By Nurasilah Ali Sabri
My three mini Murtabak that went missing is still a mystery till today. It is a bit weird how it went missing just like that with no explanation. And yes, I am still disappointed. Luckily, the mouthwatering Nasi Ulam Cikgu beside Pasar Siti Khadijah compensated me for that and I can still vividly remember how good it was with the budu, ulam (raw vegetables) and all.
Somehow, this trip has been the most exciting trip of the year by far. The experience of new culture and lifestyle of people in Perupok, Bachok makes me reflect the kind of lifestyle people at various places like big city, Kuala Lumpur, and my very own hometown, Alor Setar. The whole experience was something that I will definitely treasure.
As a girl who comes from a small town, Alor Setar in my opinion is a city that still preserved the originality of the state. The town is mostly free of traffic jam during normal day and very quiet after ten at night. There is not much entertainment unlike Kuala Lumpur that is known for a city that never sleeps. Green and carpet like paddy field and old traditional houses are found everywhere. It is not a weird thing to find paddy field in the middle of the residence area. Although there are a number of traditional houses, there are designated housing areas too. But traditional houses are very common if it is at the village area.
Perupok too, is a small town where there is no after-work congestion. Compared to Perupok, its location that is near the beach makes anything that goes with it just perfect for me. Due to its location near the beach, there is a lot of water associate activities that could be carried out. The evening breeze of the sea just take my breath the moment I set my feet at the resort. The coconut trees are in parallel line and just match the beach, the heat and the breeze.
Later at night, the view was even more phenomenal. The moon is like a giant spotlight hanging in the dark pitch sky. It is so big that it reflects on the surface of the sea water. And it is enough to lighten up the whole place. Unlike Alor Setar, Perupok, in my opinion does not need much entertainment with this kind of blessing. About the type of houses, I could see that along the way to the resort, it could be said that more than sixty percent of the houses that I have seen are still traditional, wooden houses. There would probably be two to three non-traditional houses in between.
One of the most interesting things that I encountered in Perupok was that the signboard is different than anywhere that I have seen. There is Jawi writing at the bottom of every word. It is so unique and somehow reflects the status of Kelantan that is known as a religious state. Other than that, my observation tells me that not only the elderly that go to the mosque for the five times prayers, but also people that are from the middle age (thirty and above). The mosque is almost never empty because in between the prayer times, there are talks or any event organised and attended by the villagers. During my three-day trip, I noticed that nobody around there who does not cover their aurah especially for the women, which is quite a scene for me.
Kelantan just continuously amazed me. The lifestyle here is so different than what I ever imagined. Almost everything in Perupok is cheaper than what you could find in Alor Setar and of course, it is a lot cheaper compared to Kuala Lumpur. I have always thought that the goods in Kedah are cheap enough, not until I came to Perupok. For instance, you can still get three kuih (any kuih) for only a ringgit! Almost all kuih with same price! I remembered being so shocked at the Pasar Pagi. You can get not only cheap kuih but also other food. I might not be able to compromise the heat and all, but I can definitely compromise the food, no doubt.
What I could describe from my observation of people in Perupok, they lead a simple and laid-back lifestyle. Fifty percent of them work either as fishermen, or doing business and the rest are small jobs around the village. Less than fifty percent of them work in the professional level. I found out that a lot of Kelantanese own personal or family business, just like here in Perupok. They sell all sorts of things.What comes to my senses is that, you could find Kelantanese at the least possible place you thought would be. Probably it is true what my dad always say about them, they are good in running business.
Based on the interviews conducted, more than fifty percent of the elderly (starting at the age of fifty and above) are either uneducated or ended their education until primary school only. This is because of a few factors that contribute to that; one, the poor and hard life and second, it was the era of colonisation. One of the respondents says, “I was only seven and just started primary school when the Japanese came. So I had to stop (going to school).”
Because of low education, most of them (the elderly) ended up doing small jobs around the village or became fishermen instead because they possessed no qualifications or other skills. However, based on their stories, they are satisfied with what they have now. They might not be rich, have a big house or ride big cars, but they have enough. As long as what they have now is enough to support their family and their daily life, they are alright.
All these make me reflect more on my own life and others that are chasing more than we should be. Some people are not fond of luxury lifestyle. They are grateful and blessed with something much more valuable in their life. They have family members who stay close to each other. No matter what happen, they always get each other’s back. So they are not worried.
Probably for some people, they realise that money cannot buy everything. Yes, it is undeniable that money could provide us comfort and happiness. But, what if they are actually comfortable in their own way and happy with their own definition of happiness? For some, having a lot of savings in their bank account is happiness and security, but for some, being able to see their family members every single day is happiness.
Perupok has left me with so many fond memories. The lifestyle, the ambience, the food, the people, the scene and everything about Perupok gives me some sort of vibes that I cannot really define. Some might say that Perupok needs to be developed, but for me, I prefer to keep Perupok just the way it is. Because when “modernisation” intervenes, Perupok will lose its natural beauty and its originality.
Just like one of traditional songs of Kelantan (known as dikirbarat) that goes,
Beruntung benar ku jadi anak Klate
(How lucky I’m being a Kelantanese)
Tempat Melayu ramai oghe tino comey-comey
(Place where a lot of beautiful Malay women)
Hute belana bulih pakat tebe
(The forest could be chopped off)
Jale dale sunga pun banyok lagi ikey
(There are still a lot of fish in the river) ***