Friday, October 28, 2016

Who Is Frying Peanuts? (谁在炒花生)

I stayed with my grandparents until I was about 10 years old in a piece of rubber plantation in Kuala Kangsar. My parents were working outstation so they would come to fetch me during the weekends.

As you know my grandparents’ house was situated in the middle of rubber plantation and the toilet was at a distance away from the house while the kitchen was setup beside of the house. My grandpa used to fry peanuts in the kitchen somewhere after the midnight so that my cousins could sell them at the cinemas in town. There were three cinemas in Kuala Kangsar town but now no more.

During that time, rubber plantation after dark was in real total darkness as there were no street lighting. I was quite timid then and I dared not look into the darkness at a far because I was afraid of seeing ghosts. It was rumoured that that piece of plantation was haunted by many Japanese Imperial soldiers and then communist guerrilla ghosts.

One night, the rain was pouring down heavily and suddenly I had to answer the call of nature. When I walked out from my room and as I was preparing to wake up my grandpa so that he could accompany me to the toilet, suddenly I heard the noise of people frying peanuts in the kitchen outside of the house. So I thought it was my grandpa. Since grandpa already doing his business, with sleepy eyes I opened the back door and went to the nearest rubber tree and after murmuring “sorry datuk, please step aside”; I peed onto the tree root.

On my way back after my business, as I was closing the door; I saw grandpa walked out from his bedroom. I could still remember that I greeted grandpa once and he just said: “Hmmm…” Looked like grandpa was still in a dreamy state. So, I jumped straight into my bed and continued with my sweet dreams without too much thoughts.

Since it was still raining, grandpa and grandma didn’t go out to tap rubber tree. We all sat around a table to enjoy our breakfast.

My cousin started to ask: “Grandpa, did you fry peanuts last night?”

Grandpa replied with a queer look: “You know I won’t fry peanuts on rainy nights…”

Only at this point I realised that when I met grandpa last night, he was just walking out from his bedroom! So the question remained to be answered is: “Who is the person then?”

The atmosphere around the table suddenly turned icy cold and after a long silent, grandma started to break ice: “I think we need to set up a datuk’s shrine outside of our house. Didn’t I remind you many times that I saw a white shadow lingered in our kitchen, grandpa?”

Perhaps grandpa couldn’t stand grandma’s grumbling, so after the breakfast he started to build a small hut for the datuk spirit. Luckily, no more strange sightings after the setting up of the datuk shrine.

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