Wednesday, 10 April 2013

To The Doctor Or To The Bomoh?

For almost 2 days, Affandi couldn't decide on how to help his mother. The nature of the problem was grave, at least it seemed to me. His mother had recently re-married and 2 days ago had fallen in the toilet at her rental unit which she now shares with her new but former husband. Her place is not far from our home, maybe 5 minutes drive or so. Why couldn't Affandi decide and just take his mother to hospital? I found out that the big problem was his parents and siblings believe in bomoh, more than they have faith in western trained doctors at hospitals. Why? I will explain the reasons why ...

The Malay community is looked after well by its many bomoh. Bomoh is the first that comes to mind, not doctors. Never doctors! Not under any circumstance will the Malays think of doctors first! In Affandi's mother's case, the bomoh was found after contacting 2 people, his elder sister and a male cousin. The elder sister does not take any hospital medications and has no trust in such western medicines. The male cousin suffered from some chronic sprain and often goes to this particular bomoh.

Who is this bomoh? The word bomoh is arguably very sensitive and almost controversial. It is never mentioned when I am around! The word bomoh is hushed and silenced when I am around. So I am actually oblivious to anything that has to deal with bomoh. But this time, I have had enough of the bomoh tricks and I asked Affandi to seriously tell me why he took his mother to see a bomoh.

It was hard on him to explain to me. But Affandi narrated his account with much reluctance and holding back a lot of what he didn't want me to know about bomoh. According to Affandi, this male bomoh is not a bomoh! I was stunned! Try to understand that! If he is not a bomoh, then what is he? I had to probe Affandi and asked him the nature of this supposedly 'bomoh' man he took his mother to.

From Affandi's account, I see that this 'not bomoh man' is actually just a Quran reader. He reads Quran, that's all. I was happy with that. But he is such a good Quran reader than he has been bestowed special healing powers, that of healing bones. I was so intriuged by this new story and find. So I begged Affandi to tell me a bit more of this Quran reader's practice. It seems he only needs to press on the supposedly broken bone or painful spot and read a special verse and the pain disappears like magic! There is little residual pain and the patient walks away fine. I was even more thrilled so I went on to ask, "What verse did he read from the Quran?" Affandi said he read a verse about the bones that were gathered and thrown far beyond the hills and the birds came back flying! At that instant I remembered reading a verse in the Quran but I couldn't recall which particular verse. So, I still need to find that verse and write it here for you later, insyaAllah. That's all about the art of healing bone pain using a verse from the Quran. So he wasn't actually a bomoh, just a Quran reader and healer.

Affandi went on to mention that this healer also sells honey, of the good kind. Good genuine honey costs RM240 a bottle but Affandi managed to get 2 bottles for RM40 each. They look just like the other honey bottles we have at home.

I have seen and been to see a female bomoh once after a lot of coaxing. I don't know why, but Affandi trusts traditional healers more than I do. I have my reservation.

Here is the verse from the Quran on  page 44, second surah: Surah Baqarah, Ayat 260:

Dan (ingatlah) ketika Ibrahim berkata, "Ya Tuhanku, perlihatkanlah kepadaku bagaimana Engkau menghidupkan orang mati." Allah berfirman, "Belum percayakah engkau?" Dia (Ibrahim) menjawab, "Aku percaya tetapi agar hatiku tenang (mantap)." Dia (Allah) berfirman, "Kalau begitu ambillah empat ekor burung, lalu cincanglah olehmu kemudian letakkan  di atas masing-masing bukit satu bahagian, kemudian panggillah mereka, nescaya mereka datang kepadamu dengan segera." Ketahuilah bahawa Allah Maha Perkasa, Maha Bijaksana.


YUSUF ALI: When Abraham said: "Show me, Lord, how You will raise the dead, " He replied: "Have you no faith?" He said "Yes, but just to reassure my heart." Allah said, "Take four birds, draw them to you, and cut their bodies to pieces. Scatter them over the mountain-tops, then call them back. They will come swiftly to you. Know that Allah is Mighty, Wise."

PICKTHAL: And when Abraham said (unto his Lord): My Lord! Show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said: Dost thou not believe? Abraham said: Yea, but (I ask) in order that my heart may be at ease. (His Lord) said: Take four of the birds and cause them to incline unto thee, then place a part of them on each hill, then call them, they will come to thee in haste, and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.

SHAKIR: And when Ibrahim said: My Lord! show me how Thou givest life to the dead, He said: What! and do you not believe? He said: Yes, but that my heart may be at ease. He said: Then take four of the birds, then train them to follow you, then place on every mountain a part of them, then call them, they will come to you flying; and know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.

If It Is War ... What Will Our Food Be ...?

During the Japanese war in Malaya, Malayan families had little food to live on. Fresh food items had to come from nearby villages. Many war survivors tell me stories which I still find hard to believe, even today. I will share some of the stories with you ...

Chicken and eggs
In Penang, Dr Kamil Ariff's family obtained fresh livestock and vegetables came from farms in Balik Pulau.

On the mainland, the late Tan Sri Dr Abdul Majid bin Ismail (Coco Majid) narrated his war stories about where he got fresh chickens. He had to take the train from Kuala Lumpur and go up north to Alor Star, to get chickens for selling at Pasar Chow Kit. But the trip was too taxing, both on him and the chickens he tried to bring back. Most of his chickens died in the hot train and on the long trip (without food and water for the chickens). He survived but many of his chickens died, leaving him very little to earn cash. He then made money from selling dried salted fish (ikan sepat masin) and kerosene (minyak gas), which sold very well during the war.

My mother narrated the war story in Malacca, about my grandmother and her last son, her 14th child - Pak Salleh. My grandmother had her last child and last a son, Pak Salleh, in 1944. There was no milk during the war and my grandmother didn't have breastmilk for her new baby. Pak Salleh was brought up on tea! Imagine giving tea to a baby! Pak Salleh grew up to become a strong man indeed and worked very hard as an audit at the Malayan Railway in Kuala Lumpur; I was still a college student when Pak Salleh was working. Somehow, I noticed he aged too fast, faster than my father who was the 7th child. I kept on observing Pak Salleh as I grew up. Every time I saw him he had more white hair and a more stressful face. I also went up to ask him if he was ok. Of course, the jovial Pak Salleh always smilingly replied, "Alhamdulillah, I'm fine, I'm fine! ..." Somehow, there seems to be this worry tone in his voice even though he was seemingly happy. I worry. I often wondered whether tea would actually ruin a baby's life and result in an old man's face. I judged them to be linked - babies given tea will result in a stressful life as an adult, giving a stressful and older face, like my Pak Salleh. But sometimes I ask myself, "Is it just the tea given to babies that cause men to get old face fast?" I don't know and it is hard to tell or define or do a good study. I can only record the effect of that war even though I was born after the war and never experienced living during a war. I don't want to have to live through any war. Pak Salleh's face is enough to instill fear in me.