Across our house on the other side of the road there was a rather dilapidated Malay house and this is where Tok Yek and his family live. I was then about five years old and to me Tok Yek is an old man who in his spare time acts as a sage or medicine man to folks in this small community which includes our family. In Malay he is often referred to as the Dukun or Pawang or Bomoh. But to me he is just a Dukun whom we often call to the house to cure or healed the sick. To make a living he works at the Sanitation Board which we Malay at that time just call it as Stribot. It was later when I went to school that I realized that Stribot is actually Sanitation Board. It is an institution during the colonial era that takes care of the sanitation of the district. When he is not working especially in the afternoon onward he would sit under the Nona tree and do his daily ritual of sharpening his tools of parang, knife and cangkul using a Sharpening Block of rock. The rock has slightly turned on the upside into a semicircular shape for the many years of using it as a Sharpening Block. I would often go and watch him sharpening his tools and never during all the years spoke to him unless spoken to which is rather rare. I just watch and actually fascinated with the way he patiently sharpening his tools. Behind him is the Nona tree which at times has fruits hanging from the branches. Funny though that up till now I still could picture the tree and the fruits as vividly as ever with that Tok Yek bending down doing his work careless of his surrounding. He too never spoke much; it was just me watching him and him working with his tool in silence. In my little mind I began to adore him as a grand sage of sort and wanted to know more about his ritual of healing folks but never got the courage to ask. Anyway he was part of the story of my life. That is the reason I had titled this posting as such. That old man is Tok Yek to me for I do not really know what his real name is. He is Tok Yek to all in the community and he remains so to me. And I like this old man.
In the forties there are not that many doctors around and most are at the Government Hospital which is some three kilometers away from our Kampong. Other than that there were two private practitioners in the Kuantan town and most folks could not afford to go to see the private doctors when they get sick. Either goes to the Government Hospital where one had to wait for hours to get attention or go and see the local Dukun or in the western world is know as the medicine man. Tok Yek is the Dukun that I would call when someone get sick in the house. He would always say that he would come over in a moment and he never failed to be there when needed. His service was of a civic nature and never once did I hear him asking for payment or something like that. He would give advice and then leaves with a prayer that the patience recovered.
Have a nice day folks. [Please click the image to enlarge]