What I Am Doing Now (Serunai Mentakab)
It was in 1978 that I knew somebody from Mentakab, Pahang. It was a brief encounters of some three to four days and I couldn’t remember his name now. He came to visit his sister working in Kampong Raja, some 10 km away from my house in Jerteh. Kampong Raja is an administrative town of the Besut district and there are many government and its agencies’ workers staying there. And at that particular time, Kampong Raja was having a sort of festival and there were stalls selling all sorts of wares, stage-shows and people. I came to know this guy from Mentakab whilst watching the local band playing Deep Purple’s Sail Away.
‘The guitarist is awesome! You know him? A local guy?’
‘Yeah. He is one of the best guitarists around. Hey, where are you from? We have never seen you around before… and your dialect is… different.’
‘Hey. Yes. I am can’t remember from Mentakab. Nice meeting you… I am visiting my sister. She’s living somewhere around here in Kampong Raja. Hey… good song, eh? Sail Away…’
Mentakab has become a metaphor for me now. Mentakab is the town where U-Wei came from. It is a fast growing town in the district of Temerloh, Pahang. There is a Sungai Semantan flowing through the town into Sungai Pahang.
I would imagine U-Wei as a boy growing in 1960s Mentakab. Diving and swimming the Sungai Semantan (or was it Sungai Pahang?), and running around the river’s bank looking for his future: He found, this U-Wei, found strips of the coconut leaves and made a pipe – a long pipe indeed he made that he couldn’t hear what he was blowing! He, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, blew his pipe and all the Mentakab children followed him into the Pahang jungles! U-Wei was and still is the Pied Piper of Mentakab!
The ‘Serunai Mentakab’ that I am making now is for U-Wei to blow his magical tunes again. Made from filmstrips of ‘Buai Laju-Laju’, this ‘Serunai Mentakab’ will produce sounds or tunes that only U-Wei knows.