Recently, however, I discovered a gelanggang teaching Silat Tongkat. A coincidence, since barely a day before, I had found a research paper written by Tuan Ismail Tuan Soh on another Silat Tongkat style in Kelantan. Although interesting, what was more intriguing was a chance meeting with a female pesilat who had recently joined their ranks.
She claimed to be the granddaughter of a famous freedom fighter who was among the band of pendekar in Johor during the era of the Communist Terorrist Threat. Her grandfather had never allowed any of his children or grandchildren to be 'given' what he has, according to her.
"But, among all my siblings, I was the only one who had the audacity and courage to practise with a parang. I'd wave it about like a toy," she said, much to my chagrin. Her smooth, well-built arms rested on the table we sat at.
"Can you tell I'm a pesilat? I don't tell anyone. Do I look it? The pakcik over there immediately knew who I was descended from. Some people have the ability to tell, I suppose," she smiled, indicating the old man busily burning his satay next to the food stall she owns.
"Although I never learnt anything, but recently, these last few years, I've been getting strange dreams, now I have my own silat techniques, they come naturally. And now I can naturally do massages and medicinal baths. It's strange," she lamented, inviting debate.
"Guess how old I am," she coaxed.
"Nope," I said vehemently.
"Oh, come on."
"Nope". I hate these types of games.
"I'm 30," she says triumphantly. "People say I use susuk, but I don't. My mother, to this day, doesn't have a line on her forehead".
"Where do you think it comes from?"
"Excuse me?," I ask.
"This silat knowledge. I have these dreams..."
Yeah. Yeah. Dreams. Okay. I have your answer, but I don't think you'd like it.
"So you want to study Silat Tongkat?," she asks, her topic dying away like a bad joke.
"Yes. What do I have to bring?"
"Nothing, just come and learn. Wait, have you studied any other silat before?" she asks, almost oblivious to the t-shirt with the fighting pendekar I'm wearing.
So, I rattle off everything I learned. I'm honest. So sue me.
"Have you had a bath yet?"
Excuse me??? I don't smell THAT bad.
"Mandi limau, mandi minyak?"
Ahhh. Yes, I have. Mandi limau I say.
"Good. Because if you haven't, then IT will follow you. It's okay if your guru is still alive. He can take care of you. But if he dies, then IT will follow you forever," she says matter of factly.
That's my cue. I take her phone number, give my salams and tell her I'll drop by the gelanggang if I have the time. Currently, the class times clash hard with my other activities (really!!!). I had to pick up my car at the workshop. The brakes should have been changed by now.
And so, I walk to the workshop in the drizzling rain, satisfied that one weirdness a day is enough.