I’m Not a Princess

So, over the weekend, Eizwan’s father needed some help over in Pahang, the state where time had forgotten (haha) with his project. My father-in-law needed his son to help put in some elbow grease. The presence of DIL was not required, this was man’s work. The sort of work where they communicate in grunts rather than words. The sort of effort that would be well-rewarded with a beer at the end – if we drank. Since we don’t drink, I suppose a coke would do but since I’m recovering from a bout of flu and asthma, I suppose a glass of warm water and a warm rub of Vicks to the chest would do.

It’s really a man thing but I’m no princess and I would be glad to lend a hand. As long as it did not require me to fight through certain smells (might induce an asthma attack), work in the jungle outdoors (mosquitoes very much like me) and go through weeds and tall grass (I don’t want to grub my jeans with mud and weed).

Upon arrival, I find that all the above factors were present at FIL’s project, and so, I’m useless. I had suspected I was going to be useless and conveniently, had brought my laptop to work instead. Although, if you think about it, I could have stayed at home but as you know, all newlyweds want to spend a sickening amount of time together, and so there I was, sitting in the car with the door open, enjoying the light rainy weather and doing a Bohemian writerly thing by writing in a village by the riverside (see previous entry for Bohemian Writer) whilst Eizwan pounded on timber trying to put up some blinds. I thought of giving pointers on how to do it, aside from being a back-seat driver and gamer, I am a well-known back-seat handyman but thought, I was going to be lazy instead.

For the first few hours, I had Brandon Flower’s Only the Young on repeat (I have an uncanny ability of listening to the same song over and over again) as I wrote and half-watched them work. But after a while, I got bored and gave up on writing and decided to take a walk by the farm area – wherever it was not so muddy. Which meant it was pretty much around the car. But a few minutes of leaning by the car into and enjoying the light rain and cool weather, and I was greeted by an indignant meow.

Turns out I am on this lovely marmie’s territory. He was upset with me and he brought his friends for back up, but they were a bit scared and so stayed behind. Finally after a bit of coaxing, we became friends.

As I was petting this kampung cat, six water buffaloes decided to stroll in. I was on the ground petting the cat when this large creature and his group of buddies walked in. I swear, the leader of the herd of buffaloes than gave me a very intimidating look – sort of like a gang member challenging kids on the school ground.

I’d like to imagine myself as someone adventurous, but really, I recognize that I’m not. Oh, for instance, as we traveled down to Temerloh, we stopped by a biker’s hang out. I’m not impressed with men with large bikes, it’s just a cliché that is almost painful. But when it comes to female bikers? There were about four biker chicks in their hijabs and leatherwear showing off their modes of transport – I was so impressed, I practically swooned. I asked Eizwan for a bike, for the record he said no. The rest of the journey had me imagining what it would be like to have a Ducati and traveling up and down the country – although deep down inside, I knew nothing was going to happen.

The same moment happened when I came face-to-face with the water buffaloes. It was one of those moments where I knew I was at the cusp of heroism. Could I take on these huge horned beasts, risk life and limb in case they might attack me? Or should I just pretend to stop them and say, well, I tried. At the very dirty look Buffalo Leader gave me, I practically welcomed them. KL girl, and as far as I know, self-preservation came first. Go ahead, feast on the flower bed over there.

Later on the day, when FIL and husband came out, all sweaty from a hard days work, the not-princess stood by them as they hosed down the muddy ladder and said, ‘So, should the buffaloes be there?’

‘What buffaloes?’

‘Oh you know, them.’

As if on cue, the buffaloes moved to another part of the garden to feast on flowers. My father-in-law was like ‘Whaat?! Nooo!’ and preceeded to chase them away. He shouted at them a very guttaral ‘Woh!’ and the damned buffaloes just fled. In fact, and I swear I’m not crazy, they even had the decency to look guilty as they ran out of the garden.

Remember the cusp of heroism? Well, I should have practiced it, since I actually faced down a group of buffalo pansies. And then to make matters worse, FIL found my behavior so amusing, he repeated it practically to everyone he met. I presume the whole of Kelantan know by now would know how I was bullied by a group of pansy buffaloes. So whilst my father constantly reminds me how I’m not an engineer when I fail to put my Ikea furniture together, my FIL will remind me how I did not grow up by the paddy fields when I see village wildlife. Which thankfully, you don’t see very often in KL.

Anyway. Lunch was fantastic. FIL took us to some stalls by the riverside for the famed ikan patin masak tempoyak (silver catfish with fermented durian – honestly, it tastes superb compared to what it actually sounds like) – a soury sweet fish dish that went very well with a hot plate of rice. For a moment, I thought of actually asking for cutlery, but that would make me beyond a princess to just a plain sissy. Since I’m not a princess and I can find some Malay-ness in me, hidden deep within my angophile and desi soul, I sat down, shut up and ate with my hands. The food was delicious but a little part of me kept comparing it to my grand-aunt who makes the best gulai ikan patin ever. One is never satisfied.

The whole trip, despite me being parked on my butt for most of the time was fun. I wrote, I was out of KL which is always welcomed and as always, going away gave me time to think. I slept on the way back although I tried to stay awake as much as possible, trying to actually contribute to the conversation. Occassionally I fell asleep and had short spate of dreams – something to do with opening a farm in Temerloh. After today, I thought yeah, I could do it. Sure it might be hard but hey, definitely not a princess.

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