I have travelled this road a few times before and have always been fascinated by the lovely kampung landscape that included paddy fields in the areas of Tanjung Karang and Sekinchan. As we neared Sabak Bernam, we can see many roadside stalls selling mentarang, a type of shellfish that lives in the muddy tidal flats along this particular stretch of coastline. I have not seen this type of shellfish anywhere else in Malaysia.
Also along this road I spotted a number of stalls selling `kekabu'-filled pillows and mattresses. Kekabu is a type of fluffy cotton-like fibre used as the pillow filling. Before the advent of foam or artificial fibres, kekabu was the main material found in pillows and mattresses. The fibre comes from the seed pods of the kekabu tree whose English name is kapok (ceiba pentandra). It is also known as the Java cotton tree. Kapok trees are quite huge... they can grow in excess of 30m height.
I remember as a small boy, there was a big kekabu tree at the back of my grandfather's house. When the family gathered there for hari raya, the older cousins like to frighten us younger ones by telling that a certain pontianak lives on this tree and would come down to suck our blood if we persist in playing outside past maghrib (sunset) time. It was a very good scare tactic... but it also created a problem. Kampung houses those days do not have flush toilets. Latrines were all located outside. You drop your poop through a hole in the outhouse floor into a bucket. A very hardworking gentleman would then come every few days to manually collect your deposits and clean the bucket.
The latrine at my grandfather's house was located next to the kekabu tree... and if there is a need for any of the young ones to do business at night, we dare not do it alone. Therefore one or two of the other cousins are forced to accompany the person doing the business. And because we were chicken-hearted, the business is done with the latrine door full open. If you are the one doing the business, then you'll have to live with the embarassment of having other people watching you crapping your stuff. On the other hand, if you are the one doing guard duty, you have to bear with the aroma from the outhouse while at the same time stealing glances at the imposing kekabu tree for anything that may swoop down from it and grab you by the neck. A classic lose-lose situation...
For the wedding at Perak the other day, we put up at a homestay not far from the bride's house. Next to this homestay is an old abandoned kampung house. In front of this abandoned house is a kekabu tree... and this was what reminded me of today's story.
An abandoned house with a big kekabu tree... brings back scary memories from the past.
|Don't want to be around this place after dark...|