Monday, May 14, 2007

Cerita Datuk Lela 2

The Hero

‘Satu masa tu Pakcik terlepas cakap kat bos Mat Salleh tu.’
‘Dia gelak aja, tapi bini dia punyalah bengang kat pakcik.’
“We were wondering about the wound for days. We couldn’t figure out what caused the wound.”
‘Masa tu pakcik makan kat rumah kapten Mat Salleh tu’
“You did what? Yuk! You eaten human flesh!” Mat Salleh’s wife and she proceeded to the kitchen sink and retched.
“ You monster! I cant believe it that you did such a thing.” she continued.

One time Datuk Lela was stationed to guard Tuan Mee Estate. There was the estate house and office, and the school house. At 2am, there was sporadic gunfire from across the fence, there were only a few of the Malay Regiment stationed at the estate at the time, which also include his boss, the kapten Mat Salleh.
The small company that Datuk Lela with couldn’t hold the continued and sustained attack. The kapten Mat Salleh got shot in the leg. The gunfire was coming closer and closer. Datuk Lela made a split second decision to drag his commanding officer away from the main house through the back of the building, dodging the gunfire with pistol on one hand. He dragged his boss through the night, only stopping for rest when really tired. Two of his Malay Regiment colleagues were killed in that attack.
This deed earned him Pingat Gagah Berani from the late Sultan Selangor on His Highness birthday celebration, which earned him the title Datuk. Datuk Lela showed me the picture of the day when he was bestowed the medal. The picture was a bit grainy, the hall was not that big, about 10m by 20m, the Malay women were wearing kebayas and there was a few mat salleh in the picture.
Datuk Lela spoke with pride, his voice was loud and clear. He was remembering the overrun of Tuan Mee Estate as clearly as it was yesterday. His cried later after telling me the story, overcome with emotion.

‘Zaman dulu, kalau cuti Pakcik selalu pegi Kuala Selangor tu. Ada kedai kopi kat pekan tu, selalu lepak kat situ.’
‘ Kedai kopi yang dekat jeti feri tu kan’ I conferred.
I remembered following my father to Kuala Selangor in the early 70’s to pay annual land tax. Back then there wasn’t any bridge. Our mean of crossing was by boat at Pasir Penambang or by ferry at the current bridge site. The ferry crossing for pedestrian was free, satu ringgit for car and dua ringgit for empty lorry. Of the lorry is fully laden, you were not allowed to cross there.
‘Kadang kalau dapat cuti hari Isnin Pakcik pegi Tanjong Karang pegi pasar Senin kat Tanjong Karang tu.’
Mondays has always been the market day in Tanjong Karang for time immemorial. Well as far as I can remember.
‘Satu masa tu ada pertandingan ratu cantik kat pasar tu.’
Oh, I have never heard of beauty contest at weekly market in Tanjong Karang. That was something new. I must have been back in the 50’s or early 60’s.
‘Ratu cantik ni punyalah bangga, dia jalan lah dari gerai ke gerai. Masa tu pasar nya kat tanah dia batu kerikil. Si ratu cantik ni pakai kasut tumit tinggi. Dia jatuh terjelepak, kepala pecah kena batu kerikil berdarah kat dahi.’

To be continued.

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