Notion Press Malaysia Short Story Contest 2017

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The Kite Maker
Published on 09-06-2017 10:23 PM

The Kite Maker sat on his stool, hunched over his latest creation. He trimmed and flexed the bamboo with ease from years of experience. He had been making the moon kite since he was a boy of 7. Now he was close to 70. His eye sight was not as good as it used to be but that did not deter him. He could cut out intricate patterns and designs using an assortment...Learn MoreThe Kite Maker sat on his stool, hunched over his latest creation. He trimmed and flexed the bamboo with ease from years of experience. He had been making the moon kite since he was a boy of 7. Now he was close to 70. His eye sight was not as good as it used to be but that did not deter him. He could cut out intricate patterns and designs using an assortment of coloured paper even with his eyes closed.  He was wheelchair bound now but his fingers were as deft as ever. He carved the designs with the dexterity and skill that would put men much younger than him to shame. He first learned the trade from his father, a master kite maker in his kampong. Kites had always fascinated him. He loved to watch them soar high in the air like a bird among the fluffy white clouds and bright blue sky. His father taught him all about kites. Besides the moon kite, he also learned about the Peacock Kite, the Cat Kite, the Leaf Kite and the curvy Woman Kite, said to be in the shape of a woman.  He learned that the leaf kite was painted on, not pasted on and it was also light in weight making it fly well during dawn when the wind was at its lightest. Hence the leaf kite was sometimes also known as the Early Morning Kite. Some kites had hummers meant to frighten evil spirits away with the humming sound. Some Moon Kites had blank spaces on each side like eyes, to help ‘guide’ a kite in flight. His first real encounter with a kite was on his fifth birthday. His father had fashioned out a little blue, red and yellow crescent shaped moon kite for him as a gift. It was a tiny kite, a perfect replica of the big moon kites he had seen hanging all over his father’s workshop. He would never forget that day. He rode on his father’s strong brown shoulders to the seaside on that windy morning. His father helped him launch his very first kite into flight by holding the kite by the bridle and letting the line out.  In a swirl, the wind swept the kite right up. He remembered his excitement as he pulled and let go watching the kite go higher and higher and feeling the strength of the kite in the air as he tugged hard on the string. Since then, he often skipped classes on many flights of fancy imagining he was a big moon kite flying smoothly and freely among the many brightly coloured kites that dot the sky. Sometimes his classmates would join him but he preferred to fly his kites alone. The boys in the village were competitive and they liked to compete to see whose kite would launch fastest, fly highest or stay up the longest. Some of them used thread coated with glass pieces to cut each other’s kite lines in kite flying competitions.  He always felt sad when he saw a kite tumbling to rest out of reach on a tall coconut tree or flying forlornly out of sight when its line had been cut. He felt a thorn in his heart to watch many kites lost in this manner. Many of his friends left for the city as soon as they hit their late teens but not the kite maker. He was contented to sit and learn the trade from his father, carving, cutting and creating the most wonderful kites. It took him a week or two to make a moon kite, longer for a more complicated design. Soon he became known all over his kampong and beyond. Everyone who came to his kampong would head over to his humble workshop cum studio to choose a kite for their loved ones. Some came from faraway lands. He imagined his kite flying over the skies in places he had never and would never see in his lifetime. The villagers and his extended family had planned a birthday party for him on his 70th birthday. It was a big event. There were lots of food, plays, dancing, activities and kite flying of course.  They had even organized a best kite design contest for the younger lads. There was much activity and everyone was rushing around in excitement. His daughters had prepared an array of savoury dishes and sweet desserts for the guests. The younger ones were playing marbles, top spinning, kicking the rattan ball and many other fun games enjoyed by youngsters. The older ones were putting finishing touches to their kites. A dash of paint here, a final cut or carve there. The ladies were chatting in the patio while they watched over the babies. There was much merriment. Rows of candle lights on bamboo stakes lit the pathways adding to the joyful atmosphere. Soon the drums herald the start of the kite competition and everyone ran out to watch. One by one the kites took off to the skies carried by the evening wind. It was a sight to behold. There was a bright blue one with pink flowers and pink heart shaped designs, a black one with intricate floral patterns all around the border,  a bright orange one with frills around the sides like those held by cheer leaders during school sports competitions, a yellow and purple one with hand drawn batik flowers all over. Suddenly there was a strong gust of wind and the clouds parted to reveal a crimson and gold kite in the shape of an eagle. It was indeed a sight to behold in the glorious riot of soft salmon and rosy pink evening sky. Up and up flew the Eagle Kite rising majestically above the soft cottony clouds. There seemed to be no string holding the kite. It just flew higher and higher as everyone watched till it became just a speck and finally disappearing from view. His daughters had run to the Kite Maker to wheel him out to view the amazing Kite but he was nowhere to be found. The wheelchair was there at its usual spot next to the worktable with the carving knife and colourful papers strewn all around it but the old man was not there. Suddenly everyone understood. The Kite Maker who so loved flying freely in the skies was finally home. Though they missed him dearly, they did not mourn. They only felt peace and calm knowing he was now where he had always wanted to be. Up in the beautiful skies flying freely with his beloved kites.  ... Read more

By Koay Joo Bee in
Reader Points: 190
Editor Points: 0
Rank: 117
Views: 766
Lagenda Perwira Keris
Published on 08-25-2017 10:25 AM

“Patik junjung perintah tuanku.”

Hang Tuah, Sang Setia, Tun Mamat tunduk menghadap Sultan Mahmud Shah, dengan dua tangan rapat bersila depan dahi m...Learn More“Patik junjung perintah tuanku.” Hang Tuah, Sang Setia, Tun Mamat tunduk menghadap Sultan Mahmud Shah, dengan dua tangan rapat bersila depan dahi mereka. Sultan Mahmud kelihatan seperti di pertengahan usia bersila di atas permaidani emas, di atas lantai yang lebih tinggi daripada lantai di depan yang menyokong pengawai-pengawai istana. Mereka pun berdiri, perlahan-lahan mengundur diri daripada pandangan sultan dan pusing apabila sampai di pintu istana. Tuah berkata, “Sekarang, kita sediakan segala hantaran meminang. Kita bertolak esok setelah solat subuh.” Sang Setia dan Tun Mamat segera menjawab, “Ya, tuan hamba.” Sesudah Setia dan Mamat meninggalkan Tuah, dia pun menajamkan matanya yang menampakkan kebijaksanaan, seolah-olah sedang berfikir dalam. Sudah lama permaisuri Sultan mangkat. Sungguhpun demikian, baginda masih hiba tidak dapat lupakan permaisurinya dan merasa sunyi meskipun baginda mempunyai puteri Tun Teja serta Puteri Onang Kening. Kesunyian baginda seakan istana baginda didiami sultan seorang sahaja. Baginda sultan hanyalah manusia biasa, dah tentu merasa sunyi. Demi kebahagiaan baginda, perintah tersebut haruslah dilaksanakan apa jua cabaran sekalipun. *** Sesudah mengerjakan solat, rombongan meminang Puteri Gunung Ledang pun berangkat dari kota Melaka menuju selatan, ke arah Gunung Ledang. Perjalanan yang memakan masa beberapa hari melalui hutan, akhirnya sampai di kaki Gunung Ledang. Mereka tahu mereka sudah berada di kaki gunung kerana perubahan cuaca yang dirasakan semakin sejuk dan dingin. Mendaki gunung bukanlah mudah kepada pemuda yang kuat yang telah berjalan jauh dengan sedikit rehat, lebih-lebih lagi kepada Hang Tuah. Sungguhpun Hang Tuah terkenal dengan kegagahan menumpaskan pahlawan Majapahit dan Jebat, tetapi hal demikian sudah lama berlalu. Tuah sekarang adalah seorang pahlawan yang telah dimakan usia seperti diambang senja. Tuah kelihatan seperti orang tua yang biasa mendaki gunung yang gagah. Tun Mamat sedar Hang Tuah telah lelah melalui nafasnya yang tercungap-cungap dan gerakan badan seperti orang yang telah pecut seribu batu. Dia pun mengusulkan biarlah dia sahaja dan pengiring yang lain meneruskan perjalanan, sementara Sang Setia menemani Tuah di pertengahan jalan. Hang Tuah tergaman seketika mendengar usul Tun Mamat. Tuahkan laksamana gagah, yang hanya mendengar perintah baginda sultan dan tidak pernah gagal sempurnakan misi. Tapi hari, Tuah melihat dirinya yang tua dan lemah dan ini menyedarkan Tuah dia hanya manusia biasa yang  fitrahnya terhad. Terpaksalah Tuah menerima usul Tun Mamat. Berehat di sana, dia melihat Tun Mamat dan pengiring-pengiring pun meneruskan perjalanan, perlahan-lahan lesap daripada pandangan. Tun Mamat pun tahu mereka sampai ke kawasan Puteri Gunung Ledang dengan melihat rimbunan bunga-bunga yang mana sebelumnya hanyalah pohon-pohon dan akar-akar menjala. Rimbunan bunga menarik rama-rama berterbangan, Perubahan ini membuatkan kumpulan Tun Mamat taksub dan aneh, ia bagaikan kayangan di muka bumi, haruman bunga membuatkan mereka lupa akan kepenatan. Dengan pemandangan sebuah mahligai yang yang lebih mewah daripada istana Sultan Melaka, Tun Mamat tahu mereka telah sampai di perkarangan mahligai puteri kayangan. Suasana perkarangan sunyi, hanya kelihatan burung-burung berkicauan dan rama-rama berterbangan. Sekumpulan Tun Mamat pegun melihat sekumpulan bidadari yang cantiknya jauh daripada gadis jelita daripada dunia manusia, bermain sesama sendiri dan bergelak ketawa. Dan Puteri Gunung Ledang dah tentunya jauh lebih cantik daripada semua bidadari-bidadari yang bermain di taman. Dengan tibanya, bidadari-bidadari tersebut berhenti main dan ketawa seolah mengesan sesuatu yang pelik. Mereka berpaling ke arah kumpulan Tun Mamat dengan muka yang kelihatan seperti malu dengan kehadiran golongan manusia. Lantas, Tun Mamat pun bersuara dengan lantang. “Hamba Tun Mamat, datang daripada Kota Melaka, mewakili baginda Sultan Mahmud untuk meminang Puteri Gunung Ledang. Kami telah membawa bersama hantaran-hantaran meminang.” Persekitaran tetiba menjadi senyap, hanya kedengaran kicauan burung-burung dan denyitan serangga. Kemudian, keluar seorang perempuan tua daripada mahligai, badannya bongkok dan tangannya memegang tongkat panjang semasa berjalan menghampiri kumpulan Tun Mamat. Perempuan tua itu berhenti di depan kumpulan tersebut lalu bersuara, “Tuan hamba.” Tun Mamat segera menjawab, “Ya, tuan hamba.” “Hamba adalah ketua dayang yang menjaga Puteri Raden Mas Nyawa. Puteri faham niat hati Sultan Mahmud. Dengan itu, puteri pun mengemukakan beberapa syarat untuk menguji keikhlasan baginda. Ini adalah syarat-syarat dari puteri.” Rombongan Tun Mamat tidak hairan. Memang dasarnya pihak wanita tidak akan terus bersetuju bukan kerana malu, tetapi memerlukan masa untuk memahami pihak keluarga lelaki. Tetapi, puteri yang sultan ingin meminang, bukanlah daripada golongan manusia biasa – daripada kayangan. Mungkin sebab itu puteri kayangan berani mengemukakan syarat. Perempuan tua itu pun bersambung, “Sebuah jambatan emas yang dibina dari istana Melaka hingga ke puncak Gunung Ledang, sebuah jambatan perak yang dibina dari puncak Gunung Ledang hingga ke istana Melaka, tujuh dulang hati nyamuk, tujuh dulang hati kuman, tujuh tempayan air mata anak dara, tujuh tempayan air pinang muda...” Terbeliak mata Tun Mamat. Semua syarat semua mustahil untuk dipenuhi. Kalau boleh pun, ia mengambil masa bertahun-tahun untuk disempurnakan.  “dan semangkuk darah Raja Muda." Darah Raja Muda? Semua yang terdengar matanya terbeliak dan mulut ternganga, semua memandang satu sama lain dan bertanya adakah betul mereka terdengar darah Raja Muda. Sesudah selesai, nenek tua itu pun mengundur diri, meninggalkan kumpulan Tun Mamat untuk berehat dalam mahligai kayangan. Sepatutnya Tun Mamat berehat untuk mengumpulkan semula tenaga untuk menuruni gunung subuh esok, dia tidak dapat mengelapkan matanya. Pelbagai perkara bermain difikirannya, tentang taman bunga di puncak gunung, tentang istana kayangan, tentang Puteri Gunung Ledang dan tentang syarat-syarat aneh tersebut. Sesudah subuh, Tun Mamat bersama pengiring-pengiring dan barang hantaran yang sepatutnya dihadiahkan kepada Puteri Gunung Ledang, berangkat menuruni gunung untuk bertemu kembali Hang Tuah dan Sang Setia di tempat mereka berpisah semalam. Apabila Tun Mamat bertemu Hang Tuah, dia pun segera menyatakan syarat-syarat puteri tersebut. Hang Tuah pun diam menunduk apabila memikiran maksud tersirat Puteri Gunung Ledang. Jambatan emas, jambatan perak, hati nyamuk, hati kuman, air mata anak dara, air pinang muda dan darah Raja Muda. Jambatan emas dan perak kalau disempurnakan, harta Melaka dan rakyat akan dihisap sampai kering. Hati nyamuk dan kuman memang sukar untuk diperoleh. Air mata anak dara – hanya penderitaan anak dara baru akan ada air mata. Darah Raja Muda. Raja Muda masih kecil. Dan kalau benar, Raja Muda akan dikorbankan. Adakah benar Puteri Gunung Ledang ingin menguji keikhlasan Sultan Mahmud? Tidak, puteri dari kayangan adalah mulia dan tidak akan menguji keikhlasan. Ia adalah bermaksud menolak. Mimik muka Tuah nampak seperti telah faham maksud tersirat puteri. Sultan Mahmud Shah bukan seperti yang semua hamba semua maklum. Sultan Mahmud Shah bukan sunyi sebenarnya tetapi berhawa nafsu. Baginda pasti akan penuhi semua permintaan Puteri Gunung Ledang termasuklah mengorbankan Raja Muda. Menikahi puteri kayangan yang kecantikannya tiada bandingan dapat memuaskan hawa nafsu. Baginda Sultan Mahmud Shah lebih seperti datuknya, Almarhum Sultan Mansur Shah, bukanlah sultan yang bijaksana tetapi pengecut, mendengar hasutan munafik, tidak ada pertimbangan yang wajar, menyebabkan Tuah hampir dihukum bunuh, menyebabkan Jebat terpaksa mengorbankan diri. Ayahanda Sultan Mahmud, Almarhum Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah lebih bijaksana, meneladani Khalifah Umar al-Khattab, menghapuskan pencuri dan lanun yang mengancam keamanan Melaka. Dan tuanku Sultan Mahmud Shah, yang hawa nafsunya kuat. Mana ada manusia yang berani menikahi dewi daripada kayangan? Masakan manusia yang rasa darjatnya sama taraf dengan dewa dewi. Jikalau demikian, Sultan Mahmud bakal jadi raja zalim dan sudah tibanya Zaman Kemerosotan Melaka! Mimik muka Tuah terus berubah, seolah-olah hari kiamat akan berlaku pada esok hari. Tun Mamat sedar akan perubahan mimik muka Tuah, lalu berkata, “Tuan hamba, apa dia?” “Kata-kata Tun Perak adalah benar. Berkhidmat untuk raja adalah tidak sama dengan berkhidmat untuk negara. Berkhidmat untuk raja adalah bahaya kerana raja juga adalah manusia biasa dan kita tidak tahu bila raja akan berubah. Berkhidmat untuk negara adalah menjaga keamanan dan kehidupan rakyat. Demi rakyat, raja zalim haruslah disanggah walaupun ini bermaksud jatuhnya sebuah pemerintahan. Bak kata Jebat, raja adil, raja disembah, raja zalim, raja disanggah!” Sang Setia, Tun Mamat dan semua yang hadir gempar dengan kata-kata Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah pun segera berkata, “Wahai tuan hamba sekalian, jangan bimbang. Hamba tidak akan memberontak.” Kelihatan mimik muka Tuah yang bengang, “Apakah yang harus patik buat?” Beliau pun bergerak menghampiri anak sungai Gunung Ledang, lalu berkata kepada Keris Taming Sari, “Jikalau hamba harus pulang menghadap baginda, maka timbullah tuan hamba. Jikalau hamba tak harus pulang, maka tenggelamlah tuan hamba.” Tuah pun perlahan-lahan meletakkan kerisnya ke atas permukaan air dan melepaskan tangan. Keris yang berlengkuk tujuh, seakan-akan tenggelam, seakan-seakan timbul, hanyut dengan aliran arus sungai. Mata Tuah memerhati kerisnya seolah-olah berharap akan terjadi satu keajaiban. Kemudian, kerisnya pun tenggelam ke dasar sungai. Tuah memejam matanya, seperti telah faham. Beliau pun palingkan muka pada Tun Mamat dan Sang Setia. “Tuan hamba, hamba tidak akan terus berkhidmat untuk baginda sultan. Kita berpisahlah di sini. Tuan hamba, tolong nasihatikan baginda sultan agar membatalkan hasrat meminang Puteri Gunung Ledang. Jika tidak, rakyat akan sengsara dan zaman Melaka tamat akan tiba.” Tun Mamat dan Sang Setia segera menjawab, “Ya, tuan hamba. Demi kesejahteraan Melaka dan rakyat, hamba sanggup nasihati baginda walaupun hamba akan dihukum mati.” Tuah bersuara, tangannya menunjuk ke arah sungai yang mananya keris tenggelam. “Buat masa ini, Taming Sari tidak diperlukan. Akan tiba masa bila keris itu diperlukan dan akan muncul perwira yang layak menjunjungnya.” Dengan kata terakhir, Hang Tuah pun meninggalkan rombongan meminang puteri kayangan. *** Di dalam sebuah restoran mamak, dengan latar belakang yang melihatkan bandar raya Kuala Lumpur, kelihatan seorang lelaki tua menikmati nasi lemak dan kopi Ipoh sambil membaca suratkhabar Inggeris. Dia tersenyum sinis lalu berkata, “Hai, mereka semua masih sama.”... Read more

By Kenneth Tan in
Reader Points: 0
Editor Points: 0
Rank: 402
Views: 27