Hamzah and myself, we were paddling our canoe around Terusan Pulau Besar yesterday at dusk. Pulau Besar gained its notoriety some 30 years back in the 80's when the post Vietnam war Vietnamese refugees first landed in Teganung in huge numbers. The then Minister of Defence, Dr M wanted them shot at sea. The numbers swell to the point finally all of them were transferred to an off shore island, Pulau Bidong.
Terusan Pulau Besar enveloped Pulau Besar between the raging South China Seasea, separated by a thin strip of sand, and the muara of Sungei Merang. It's water is murky and dark, typical of all mangrove swamp within the Setiu basin.
Both of us know that there were incidental sightings of juvenile crocodiles, three to four feet in lenght,, basking in the noon sun ,on the bank of the abandoned almost completed massive club house and twenty or so abandoned exclusive bungalows near al Qalwa.
Al Qalwa happened to be a small piece of heaven on earth, on that thin strip of sand,[ opposite Redang Island ],sandwiched between the raging South China Sea in February, and a small 'alor' called Sungai Telaga Papan, and shortly joining into the dark calm water of the Terusan Pulau Besar, at Pantai Telaga Papan, Merang, Teganung Darul Runtuh.
[ why Darul runtuh?......Everything in Teganung are in a state of possible 'runtuh', from the stadium, the masjid and even the yet to be opened Lebuhraya Pantai Timur. I do not foresee any possible drastic change in this state of affair until we send one or two present or past numero uno of Malaysia behind bars! Only then will there be a change of our paradigm of governance and accountability, hopefully percolating from the top down. But of course this is another matter worth writing a post doctoral thesis on. But who is going to write and act on this. Our professors in the universities are at present 'kangkong' professors!. Our AG and IGP, nothing to shout about! Both extreme example of mediocrity.....this is a digression, of course, an important one for me at least, otherwise I end up shooting some blokes somewhere. ]
Three weeks earlier while passing a group of fisherman manning and repairing their boats on the river bank, I jokingly asked whether 'there is anything big' in the water. One of them shouted back, in local Teganung/Kelantan linggo:
'kalu demo rasa gedeguk, tu jolo lah!'. [ if you feel something bumping your canoe from underneath, that is it! ]
Hamzah and myself, we took that as a joke and carried on, but not for long. After about half a kilometre around the terusan, we turned back. The water looked too murky and still, to our liking.
This time on I told Hamzah we were going full scale around the island and explore further. We planned to go round the island and head back to al Qalwa in a round about fashion. But when we reached the deepest segment of the terusan, furthest away from our pondok, about one kilometre, we notice a school of fish jumping out just suddenly over the surface.
'Ada benda besar ni Dakto!.......', Hamzah , my Pattani carpenter/builder muttered softly but with some anxiety and panic . Understandable. He was paddling behind while I was in front in the 2-men canoe. He was in a position of watching my back while his was fully exposed!
Just shortly after that I felt the canoe being shakened badly and grazed from below. Just to reassure myself, I shouted to Hamzah,
'Guano demo nih Mezah tebolah sangat nih?!' [ why!,, why are you so clumsy, Hamzah? ]
' Tidok ambo Dakto!' [ not me Doctor! ], Hamzah answered, and I could detect a sense of panic and urgency in his voice. He must have been thinking on the same line as me.
Both of us looked back and saw a bronze hump separating two icy eyes, surfacing to the left of our canoe, some 40 feet away.
The snort to the eyes was about 2 feet something!
'OMG! This is the infamous estuarine crocodile, the ' buaya tembaga',...and they don't get to this colour unless they are fully matured', I thought to myself from my previous reading about estuarine crocodiles found near Sungei Linggi in Nogori, Endau Rompin in Johor and Sungai Kinabatangan, Sarawak.
Both of us , we did not have the time to say any prayer at that moment . We just paddled hard and fast towards the river bank.
Up till now I still cannot fathom why the croc did not come back to make a second 'pass' at us or at least 'ngap' poor Hamzah from the back, since our canoe is quite flat and we were sitting ducks!
It has the speed and the ability and natural instinct to do just that .
That is just in its gene.
That would have toppled the canoe easily.
But it did not!
Was it my solat Tahajjud and solat Tasbih the night before or was it the size or the lack of size of the croc that prevented it from coming at us for a second pass .
Probably both I think.
Anyway it is nice otherwise both of us would had a different 'address' by today....
HE is not yet ready to see both of us or rather we, in our varying degrees of heedlessness, are not yet ready enough to be presented to HIM. It is a mercy and rahmah from HIM for the 'delay'.
Mashaallah, al Hamdullillah.
Over dinner that night Hamzah confided to me ,
' Ambo dae Jani, sokmo senok perok bilo Dakto ajak kito gi main kanu...'
[ Myself and Jani, we get lumps in our tummies when Doc invite us to go canoeing..... ]
That reminded me of a poem we standard six pupils used to commit to memory some 5o or so years back. The Charge of The Light Brigade by Lord Tennyson, a poem on an actual happening and 'bungling' due to a gross miscommunication during the Anglo-Prussian War of 18something :
" Forward, The Light Brigade! "
Was there a man dismay'd
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the Valley of Death,
Rode the six hundred.
" OK Mezah dae Jani, lain kali kito gi main di Kenyir atau pong di Sungai Paka atau Sungai Teganung. Sana ambo dengar tak dok boyo! kito bolih main sining tapi tok leh lepah dari club house.",
I tried to reassure both of them.
I am not sure that is enough reassurance for Hamzah and Jani.
From their perspective,The Boss is always right, even when he is wrong!
I love Teganung.
|Still water runs deep.......200 metres beyond these boats is croc territory.|
|Pedro, retired ex-polo, Dr Nik, retired, ex endurance rider....|
|Old man and the sea..... |
|A one kilometre horse, a show horse,or an endurance horse, it is all about working on the 'mind'......working on Pedro to not fear the wave!|
|OMG!...I am getting prosperous!|
|The raging sea in mid February|
|al Qalwa.......far from the maddening crowd in kl; far from the national clowns of ntr,pandi and nazri; just the wind,the sun and yourself.|
|Beneath this calmness lies a secret.....|
Some photos of al qalwa : work in progress.