Thursday, March 30, 2006

extract from "Founders"

(dinnertime in an Orang Laut boat, February 1819. Wa Hakim, a 15 year-old boy, has been clearing land for the British)

Wa Hakim: But Mak, Pak, you should have seen them! Eh, sis, pass the ikan bilis ok? They wear clothes, not just sarong and songkok, all over their body, down to here! (gestures at the wrist) And their hair is different colours! Yellow, red, white, blue…

Sister: I don’t know why you like them so much.

Wa Hakim: But they gave us so many things! Rice! Clothes! This thing!

(Sister puts it into her mouth, spits it out)

Sister: Yuck, what is it?

Wa Hakim: Nice right? It’s called tobacco. Remember the time we went to eat at the big wedding? When they had that thing that I never tried before? And I said, what is this thing? Like seagull, or bird-of-paradise? And they laughed at me. They said, Orang Laut so ulu, only eat fish. They said the thing was called chicken. You want to be so stupid forever?

Sister: No. I want to find out about the world. They come in boats. We also live in a boat. We eat and sleep in this boat.

Wa Hakim: Adik, you don’t worry. We can just move to the land, and the orang putih will teach us everything we want to know.

Sister: I don’t want to stay anywhere forever. I want to keep moving. (She jumps)

Wa Hakim: Sis! You wait before you swim! Later sure kena stomach cramps!

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