Monday, January 2, 2017

The Tongue (长舌)

I think I have told you that I liked to hunt for edible frogs (田鸡) during my earlier years when I was still in Kuala Kangsar.

During that time, the best place to get fat and juicy edible frogs was around a stretch of river flowing through a Chinese cemetery just located at the back of Talang Garden. That part of place was quite shady even at noon time as many tall trees overshadowed the river bank and part of the water passage. This is the place where oversized edible frogs were once in abundance but this place was also believed to be haunted by a female hung ghost.

Legend has it that a broken heart lady committed suicide by hanging herself on a big ara tree (ficus benjamina) brunch after WWII because she couldn’t stand the torturing of her drunkard husband. Consequently, the hung ghost was said to have haunt that part of frog-rich river bank; and those lucky (or unlucky) ones would have a chance to get a glimpse of this hung ghost during full moon night appeared to be hanging by her neck on the said ara tree.

Normally speaking, this lady hung ghost would not disturb those frog hunters or unwary passer-by; but there is no guarantee when someone just got a little too near the resting place of that lady hung ghost. I was one of the lucky few who had sort of ‘intimate’ affair with this spooky lady during one and perhaps last of my edible frog hunt…

During one of those full moon night in Chinese Ghost Month, I suddenly felt an urge to hunt some edible frogs to satisfy my taste buds but I hate to go alone to that part of creepy river bank. So, I dropped by Ah Kow’s place and asked: “Hey, Kow! Do you fancy to hunt for some frogs with me tonight?”

Unexpectedly speaking, the normally supportive Ah Kow threw me a piece of cold blanket and said: “Not to night lah! I am afraid of ghosts!”

Then I turned to Ah Beng, Ah Chong and Mark but their answers were all the same: they were afraid of ‘ghosts’.

I was not a person who can take a ‘NO’ for an answer. So, I figured that maybe it was better for me to do the frog hunting alone as I could get more catch and without the need to share my preys with anyone. I did experience some heated arguments on how to divide up the catches with Ah Kow and the gang.

Now that I was alone, I quietly sneaked to the riverbank overcast by those ara trees. I normally used a self-made spear gun to make the quick kill instead of using my bare hands because in that way, I could quickly pick up a frog from 5~6 feet. What I need to do then was to squat patiently under an ara tree and wait for those juicy frogs to come out from the water to rest on boulders by the river bank.

I waited and waited but no frogs were seen. The breeze was blowing at my cheek and as my patient was being tested to the max. As I was staring at the river impatiently, I suddenly felt something slimy dropped from above brushing my nape. It was hard to describe how the thing feels, the closest thing I could think of was the snake. Once the snake was in my mind, I instinctively looked upwards… And, it was not a snake; and nothing like a rope… It was more or less similar to a very long tongue dropped down from the mouth of a long hair lady hanging on an ara tree branch about 15 feet right above me!

I couldn’t forget the smile of the ‘thing’… It was the most horrible smile I have ever seen in my life! The creature just looked downwards at me with its dead fish eyes with its jaw opened wide, and its long tongue just long enough to wriggle and lick my face as soon as I turned my face to look upwards. Some sort of liquid also dropped onto my face accompanying the licking of the long tongue.

Immediately, I took a few steps back and sat onto the ground. Though my bottom was in great pain, I endured and immediately got up and ran straight back to my home. My mom thought I fell off my bicycle but my tongue was just too tied to saying anything logically. The only audible sound I produced then was the sound of my teeth stroking each other in fear. That was my last edible frog hunt for sure.

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