Monday, 21 November 2011

The art of saying things indirectly

I have previously written about my interest in old Malay proverbs or peribahasa Melayu in a post last year. It takes a certain skill to know when a proverb can be aptly mentioned to apply to a particular situation. Sometimes the reader or listener may not actually know the meaning of the saying but when applied to the situation of the moment, the reason becomes clear by way of inference and comparison.

I still have not yet mastered such skill... and that is why I continue to read and re-read books by literary craftsmen on the subject. I am presently re-reading the first volume of Pepatah Petitih by Pak Sako. The book, first published in 1989, is a collection of articles written by Pak Sako for a local humour magazine called Gila-Gila. In his articles, the writer deftly explained the use various perumpamaan Melayu in different situations, one such common area of use is in satire. Since Malays have this habit of not being able to deliver criticisms directly, many proverbs came into existence to cover for the situation. Sometimes, a properly placed proverb carries more sting than the direct comment. Pukul anak sindir menantu.

The publisher of the magazine, Creative Enterprise saw it fit to publish the collection of articles in book form. The compilation comes in two volumes and I have both. The repeat reading of Volume 1 is now filling up my spare time during these days of wet rainy afternoons in November.

Pak Sako's real name is Ishak Haji Muhammad. He was born in Temerloh in 1909 and passed away on 7 November 1999, just one week short of his 82nd birthday. Reading through his writings, I am tempted to give my own twists to some of the old proverbs... especially those that apply to the present situation that I'm in. I'll start with the following :

Harimau mati meninggalkan belang,
Gajah mati meninggalkan tulang,
Manusia mati meninggalkan hutang...

That last line above is my own modification. The original ending to this pepatah Melayu is : `Manusia mati meninggalkan nama.' Well, if I were to die today, I doubt that I'll be leaving behind any name worth remembering.... tapi tinggalkan hutang tu memanglah banyak. Just a few minutes ago, I received a phone call from the credit card company, reminding me of overdue payment. Oh how I wish I can be debt-free. I guess it's time for me to change my spending habits. Besar periuk, besarlah keraknya...


mamasita said...

Yeah..Arwah Pak Sako..Al Fatihah.
Came a few times to my school when I was in Form 6.
He spoke so much..for those observant and hardworking ears, they listened intently.
I was one of those who dozed off halfway.
I am sure he had a pepatah for people like me.
Lazy where in the sea..:DD

Noir said...

actually Bahasa Melayu ni indah. i have to admit I'm guilty of kurang membaca karya penulis Melayu.

That last line got me smiling.

Oldstock said...


Sesal dulu pendapatan, sesal kemudian tiada gunanya. Life is too short for regrets. You have seven beautiful babies... that's an achievement in itself.

Let's look to the future. Putus disambung, hilang diganti...

Oldstock said...

Sdra Noir,

I'm sort of in the mood of modifying a few other old pepatah Melayu. Maybe I'll post them a bit later. But for now, let's have this one :-

Cubit peha kanan, cuba kiri pun sakit juga. Hmmm, ye ke? Tengok siapa yang cubit la kan?

Nurie said...

GilaGila was my fav magazine, I like falsampah from Profesor Serba Tau. This one I got from the net-

"Biar duduk kerana penat, jangan penat kerana duduk." Best kan? :-)

Interesting sebenarnya bila kita pikir2 kan logiknya pepatah melayu...when I get older, the more I understood the meaning it beholds, such as "air di cincang tak akan putus" bermakna betul meaning pepatah ni when we relate it to siblings relationship...

Oldstock said...

Noor, that PST in GG did give us lovely phrases, didn't he? I liked the ways his sayings have hidden messages behind them... sindiran tajam some of them.

Here's another old perumpaan Melayu that is seldom heard. I'm sure you can guess the meaning. It reminds me of a former boss of mine :

Di reban sendiri memegas, di reban orang monyok.