioned me against doing it in the kitchen for fear of me marrying an old man.

What the lady didn't know (she never did, thank God) was that I was hoping to marry an old man! (Just for the record, I changed my mind somewhat when I saw more of the world).

I can hear some of you twittering (in nervous laughter?) as you read these seemingly silly advice.

In all likelihood, my kids would roll their eyes heavenwards with a "there she goes again" look of dismay, while Pak Abu would be more to the point with just one word - mengarutlah! (what utter rubbish!)

Now let's put a modern twist to these things. Of course you shouldn't leave your bed uncovered. You don't want to share a bed with all kinds of airborne particles, do you?

And uncovered food? Well, anyone with half a brain can tell you that germs and bacteria thrive in exposed food.

As for covering your head while crapping, I think this refers to the old days when outhouses were the norm. God knows what lurked on the roof of an outhouse.

If you are doing it in the pleasant environs of your bathroom with its flushed toilet, hot-and-cold water and tastefully arranged floor and wall tiles, the need to sit on the 'throne' with a towel on your head seems comical at best.

And singing in the kitchen could be distracting. In days of yore when cooking was done over open fire using firewood, you had to pay full attention to the tasks at hand, or you might end up burning the house down!

Whatever the case, I will continue with my tales, old wives notwithstanding, because it makes one's life richer for the knowledge, ridiculous as they may be.

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