A Kadazan Wedding

Fervently written on June 13, 2006

A crude depiction of a Kadazan community gatherings. A street market in the 80’s.

Kadazan refers to an ethnic race in North Borneo.

A Kadazan Wedding Party – all you can eat and drink, and when I say drink, I mean drink – literally. Free beers, wine and toddy, all the way, all day, unless it’s the village cheapskate’s day. Several days ago, I was at one of those wedding bash in the kampong. The brother of my former classmate got married to a fine looking Kadazan girl. Dad is a family friend so he was invited. We’ve been car-less since dad’s pickup went kaput so he invited my uncle to go, because he has a car, and I, who’d been contemplating about my big bum lately, decided to tag along. Two men, on medication (one for high blood, the other for thyroid), about to dive into a gathering of drinking frenzy; no one can stop the tide. I’m just there for the ride, it’s either that, or stuck in a rut behind bedroom walls. Paarrrr – Tay!

One by one trees passed by and I was staring enthusiastically at the change of scenery through the car window. Bumping along the gravel road, we finally arrived at our destination. As is the nature of a kampong wedding party, I could see the line of parked cars a mile a way (an overstatement – but you get the idea).

Stepping off the car, beep! Beep! Bloke radar tracked a fine looking boy just leaving with the family. ‘Damn, couldn’t you stay a little longer?’

Loud band music blared in my ears as I trod the ground towards the obviously non-subdued crowd. Flashes of smiling teeth painted the scene and I could see myriads of mouth gaping, liberating suppressed get-to-together laughter, filling the party with the mirthful sounds so natural to Sabahan culture. Ah, bless our hillbillies. You can’t find a scene like this in boring West Malaysia, with the beers and upbeat drunkards and – oh wait, you can. Those God forsaken pubs with the GROs, Chinese Ah Beng, and high-on-pill turds swinging their fancy hips to techno music with – err… I digress.

With all the people around, I was a bit self-conscious. Who wouldn’t when your height is taller than the average Kadazan girl (I wish my butt was average too).

With my uncle by my side *dad had vanished* I went to grab those inviting food, shutting all eyes that were staring at me, and concentrating on the thing that would bless me with an even bigger bum.

With a plate in my hand, I searched for the next thing in mind, a place to rest my fat behind where I could consume the food in gluttony. There were hardly vacant seats, but I found one, next to a cordial looking woman.

When I asked her if the seat was taken, she said with a somewhat nervous smile, “Tidak. Tapi ada itu gula getah, itu budak-budak kasi lekat. (No. But there’s a bubble gum. Some kids had stuck it there,)”

I said, “Tidakpalah, boleh duduk juga (Never mind. I can still sit here anyway)”. Perhaps she sensed me as some fancy city girl, what with my intimidating height – no lady, I’m just another a gatecrasher, there for the food and for the scene.

Tame Kadazan/Dusun Wedding guests. Photo by Doug Furtek

So it was there that I sat and hardly leaving, except to annoy the father. The seat had me staring straight at the band playing for the party, especially the guitarist *Man… it would have been waaaaaay awesome if he were cuter*. I started a conversation with the young woman next to me, and I found out that she is from Ranau married to a local. A dear woman she is, sweet as any Kadazan kampong woman could be, unlike me, whose mind – polluted by the mentality of modern thinking (BLOKE ALERT… Kaka! Kaka lookalike!) – always displeased, never content. The lady also turned out to be the neighbour to my old secondary school classmate, who happened to be sitting next to me later on

and you know what happens when two old schoolmates meet — gossip!

A friend married this friend – what a shock! Another married this friend – another shock! And she is now dating another former classmate – shock! (Actually, my bum hurt during the talk. I was only faking the surprise). I used to fancy the boy she now dates because I thought he looked like Alec Su, an actor from Taiwan. Ah… the good old school days, so young and so dumb. It’s funny how things turn out. Well, they seem fit for each other, the talkative chubby girlfriend, and the quiet skinny Alec Su look-alike, what a match. I’m serious! And I am not teasing (to all my former schoolmates who are reading this). They beat the single me.

Anyway, the hosts of the party, family and friends of the groom, kept making rounds to all the guests offering drinks that they carry to every guest using the same cup (eugh..). Every time I was offered a cup from their bottle, I declined, because I am not a drinker. Not much of a Kadazan spirit I know, but seriously, I don’t drink. I was afraid I might get addicted. What do you expect from someone who gets addicted to Spider Solitaire and Minesweeper? Offer after offer I declined, even when the bride and groom themselves offered a cup of Vella to me, or whatever the wine was called. My friend and her neighbour were a good sport, always taking down a swig at every offer. Hebat betul (Amazing). Eventually, with all the drinks, the mother (lady neighbour) transformed from a sober contained woman, to a bubbly character who giggled a lot – tipsy…

I thought I could maintain the sanctity of my mouth from all those intoxicating tipple (tuak or toddy, Mentoku, champagne, beer), and resist the offers by them blasted overzealous drink givers, but alas, it was an attempt bound to fail. Who dare mess with this cool looking girl sitting in a corner? Tall, dark and fine looking, notorious for his rough attitude in school, the brother of the groom, my old schoolmate, approached me with a cup of tapai. I refused kindly. I know it wasn’t kakkoi (Japanese – cool). Well I persisted with my principle on other offers so why would his make a difference. He tried to offer me a second time with another drink yet still I refused. I should have known when that wretched old schoolmate of mine, came to me the third time.

– Name reveal –

Eric came by to the guests in my area, with a bottle of Sprite, and his friend was carrying the same bottle. Appearing innocent, almost respectful, he came to me saying, “Nah, minum. Sprite ni”. Almost refusing at the sight of the glass, I gave him my best friendly smile and asked, “Betulka? (Really?)”

Even Caroline, believing, said, “Ya, Sprite tu”. She assured me. Of course, they’d been offering Sprite to Muslims guests. So, out of respect and for having declined so many drinks, I took a sip.

Then… eyes bulged as the stinging taste of Mentoku touched my mouth, PUI! Out came the drink from my lips. Caroline drank the rest of the cup and told Eric it was Mentoku. Eric stared innocently at his buddy and said, “Eh, kita tetukar botol pula tadi. Kau teambil saya punya saya ambil kau punya (Oops we switched bottles. You got mine and I got yours)”. The other friend held the real Sprite drink. Like a couple of innocent screwheads, they switched bottle.

Well – well.

Hantu punya budak (Jerks)”, I thought, amused that I fell for it. I know Eric enough in school to doubt this as an honest mistake – nice try buddy! I just gave him my best un-offended smile, and I think I might have scared him. Ho! Ho! My serious reputation in school probably made him think twice about the ruse, but I doubt it. It was a joke. Perhaps it really was a mistake…

Eh, who am I kidding, this is Eric I’m talking about! He then offered me the right drink, and I gulped the whole thing. He probably left laughing with his friend, or, he might be seriously scared over my reaction. Blah, like he’s going to care. Four years later and still the same. Budak-budak betul (what childish lot). (_ _)##

Back to the party, as usual, there were crazy carefree dancing, and I noticed all kinds of wacko characters later in the party, unleashed of course, by the power of heavy drinking, thanks to the limitless supplies provided by the hosts. There was this kid who loved to drag dancing partners to the dance floor and he only danced with married woman, never girls. What a sport.

There was also this old lady, who wore baju kebaya and was eager to show how young she was in spirit. With a cigarette in hand, she acted as though popularity was her name. She’d go for my neighbour friend next to me (probably because the old lady had no companion and the lady seemed like someone who’d listen), and forced her into a conversation that spanned none other than bad talking the people around her – Aiyo nenek (Oh grandma), nobody wants to hear that! I just smiled in amusement. My company merely gave a good-natured yes reply to the withered character’s derision.

It was raining slightly when I finally had to bid my friend Caroline, and her neighbour farewell. It was a good day indeed, having seen so many comical characters at the party. I think going to that Kadazan wedding celebration beats the Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) held at Papar’s Town Hall. But of course, I didn’t go to that one.

Leaving the place, my dad practically had to steer my drunken Uncle to his car. I couldn’t wait to go home and shower after all the excitement of watching people. But as habit would have it, my dad had to stop in town to buy of all things, 4D tickets…. Aiya……

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