Sunday, September 14, 2014

There is no patron saint of literary spree

To commemorate Roald Dahl's Day, Bet fancied herself as Matilda
Photo taken from AMightyGirl
It wasn’t til February
When we got our placements in schools
In the period in-between
We unpacked the boxes of story books
Prizes we won from doing well in final exams
Or tomes tossed aside by wealthier cousins  
They were all eager to leave the confines of their prison
And share their content
Adventures to faraway lands and ancient kingdoms
A handy escape from our humdrum existence

I flipped the pages of the glossy, hard-cover, full-colour book
That I had won for being third in class at Teluk Kurau West
A Sword in the Stone recounted the trials and tribulations
Of young Arthur who was destined to be the King of old England
With the help of Merlin the Magician
He freed Excalibur from a hideous stone
And led the Knights of the Round Table

From Camelot to Sherwood Forest
I snooped into the exploits of Robin Hood
And his band of Merry Men
Who robbed the Sheriff of Nottingham
And hurled his gold to the peasants

Farewell to Medieval England
Off to a life as a cast away on a tropical island
Marking the long, lonely days
With my chums Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday

Another shipwreck, another tropical isle
To marvel at how the Swiss Family Robinson built their tree house
In their frocks and breeches
And used their rifles and explosives to fight the natives

From the West Indies to Wonderland
Sitting by the riverbank
With Alice and the Principles of Logical Calculus
Walking away from that "horrible place"
Trailing a talking white rabbit
Wearing a waistcoat and a pocket watch
Falling deep into his rabbit hole
To open a tiny door leading to a race
Where a small snail beat the other animals
Odd characters like the Duchess and her Cheshire Cat
The March Hare at the Mad Hatter’s tea party
The Queen of Hearts and her game of croquet
And the Knave of Hearts accused of stealing the tarts

I had to escape the wrath of the Red Queen
To follow Philaes Fogg on his bet with his friends
In Around the World in Eighty Days
Along with Passepartout, his French valet
And Aoda whom he saved from the funeral pyre

Back to Victorian London
I tried to outwit Dr Watson
In the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes          
And solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper
Who disappeared in the foggy winter
Along with the split personality
Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

On to the Arabian Gulf
I boarded the dhow with Sinbad
To the banks of the Euphrates
And witness the splendour of old Baghdad

Onto the magic carpet with Aladdin
Transported to a secret cave with treasure chests
Overflowing with rubies, sapphires and emeralds

And held my breath as Sheherazade kept her head
By captivating the Sultan with her enchanting tales
Of A Thousand and One Nights
My voyage took me to the land of the Minangkabaus
I shed silent tears for Siti Noerbaya
Who was married against her will to the cruel Datuk Maringgeh
My lips uttered every word in the letters written by Syamsul Bahri
To his lady love in Tenggelamnya Kapal Van de Wyck

My mind trekked the steps taken by the ill-fated protagonist
Who sought his fortune in Merantau ke Deli 
From Deli to Padang and Bukit Tinggi
Where myths of princesses who turned into fish with golden scales
Flourished in famous Sumatran folktales
Which Mak had collected from her days at the highlands      

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