Monday, October 13, 2008

The Slap

The cane was never spared when I was growing up. Grandma was pretty adept at wielding it, mostly on my derriere and calf. Occasionally the sole too received a hefty dose.

True, I was the so-called ‘cucu kesayangan opah’ (grandma’s blue-eyed girl), but that didn’t stop her from knocking me black and blue for misbehaving. And I deserved every whacking I got.

Truth be told, it wasn’t just the cane. Her wooden clogs got into the act with my back more times than I care to remember, to the point where I could accurately gauge her terompah throwing skills and successfully dodged the flying footwear.

And then there was the “chilli” treatment, dished out as the ultimate punishment for using foul language (that woman lip-read like a pro; she could tell even if you swore under your breath).

Having one's lips "tenyeh-ed" (vigorously rubbed) with chilli would set one's extra-curricular activities back for a day, for the process would leave one feeling as though the lips had expanded tenfold (imagine collagen-injected lips, and only at the cost of one red chilli).

There wasn't much pain really, just discomfort. And of course unrepentant brat that I was, I would wear the 'new' lips, skewed, slurring speech and all, like a badge of honour. Milking it to the max I surely did.

While I wasn’t exactly a naughty child, I got on her nerves often enough to earn demerit points. I was tomboyish and more interested in hanging out with my friends, mostly boys, than in finishing my homework.

I was in my element climbing trees, stealing rambutans, playing rounders, galah panjang and hopscotch, the swing and the solid-iron carousel at the edge of the community padang.

It mattered not that sometimes I played in the blinding Bukit Besi rain with nary a care for my school uniform and canvass shoes, let alone my safety, from lightning, gushing waters et al.

Linguistically, at age 10 I was also quite eloquent in the mencarut (swearing) department, courtesy of my more daring schoolmates who learned them by hanging around the salt-of-the-earth kind; the mine workers and labourers.

It was the swearing part that got to her the most. She went livid at the merest hint of a swear word. My grandmother hardly shouted or yelled at me. Instead she would hiss under her breath, working herself up to a dignified, controlled fury before deftly lashing out with whatever was at hand.

Where Grandma was voluble, candid and quite temperamental in ruling the roost and doing all the disciplining, Grandpa was cool, quiet and reticent. He never raised his hand at me all the years I was growing up, until I was 14.

It was then that I became the unexpected recipient of The Slap, Grandpa's swift sleight of hand delivered with such dexterity and panache that it remains forever etched in the deep recesses of my mind. It also marked the first and only stinging slap I ever received in my entire life, then and now.

I was then in Dungun English Secondary School (now known as Sekolah Menengah Sultan Omar), chalking up good grades in my studies and actively involved in extra-curricular activities especially sports, representing the district in high jump and hurdles at State level.

I was also within the amorous sight of the 18 year-old head prefect who made no bones about his interest in yours truly. It was a heady, intoxicating feeling, to be coveted by the Head Boy who used an intermediary to deliver mush-choked epistles to the object of his fancy.

Every evening he would wait until I finished my game practice (volleyball or hockey). Then he would accompany me home, cycling slowly while I took leisurely strides to my house which was about 20 minutes’ walk from the school. He would see me to the door; only after I entered the house and closed the door would he leave.

One day we arrived at my house just as the muezzin’s call for Maghrib prayers (the azan) began. As he ushered me towards the front door, it was suddenly flung open from inside and Grandpa appeared, looking grim. The young man quickly extended his hand and salaamed, after which he beat a hasty retreat.

As soon as I entered the house, Grandpa closed the door, spun me around and delivered two stinging slaps, one on each cheek. They came so suddenly that I was caught completely off-guard. Shocked beyond words, I ran upstairs to my room and bawled my eyes out.

Strangely enough, no one said a word, not then and certainly not since. I cleaned up and came down for dinner, carefully avoiding Grandpa’s eyes. Grandma prattled on at the dinner table, as usual. The maid and our two workers (we had a sundry shop then) pretended as though all was well with the world.

Life went on. The boy left school, went on to Sixth Form and eventually to university, and naturally forgot all about me. I too left school, worked, married, went abroad, had children, returned home, went back to school, graduated, got divorced, remarried.

Grandma passed on; Grandpa followed suit 14 years later. There was no one left to explain and make sense of Grandpa’s lapse that led to The Slap.

My late aunt once theorised it could be the call of the azan that triggered him off. She could be right for Grandpa was a deeply religious man.

To see his teenage granddaughter clad in T-shirt and shorts, standing together side by side, in close proximity with a non-muhrim young man at the door smack in the middle of azan Maghrib was too much for the old man. It insulted his religious sensibility. Maybe.

I had wanted to include this in my post earlier on, but thought the better of it. With the benefit of hindsight, I think it is worth mentioning.

There was one particular line my late grandma was so fond of using, directed at me each time I cursed under my breath. She would go:

"Mu kato ggapo tu hah?? hah?? hah?? Muluk mache b**** naik tanggo!" (What are you muttering under your breath hah?? Your mouth is like the pudenda climbing the stairs!)

Oh God, what a graphic description! The old lady was a hoot!



You're a real story teller, my dear. I just love reading your stuff here. I'll be visiting here again, insyaAllah.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim, kucing ray yg alim.

Head Boy selalunya hensem, kan? kata Pak Malim sambil menggoreng ikan. Saya pun hensem jugak, kata Pak Malim sambil menembak gagak, tapi fish breath. Buka mulut, semua orang lari, kata Pak Malim sambil naik lori.

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, thank God mine was just a mulut laser but she taught me what daun kesum looked like and how to do the tulang belud. The only punishment I had from mine was never to enter the house before I could skin the coconut - tough one that.

Pi Bani said...

Ohh... ada scandal dengan headboy eh?? Agaknya your grandpa thought you lambat balik sebab gi dating kot!

Nasib baiklah I tak pernah kena lempang or anything of that sort. We were brought up in a family where the "stares" from our parents when we do something wrong were enough to scare us! Sekali-sekala kena cubit tu adalah, especially when it comes to mencarut.

MrsNordin said...

Your story is the same as mine, but in my case, it was my mother. We used to call her "Harimau Berantai". Hee.. hee.... so, go figure!

My dad never laid a hand on me either, except once. I can't remember what I did, but that one slap from him is the one that I remember most until today. Sedih sangat, kan? Sampai hati dia pukul kita... but we must be very naughty.

Tapi I tak pernah kena cili kat mulut. My mother always threatened me with that, but she never actually 'cabai' my mulut. Kesian you... I always wonder how it feels kalau kena tenyeh mulut ni dengan cili, now I know lah from your description.. :)

Kids these days are so lucky tak pernah kena pukul dengan emak/nenek macam kita dulu... sob! sob!

Anonymous said...

best betul you bring back our nostalgic moment with our family..

me too a tomboyish..hate man hate hate hate..most of the school boys do not want to cross my path..

bertumbuk sampai bengkak biru..bila ibu tanya..kenapa ni..

kena bola..abang sepak kuat sangat..

and yes...she will apply the minyak if i do not know what she is doing while she tought i am sleeping..

ingat lagi..bertempiaran budak lelaki tu lari..bila ada blind date..kawan pompuan I yang fixed kan..I am a loner sampai lah bertemu blog blog ni..sapa pun tak tanya kita sapa noo..

ramai tak sangka I am married to a lelaki..mesti kena mandrem..(acah jer)

talqin said...

ma... i'm willing to ciom both pipi yang penah kena slap tu... (hehehe another promise yang tak tau bila nak tunaikan)

Ummi365 said...

u remember all those stories so well. i pun pernah kena bantai dengan rotan sebab bergaduh with sister siapa nak mandi dulu. that was just once. dulu my father beliak mata pun i dah takut giler. now, mata i terjojol pun agaknya anak2 i ketawakan i.

Zawi said...

I agree fully with your auntie's theory that it was returning home after azan Maghrib that brought about the slap. He must have been seething with anger when he did that. A cool man he was and yet he lost his control over himself.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

norlela - tq and do come again. you have the most classic name! there is one old indonesian song titled Norlela.

Wahai Pak Malim, kucing ray yang alim

nak kata hensem takder la sangat
kata kama sambil makan pengat
macam cinapek matanya sepet
dahla tu suka makan kerepek
macam pak malim la jugak, suka kan?

kak Teh - despite kena piak selalu, she also taught me many useful things, one of which is how to jahit tulang belut, just like yours did to you.. bab2 dapur, she didn't trust me.. hehehe

Pi - in my grandparents' household there was nobody to jegil. there were 4 of us; grandpa, grandma, my aunt who was a nurse and me (yg memang tak makan saman)..

Mrs N - in a way bagus juga ada one parent yg garang, can keep us in line.. dalam dok garang pun, perangai kita mcm hantu jugak..:)

anon 11.30 - whoa! sampai bertumbuk? I dont recall bertumbuk with anyone though.. kena tumbuk by kawan kat skolah ada..

talqin - raya sebulan,, am still waiting for u to come ciom my hand mintak maap, nvr mind the

Ummi - nowadays our children semua tak makan saman, our own fault la kan because kita manjakan ..I am guilty of same..jegil2 tu takyah ler, buat perabeh boreh aja..

Pak Zawi - i am inclined to believe the same. hilang sabar the old man.. kesian dia ..

Kak Teh said...

your footnote!!! Puteri, that's exactly what my grandma would say, but in kedahspeak , of course, when we did our tulang belud badly! hehe, they must have graduated from the same charmschool!

kay_leeda said...

Kak Puteri,

Adusss!!! But if he didn't love you mountains and oceans he wouldn't have lifted a finger. Bak kata pepatah, sayangkan anak tangan-tangankan...

The head boy part is interesting indeed. Sure handsome punyer!! And those days not a problem kan main netball or hockey in school t-shirt and shorts. A sight you don't see happening in the schools anymore.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Kak Teh - sahlah they graduated from the same school.. such 'refined' language! hehehe

Kay - I am so very lucky, really, to hv grandparents who loved me so much they would whack me black and blue to show it..hahahah... betul sangat2, sayang anak tangan2kan.. tapi sayang bini janganla tinggal..LOL

Psstt.. memang hensem abih..:)

drbubbles said...

fuhh...reading the footnote - orang orang dulu punya expletives lagi penuh berkrim!

It reminds me of one of my uncle - kena halau dek mak sendiri - kena campak kain baju keluar rumah.lari bawa diri ke KL.Nasib baik moyang ambil dia dan bela sampai besar.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Tu la pasal Bubb, tak perlu F sana F sini, depa lagi 'kau' mencarut.. hahaha.. bab-bab campak kain baju ni reminds me of someone I know bergaduh lakibini, mesti ambik hammer robohkan katil. bila dah berbaik balik, ketuk semula..LOL .. aparaa...

Laptop said...

Budak budak jantan dok kena gempaq kot lain.
"Hang ketegaq baloq liat ka?, siap hang! Cuti sekolah, kerat dua lekoq guna kapak karat!"
Bab kena rotan, kira dah mangli laaa.
Tak pecaya? Pi tanya Pak Abu.
(Minta kaMa tolong translate masuk Inggeris sat. Boleh?)

Kama At-Tarawis said...

hehehe lap, suruh kak teh terjemah, dia oghang kedah jati dan tulin. saya kedah by virtue of association aja. tapi ketegaq baloq liat tauu..:)

Kak Teh said...

I hear my name being mentioned and thus I hope not to disappoint you:

The boys were subjected to other means of threats.
"You stubborn, thick skin you!, You wait, ha! Come school break, cut into two by means of a rusty axe!"
The bit about being caned, am already quite immuned, laaa.
Still dont believe me? Go and ask Father Ash.

Pp said...

Nicely told, although i am sure the sting from the slap will remain to ring in ur ears. god bless his soul...for I am sure grandpa too had a reason, and what he did in someway has left an impression to make who u r today - kind and compassionate!

I grew up in a house where a ratan was within sight of my siblings and i...fortunately, never once did I got to see it being used.

the only slap i ever got from my (arwah) mother was when she was swatting away mosquitoes while I was in dreamland.

ah...i enjoyed reading ur stories. pls consider me as one of your fan-club members!


anasalwa said...

Hi Kama,
This is my first time to leave a comment here. I've been reading your entries since two months ago I think.
Your grandmother sound a lot like my grandmother,but my grandmother was even worse because she hated all of us with all her heart. After all we were not her flesh and blood.
Anyway,I've always thought our grandparents generation had sick way to express their love.

Aida said...

Kak Puteri,

I am sure when ur grandfather slapped u, it hurt his heart more than your stinging cheeks.

I never learned to carut until I was in my teens and never in the company of adults. But now I am one, I never do it in the company of children ehhehe

Aida - was a wild child even though could not swear properly

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Kak Teh - I didnt even know what mangli was.. :)

Pak Payne - he was the kindest, gentlest of men. Sebab tu bila kena tempeleng se das berpinar my bijik mata, more terkejut than anything else..:)

anasalwa - alaahai, that's so sad. most grandparents actually spoil their cucus. mysef, for example, received both the whacking and the love and I actually cherished them even more for it. truthfully, i have yet to meet a wicked grandma, wicked mothers pernah..

Aida - am sure of it too... macam kita pukul anak lah.. we hurt inside tapi disciplining tu penting. the trouble with me as a child was that I had no siblings to grow up with.. so ramai kawan..

mekyam said...

Kama At-Tarawis said... Muluk mache b**** naik tanggo!"

omg... mati aku!

this a priceless. i'm laughing myself demented here. :D