Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Revenge Of Giant Python (蟒蛇精复仇记)

Reticulated python is one of the largest and longest python species found in Malaysian forests. It can reach to a length of 7m and a weight of a quarter ton. My grandma was a rubber tapper who stayed in a rubber tree plantation behind Kuala Kangsar railway station had many encounters with these giant pythons during the 40’s and 50’s.

During my visits to my grandma’s place, she used to tell me many stories about her strange and eerie encounters with spirits and wild animals. Amongst those wild animals, snakes namely king cobra and giant python are two most feared ones. The former one is deadly poisonous while the latter one killed by strangling its victims. My grandma said as a rubber tapper, she had to wake up very early in the morning; somewhere like 4am and then cycled for about 20 minutes into the rubber plantation which was situated near maiden jungle at that time. The rubber plantation where she worked at was not very organised like those of today’s. For one thing, the grass was always taller than man for sure.

For many times, when she cycled passed an old well where she used to bail for some water; granny could hear something smashing against the well. For many times too, granny ignored the noise until when her curiosity made her veered off her usual route and approached the well. There granny saw under her headlight, a giant python was smashing its bulging body against the wall of the well. Apparently the giant python had devoured some wild boar and perhaps the boar was too big for the python and it was trying to smash its stomach load to a more manageable size.

 I will leave the king cobra alone for now and to tell you a story about the said “revenge of giant python spirit”. This story happened in the 60’s:

As I have said that the rubber plantation was situated beside a maiden jungle during until the early 60’s. The maiden jungle was a vast piece of dense tropical forest and it is beyond doubt that the forest was home for many exotic animals. It was said that during that time, a British company that owns the rubber plantation wished to expand its territory into the maiden jungle.

The beginning of this story was that a rubber tapper who was on his way to work in the dark suddenly rammed his bicycle into a giant log. At first he thought some logger had accidently left the log. Since the ‘log’ blocked his way and that the said ‘log’ was so long that he could not see both ends of it. So having no choice as this rubber tapper did not wish to return empty handed, he took out his machete and started to chop the ‘log’ into halves. On the first chop, this rubber tapper felt the texture of the log was a little too cold and relatively flexible. Then on the second chop, the ‘log’ moved and instinctively, he knew that the ‘log’ was instead a giant python! So, having no second thought, he ran as fast as he could back to his village to tell the story. No one seemed to believe his story.

However, another plantation worker had a second encounter with the giant python and the news of the giant python spread like wildfires. Eventually this news reached the plantation supervisor who was a British. This gentleman decided to get rid of the python as it was apparently a threat to his fellow workers. After some thoughts, the British decided to clear the forest by open burning since this is the most effective way to get rid of anything; and the cheapest too.

The British supervisor’s plan was at first objected by fellow local workers as they believed that the python was in fact the emanation of mountain spirits or at least, a pet of some mountain spirit. The British was not too superstitious and he ignored the plead of those seemingly superstitious local folks; so he ordered the plan to burn the jungle to be executed.

Strangely speaking, a night before the jungle burning, a worker known as Ah Fatt had a strange dream. In the dream, a giant python appeared in his dream and asked the plan to be delayed for 3 days because the said jungle was the meditative place for this giant python. It had been in the place for over 500 years and that the python was only short of 2 days to achieve enlightenment. Only after its enlightenment that the python could leave its existing place. So the giant python asked Ah Fatt’s help to convey its message to his superior.

As expected, the British refused to buy Ah Fatt’s story and decided to press on with his original plan.

Strangely speaking, no plantation workers willing to light the fire next day. Perhaps everyone has bought in with Ah Fatt’s story. After some yelling and grumbling, the British supervisor decided to lit the fire himself. The wind was blowing strongly that day so the piece of jungle was quick to be engulfed by flame in a very short while. Some plantation workers claimed to have seen the giant python twisted and turned in agony in the fire and at times, it raised its body as if wanted to fly into the sky; but eventually engulfed by fierce jungle fire and succumbed at the end.

The most bizarre thing was that as the jungle was burning, suddenly an explosion occurred within the flame and a piece of burning wood suddenly flew towards the British supervisor’s car and hit the car on the spot. Almost immediately the car caught fire and exploded with the supervisor in it. Perhaps it was just a coincident or perhaps it was the revenge of the giant python; no one really knows until today.

One day after the burning, the plantation worker went into the burnt scene and collected the remains of the python and buried them beside a temple. The case was thought to have settled with one fatal ‘accident’.

A decade later, the temple was demolished to make way for the construction of industrial park. And a few years later, Kuala Kangsar town was hit by major floods that engulfed almost all of the small town for many years until Temenggor Dam in Grik was built in late 70’s. Many people thought the flood was the revenge of the giant python spirit; or maybe it was only a coincidence.

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