The sequence of importance is as in the title but how it evolved was the reverse and I find all of them interesting and fun. The whole experience brought out the best in me and gave me a better perspective of how I see the world.
The objectives of the day were to get to Bera, Triang safely, get Nan engaged successfully and return home intact. We left home at around 0830 with most already attired for the occasion. Since my dear wife picked blue, and it was very much still syawal, I put on my blue baju melayu. Apart from my wife was Baqir who decided the night before rather than staying at home unable to go to any open houses to tag along. Good as well for me as I really needed a photographer as I can’t be talking and taking pictures at the same time. Well, I can but then I will annoy a lot of people and I did not wish to make it any harder for Nan. On the way out Sam called Ecah to find out where they were and was informed somewhere in Pandan Indah which meant we were about 20 minutes behind them. In order to save time I decided not to stop for breakfast and we agreed to meet at the Petronas just before Bentong’s tol plaza. As it was my normal route going back to Raub, confidently I floored the pedal and maneuvered the Ranger through the highway. At about 1 kilometer reaching the Petronas rest area Nizam called to ask our where about. He was 15 minutes behind us and we told him of our meeting point.
Along and Ecah were already at the Petronas rest area waiting. I checked on Nizam’s progress and since he was still about 15 minutes behind I decided to have a quick breakfast there.
We left the area together when Nizam arrived. Driving his new Myvi and with his injury Nizam decided to drive slowly and carefully where as Along with his family inside the car decided to be cautious. I was not impatient but they were too slow for me so I sped on the highway and was very early and the first to arrive in Temerloh. As I was driving into Temerloh town Nor called to ask our where about. Since we were early we decided to just take our time and meet in Bera. I duly concurred and knew what I wanted to do straight away. Explore the new Temerloh. As I was driving in I was really surprised by the development around me so much so I lost my sense of direction until we reached the round about just before the sungai Pahang Bridge. I turned left and left again at the next junction to drive into the old Temerloh town. Even that I was a bit confused by the new building and developed areas. I was helped by the need to engage my striped good friend – Kawanku. When I saw the building I stopped to withdraw some money and stood for awhile to make sense of the surrounding. Only then I saw the old police station as well as the old Temerloh town ahead of it. And I was immediately in a very familiar territory to take charge. I drove into the old town area and identified few familiar buildings including the Mosque and the bus station. I was not looking for anything in particular but if I were to chance upon a cheap decent bicycle I’ll buy one as I saw one quite a big bicycle shop on the way in. My wife is into old fashion kitchen ware now and the old town shops would be an ideal place to find such items. We did not find anything worth stopping for so I drove out of the town towards the route to Bera and Triang. Since we were still very early I drove slowly and took my time photographing things that I felt like. One of them was a nice surprise – as I approached a corner I saw a sign with a very familiar logo stating Mengkarak Station. Through out my many years going home on the train to Kelantan and Temerloh Mengkarak was one of those small, quiet and dark station that we stopped at the very early in the morning. I do not know about others but I always wondering the life around it during the day. That day I knew what it was like. It was not what I thought it was like. It was, even then, more vibrant and full; of life.
Almost the whole journey to Bera was along side the mighty Pahang River. The road was quite good to maneuver through comfortably. At 1140 we arrived at the traffic light in Bera town. I drove a bit further and turned left into a row of shops. It was then that Sam mentioned that Nizam was behind us. Without prompting we search for interesting place to stop and we chose one promising hardware store. We took interest of what’s inside the store as it was full with necessity required by Felda settlers as much as river fishermen. In the end Sam bought a nice periok. With not that many option we crossed the road to the other side of the town and then decided to drive ahead to Felda Mayam which was the second furthest Felda in the area. It was a good 20 minutes drive. Nizam planned to stop at the coffee shop at the junction to Felda Mayam. Luck had it the Eddy taking the others coming form his house from the other direction arrived at the junction at the same time. SO we drove straight in towards the mosque to prepare ourselves before we proceeded to Ila’s house. It was already 1234. I did not really know the plan but was told by Nan the host was expecting as at 1230. Nizam suggested after Zohor but since we agreed to be there at 1230 I made a decision to go then. After putting my samping and songkok on we drove towards the house.
The house was at the edge of a small hill forming a cluster of 20 houses around it. At the top of the hill was a beautiful gated muslim cemetery. Being at the top of the hill, with hardly any big trees and clean it was more like a garden. The instruction given to us was to enter the cemetery on a good tarmac road and to come around to park along the small road in the cemetery compound. I chose to park close to the gate so that it would be easy to get out later. AS I was parking the Ranger Then I heard someone yelling ‘senget nak tertonggeng tu’ and look at my side mirror to see a white Toyota wish was sort of hanging on its belly on the edge and frantically somebody was running over to pull it down. What a drama, initially I intended to reverse and park there but trying to let other use the spot I moved forward. It was Asri and everyone commented after that he was not driving a Ford Ranger like Pak Cu.
The little drama did not help to ease my anxiety. Nevertheless we could not let the host waiting and quickly gathered everyone. Leading the group we walked towards the house which was already full with the kampong folks waiting, I guess since 1200. I said my salam and shake everyone’s hand before I took my seat normally reserved for the head of the delegation in any majlis bertunang. As I shook every hand moving along the line I tried to absorb the environment deciphering whatever the situation I could. I felt some eyes were checking me out but I was not worried which was a good indication for me. After making myself comfortable before the small talk I looked at the faces in front on me. The man on my left was definitely the father of the bride and I thought immediately on his left would be the person that I would be talking to. If he were the person I could see him being thoughtful and knowledgeable. His strength and the respect for him were obvious making my anxiety grew and I could be in trouble. A young gentleman started to fiddle with the PA system and once working started to address the room firstly to welcome us and eventually introduced a man sitting almost directly in front of me as the Tok Ketua and the would be spoke person for the host. I was a bit relief. As the young gentleman finished with the initial introduction he passed the microphone to the Tok Ketua. The first few words that came out of the Tok Ketua’s mouth made me smiling inside. He was even more nervous than I was. I relaxed a bit and started to listen to his welcoming address. To my surprise once he was done with the introduction he straight away addressed the issue at hand to get the ball rolling. He was in a hurry to finish this unpleasant, to him, business I said to my self and became more relax. I knew straight away whatever words that will come out of me would be acceptable and the jokes that I was going to tell would be working. Another microphone was passed to me. With the mike on I seriously thought I would start my introduction with a pantun. Then not wanting to create even more tension on the part of the Tok Ketua I instead introduced myself with a jest of jokes followed by an invented story of my own before officially putting forward our hajat of the day. The Tok Ketua without missing a beat said something like correcting me that the majlis was a merisek first and bertunang second. I was caught by a surprise but the To Ketua excused me saying it was ok and rushed the whole thing with direct questions about the money matters, dates and all. I was not sure whether he was trying to corner me with a knock out punch or just plainly ignoring my question. I had just actually asked about bunga di taman yang ingin disunting bernama ….. followed by the expectation of the host in terms of hantaran and whatever else. He answered as those should be our action to recommend. I smiled at my nephew who was sitting on my immediate right. I was thinking hard what to do next as everyone was expecting for me to say something. I decided to be as direct following the Tok Ketua leads. I said as was informed to me after a discussion with the family the hantaran would be such and such amount hoping that it would open up a discussion. Instead the Tok Ketua took it as a fact repeating the figure and accepting the akad meminang. He continued to ask about the period of engagement. I replied with a joke about my nephew being dah gatal nak kahwin and offered a suggestion to let us put it as a year. I joked in the event the economy got better quickly we can do it even earlier. The actual date will be discussed and decided between both families. I asked apart from the hantaran what else would be expected of us and the duit hantaran when are we suppose to deliver and in what sum. The answer to my question was as much a surprise as well as assuring. No, the hantaran was all it and it should be delivered in full three months before the actual date of the nikah.
Again, the Tok Ketua was clearly trying to finish the ceremony off. I jumped in as soon as I saw an opportunity in the event putus tunang what would be our course of action. The replied was something that I like very much, ‘Kita megharapkan yang baik jadi sekiranya berlaku perkara yang disebut kita bawa la berbincing dengan baik dan mengambil jalan putus yang terbaik. Kita sesama keluarga berbincanglah.’ With that only I think matters at hand could be closed. As if trying to have a final say the Tok Ketua continued to close the majlis by calling the man sitting next to the bride’s father to recite a doa. The imam started by commenting that he was glad that despite talking about money and adat we had adopted a virtue or proper conduct in meminang. Compromise, acceptance and trust in each other would certainly a good started for better family relationship.
After the doa the Tok Ketua proceeded to announce the majlis menyarongkan cincin which I could not show to the father of the bride first. I just follow the lead again and let the ceremony to continue as announced by the Tok Ketua. I relaxed a bit knowing everything is in order. I started talking to the father of the bride to learn more about life in tanah rancangan like Felda Mayam. Honestly I got more interested about to place and would not mind to stay overnight there to experience more. It was obvious the live you have in town despite the claim of contentment it was just physical most of them. Life in places like the Felda has it own soul and tranquility. The Tok Ketua and the rest of other guests eventually politely left. I shook and thanked most of them.
While the ladies were still busy taking photos En Sharif the father of the bride invited me to eat outside. As expected the spread was local food that included ikan patin masak tempoyak. Even though I cannot take the ikan patin the other lauk were something that I was not going to miss. You can bring my doctor sitting next to me then I’ll still eat the food. They were that good and tasty. If it would make it less worrying I limited myself to just two plates of rice ha ha ha. Looking around it was only us that were just eating indicating that the rest of the guests had eating earlier. Had we waited till after zohor it would have been disastrous. We continued to eat comfortably not wanting to disappoint the host. The father of the bride sitting next to me was quite chatty and he shared a bit of his life history. The hardship of their early life in the Felda was so obvious. I know the younger generation would not have a clue as to what En Sharif was talking about. There is a definite vast difference between hearing about it with being there and experiencing it yourself. Sadly, though for people like En Sharif most of their children would grow up just to leave the Felda to work and live somewhere else. It was not anybody’s fault as naturally their children being a bit more educated would be working in cities like KL. Only a lucky few that have their children taking over the plantation. The program brought about a new generation of settlers but at the same time killing the program itself. I was told most of the plantations were given back to Felda to care.
Once most of us had eaten I thought we were ready to leave. Then we were invited back into the house for tea. We were served cool milk and a bit of kueh. We stayed a bit longer and eventually I asked everyone to not take any more time than necessary to leave the house. Once again I thanked everyone and left for home via Eddy’s place.
Eddy took us through the plantation back route via Chenor to his house in Kg Awah. The route was narrow bur big enough for lorry to pass through. If you were driving a 4X4 like we you would have loved the route and anybody slow in front of you, you would think it was a nuisance Once at Eddy’s place we said our prayers and rest a bit. Around 1730 I decided to hit the road home. As I was driving from Kg Awah to the Temerloh town we chanced upon a Pasar Malam along the way and we stopped. A sense of adventure and serendipity were so strong for me not to stop.
When we were back on the road it was a matter of how fast we can get home to me. At approximately we were safely home around 2300.
For the pictures please click below: