Tok Siman, enjoying the good life

I have heard of his prowess as a footballer. My kampung, having a school with the biggest playing field in the district have a history of good football teams. He must be the Jalal of his time. The late Jalal was my classmate who played left wing. The girls would be shouting his name loud everytime he dribbled to the envy of a kaki bangku like me.

Back to Tok Siman, he was my nenek’s blue eyed little brother, an adopted brother. It was nenek who told the stories of Tok Siman the footballer.

Tok Siman earned his living as a fisherman. You could see that this was a seafarer. Sturdy, well built torso combined with the legs of a footballer, not unlike Mokhtar Dahari. The sampan was not big, but those were the days before the trawlers when the days catch would give a fairly comfortable living.

There were a few nights when he would land a boatful of kembong and we were awaken to help him free the fish from the nets. It was bountiful.

On other ocassion tok Siman would be the supplier of fish to nenek. He would make sure that the selangat or the cencaru was included for me to grill before going for my afternoon session school. For that I am eternally grateful.

When he was not going to sea or repairing his sampan and nets, Tok Siman would be trapping the merbok. He had a few buddies, tok busu was one. Hanging on  a few bamboo poles or just outside the windows were his prized merbok. An ensemble of merbok singing with Tok Siman the maestro doing the aargh and kong, sparring the merbok were sights and sounds of the kampong.

His abode was humble, a typical fisherman. Even the land was given by nenek and so was the house. To him houses were temporal. It was the outdoor he loved. Mak would often said it, ” jangan jadi nelayan, jangan suka main burung, hidup tak senang”.

The evenings, it would be zapin and ghazal time. We had a zapin party, the term used for the 6 piece or so zapin ensemble. Wak Rahmat was the gambus or oud player, wak moh the violinist, the  rest playing the gendang and Marwas. Tok Siman was the elegant dancer, complete with the shaking of the head the zapin way. It was fun time. My Abah ,the imam would ocassionally join the dancing, unthinkable by the standard of the present day talibans and religionists. That was religion or the way of life back then, the seamless good life.

If not doing the above Tok Siman must be with Nek Yam, the woman of his life. I do not think he was a drinker, no tuak and no toddy. It was just women and song. With Nek Yam, he had 24 children.


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