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...