I've used this proverb so many times and yet I have never fully known what the word `pekasam' means. Until last week, that is. But we will get to that part shortly. I first like to continue with the story of my nephew's wedding from the previous post.
Some of you commented on the poignant moment when the groom cried while hugging his mother after the nikah procedure was over. This touching scene caused all the aunts (and some uncles) to shed tears too. The significance of the moment can be understood by knowing some history. Twenty-seven years ago, Fathhullah Azmie, was born two months premature. When he came out of his mother's womb, he was slightly larger than an adult's palm. The first month of his life was spent in an incubator. It was a touch and go situation. His parents were not sure he would make it. By the grace of Allah, he pulled through and survived. He has grown up to be a fine young man who is now a medical doctor posted in the rural outback somewhere in Pahang and on the way to starting a family of his own.
The nikah ceremony actually started in jovial mood. My wife's siblings are mostly jolly folks. We like to poke fun at each other. As we say in Malay, memang kuat bergurau. The bride, Nur Wahidah, being the newest addition to the family, is not spared either. But she's a good sport and she took all our jests in her stride. The following incident illustrates an example.
The day after the akad nikah is the reception at the bride's home and it includes the bersanding ceremony. Our entourage arrived at the reception right on time and assembled at the road junction a few metres from the house. The bride was supposed to come out and meet her groom outside, after which both of them would walk together side-by-side towards the wedding dais.
All of us from the groom's family waited in line for Wahidah to come out. When she arrived, she stood in front of us expecting to be paired with her groom but Fathhullah was nowhere to be seen. We were all mischievously grinning when one of the groom's sister jokingly said, `Alamak! Kita lupa bawa suami awak la... Nampaknya tak boleh nak bersanding hari ni.'
Wahidah nonchalantly replied, `Takpe... bersanding dengan Ucu pun boleh.' Ucu in this case, refers to the groom's uncle who is also my wife's youngest brother (he's the guy holding the mike for the groom in one of the pics in the earlier post). As it happens, Ucu is still single.
We all had a good laugh.... way to go, young lady. You'll fit right in with our family.
Upon arrival at the house, we heard two loud bangs. This young man fired the shots into the air, apparently as a form of greeting to the newly-weds. I had him pose proudly with his gun for this pic. Talk about a shotgun wedding!
Right... now back to the story of pekasam. Before the bersanding ceremony that morning, we went to the Pekan Rabu in Alor Star to look for some breakfast. At a foodstall on the ground floor, the wife and I had some mee hoon sup utara while our son had something called nasi goreng brazil (see pic above). How's that for being creative in naming a dish!
After breakfast, we browsed the other floors of the Pekan Rabu and came across some stalls selling ikan pekasam. It is the first time I've seen the pickled fish as they are not available in Johor. I later found out the the pekasam process involves fermenting the fish (generally the fresh water variety) in dry-roasted ground rice plus some salt. The two main ingredients of pekasam, namely fresh-water fish and rice, are widely available in the northern states as compared to the south. That is why I never came across pekasam before, except in a Malay proverb.
There's something new to be learnt everyday. Now if only someone can explain to me the `menyeluk sampai ke pangkal lengan' part...