Reminiscing Malam Tujoh Likor
It was the 27th. night of Ramadhan. To most of the generation who spent most of their time playing PlayStation or indulging themselves until the wee hour of morning with facebook, we called that nigh Malam Tujoh Likor. This is the story of many years back, a story of a night, which suddenly became lively when the dark befall and the atmosphere became shrouded with smoldering smoke and thundering sound.
A day or two before the night, you can almost sense its present with a hive of activities. Kampung folks started the preparation by collecting used ‘tin susu’ from the coffee shop (kedai kopi) and for a more creative citizen like my tokki, he cut down a bamboo which is abundance, around the village to make ‘pelita’ and also our cannon. The ‘tin susu’ will be cleaned, fitted with a ‘sumbu’ normally made from old rugs or jute straw. The bamboo will be prepared the same way, either as a single ‘ruas’ (joint) or a series of one long bamboo consisting of up to 10 ‘ruas’ mounted and supported on two sticks, and both were filled with kerosene or cooking oil (minyak kelapa). That was how the pelita were made and they were now ready for the grand finale.
On the day itself, the old surau or masjid was full to the brink of almost kissing the ground. The ‘moreh’ was exceptionally special that night (Malam Lailatul Qadar could fall on the same night – you’ll never know). The kids after the isya’ prayer and probably a few rakaat of terawikh – killed their time playing ‘police sentry’ or ‘hide and seek’ close by before the main event – firecrackers, carbide cannon and touring other neighboring villages in a big group.
After the terawikh, we hurriedly back to set up our battle arsenals, which were ‘meriam buluh’ or ‘meriam tanah’. The girls and the unadventurous lads were just settled down with firecrackers and making sure the pelita won’t die off during the night.
We, the more daring and ‘lasak’ guys straight away went to our specially chosen spot for our long awaited and anticipated activity. Meriam buluh was made from a special thick-walled bamboo (buluh duri) and not the normal bamboo used to cook lemang. The bamboo will be bored (normally my tokki did this few days earlier) and filled with carbide which later mixed with water. To strengthen the bamboo my tokki wrapped it with steel wire. The ‘meriam tanah’ on the other hand was actually another version of cannon, made from a square mold (normally from used cooking oil tin) in an elevated ground, under a house (imagine kampung houses with lots of wooden tiang) which strategically face a paddy field.
My kampung buddies and siblings – brothers-in-arm in the battle, placed the cannon in a row, facing the other villages. It can be a tough competition, because our rivals were aiming the cannon toward our village as well and ready for a good melee. My tokki watched his grandchildren enjoying their time in a safe distant. We were ready to rock. You can hear the distinct hissing sound from the chemical reaction which tell you that it was just about time to light it. Fire in the hole….Kaboooommmm! Kabooommmm! The night then filled with continuous hair-raising sounds. We didn’t stop until we had run out of our carbide supply. Which was normally past the midnight. As if everybody came to an understanding, (sort of mutual MoU I guess) the sound died off suddenly and the night became eerily quite and serene again.
With ourselves strongly smelled with carbide, we then rode our bicycle to our neighboring villages scouting for their battle secret and at the same time feasting our eyes with their creative light decorations, which by now glowing and flickering brightly and beautifully. Occasionally we stooped to greet them and they treated us with some sweets. The night end when we have no more energy to cycle or our tummy has started to grumble, longing for our take away food, normally tucked safely in our sarung which was taken from the moreh earlier that night.
That was my Malam Tujoh Likor…