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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Anyone Remember "Bercakap Dengan Jin"?

Today’s Halloween. It’s okay if you dunno anything about the occasion, I don’t either. It’s some American tradition like Thanksgiving and Superbowl Sunday. But judging from all the TV programs, its supposed to be a day originating from Samhain where kids dress up like supposedly scary costumes (You want scary? Has anyone dressed up like a barrel of toxic waste? Or a walking monitor with the Windows blue screen of death? Or George W. Bush?)

Anyway, like I said, it’s an American thing. Even as hard as those local toy stores try to hawk the merchandise to us here. But speaking of all things scary, does anyone remember the series of books called “Bercakap Dengan Jin”? It was a series of books quite popular in the 70’s and 80’s with a collection of short stories dealing with mostly Malay folklore ghosts and otherworldly creatures. You name it, they had it – jin, jembalang, syaitan, orang bunian, hantu kum-kum, pocong, orang halus, orang minyak, toyol, pontianak, puaka, the works.

Anyway, each story was usually a ‘true’ account about someone’s encounter with these ghosts, usually pregnant women or pawangs and dukuns. And they usually had these drawings depicting the horror of the victims accompanying the stories.

In my sheer boredom growing up in a Malay school, I actually did try to read a few of them, courtesy of my classmates. The stories, in retrospect, were quite mild and superficial by today’s standards, but you wouldn’t believe how many of my classmates were addicted to this stuff. Especially the girls! Some of these similar stories also appeared in other mainstream magazines and Sunday edition of papers, but “Bercakap Dengan Jin” was, at that time, the standard bearer in schlock horror.

I think the book is still around these days, sold in mamak stores together with the Mawi ringtone handbooks, URTV and Media Hiburan. I doubt I’d last a few paragraphs of it if I tried to today, it has gone the way of stuff like Gila-Gila, Mastika and Dewan Pelajar. Oh well, I suppose I could still give Gila-Gila a read...


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