Monday, January 26, 2009

07/02: Wayang Kulit – The Legend Of Berembang


Hishamuddin Rais

Buah berembang buah bidara
Sayang selasih saya lurutkan
Runtuh rumah runtuhlah para
Cinta kasih kita buktikan

Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, when tigers, musangs, monkeys and wild boars were still roaming freely in Ampang, a very tired Youngman came and sat under a tree. He has left his village in search of work in a small mining town called Kuala Lumpur.

Luck was not with him. Jobs were scarce. With little money and no place to stay he decided to take a nap. His short nap was broken by the twittering sound of squirrels collecting fallen fruits from the tree. When he looks up he saw several monkeys jumping from branches to branches collecting and eating the same fruits.

Then he realized that he had just taken a nap under a Berembang Tree. To him this is a sign of good luck. He knew this fruits. The fermented fruit juice is said to be useful in arresting hemorrhage. The wall of an old fruit is given as a vermifuge – ubat cacing. The juice of half-ripe fruit is used to treat coughs. The juice of the flowers is good for treating blood in the urine.

So he decided to build a small pondok just under that Berembang Tree. Two days later he found a job as a porter at Jalan Sultan railway station. When he was asked to write his address at the job application he decided to call his little hut under the tree Kampung Berembang. That was how the legend has been passed down from one generation to another.

With gotong-royong, the jungle was cleared and more houses were built. Durian, rambutan, manggis and kelapa were planted yet the Berembang Tree was still there. The land title was then still held by God.

Kampung Berembang grew and became a real big kampong in Ampang. People – Chinese, Malay and Indian - came from all over the country looking for work in Kuala Lumpur, unable to pay rent, decided to build their houses in Kampong Berembang.

One day the villagers decided to divide themselves into Berembang Hilir, Berembang Tengah and Berembang Ulu. They also elected a Datuk Penghulu to be their spokesperson. Kampong Berembang stood as a green, tranquil with a vibrant kampung community.

Some years later, when our planet was slightly warmer, when many cars were on the road, shocking news came to the villagers. God Al-Mighty has given the land title to a very wealthy businessman. How this businessman managed to negotiate with God was puzzling the villagers. With God on his side, the businessman has put out notices asking all the villagers to vacate and leave.

So, the Datuk Penghulu and the villagers decided to appeal to God. They told God that they have nowhere to go. The rent is the city of Kuala Lumpur is unaffordable. Some of their children were still in school and some would be taking their examination. But God stood silent.

The businessman with his money has managed to buy some of the villagers and sent them off to a very far distance land. The Datuk Peghulu – the village trusted person - unfortunately was bought over by businessman and sold to a foreign ship.

The villagers full of tears made a last appeal by telling God that there would be soon a wedding in the village and they had invited many people to a big makan kenduri. If the businessman chased them out from the village, where the kenduri would be held?

But God stood silent.

One night when all the villagers were sleeping, the businessman sent his workers to cut down the Berembang Tree. The huge tree fell into some houses. The branches knocked down an electric pole and it fell into a house and spark a fire. Suddenly many houses caught fire.

The parents gathered their panicked stricken children. God who has stood silent for so long decided to voice His disagreement. God decided to send rain water to quash the fire. But it was too late. When the fire stopped Kampung Berembang was like Fallujah.

Later in the week, to please God, the kenduri kahwin fiesta was held. A cow was slaughtered to feed the wedding guests. People – uninvited - from many villages, near and afar came to Kampung Berembang to celebrate the kenduri. It was the wedding of the great grand daughter of the man who took a nap under the Berembang Tree.

So today, the legend continues. The story of Kampung Berembang is now told through wayang kulit by some of the great great grandchildren of the man who took a nap under the Berembang Tree. These children travel from village to village with their wayang kulit in a hope to tell the story of their kampung and spreading the seed of buah berembang.

Buah berembang buah bidara
Sayang selasih saya lurutkan
Dengar kawan dengar cerita
Terima kasih saya ucapkan.

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