“Jadilah orang Cina!” (Be a Chinaman!) is a title of one short story in PETUALANGAN CELANA DALAM. As in my previous post, the story has setting place Semarang, especially Pendrikan and Magersari, where in the boundary of those two areas the writer of the book, Nugroho Suksmanto, was born. Let me quote the special stanza printed as an opening of the story.
Aku ingat betul pesan bapakku. Kalau ingin jadi pengusaha aku harus jadi orang “Cina”. Maksudnya tidak hanya bergaul dan memahami perilakunya, tetapi juga mendalami budayanya agar bisa sukses seperti mereka.
(I remember my father’s advice very well. If I want to be a businessperson, I have to be “a Chinaman”. He meant not only to socialize with Chinese and understand their behavior, but I also have to comprehend their culture and apply it in my daily life so that I can become successful as they are.)
In this story, Nugroho narrated a teenage boy’s experience before Ramadhan month came. Several weeks before Ramadhan, the dwellers of Magersari area were busy to do many activities to collect money to welcome Lebaran day, the biggest Holiday for Muslim. It had been a tradition to celebrate Lebaran, people wore new clothes, went sightseeing around the town, ate and drink to their heart’s content. To do all of those things, people needed much money.
What kind of activities did people in Magersari do to collect money? Such as making toys of ‘warak ngendog’ and piggy bank, making cookies, sewing clothes, and then they sold them in DUG-DER. Meanwhile for some naughty children, they tried their luck to collect money by gambling! Some games mentioned by Nugroho are ‘dadu kopyok’, ‘udar-bangkol’, ‘cap-sa’.
Talking about ‘dadu kopyok’ I remember I saw it done too in my dwelling place in 1970s, Bulu Setalan, on the south of Magersari. It was done by a group of people, adults, close to my house. (FYI, Bulu Setalan is a very crowded area where many small houses are built very close to each other, leaving no space for yard. In that era, my parents were one of two people in our alley who had televisions. No wonder in the evening, my house was always crowded by neighbors who wanted to watch television. This made me able to sneak out of the house to watch people gambling.) Curiously, I came close to it and watched those people playing. I thought it was just a kind of game. When I saw someone win, he could get much more money than the money he put on one number, I was amazed. Was it that easy to get much money with only a little capital? This made me think of taking some money from my piggy bank to join the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any other children around my age joining it. This made me doubtful. However, I was really tempted by the easy way to get much money. As a little child, I didn’t have any access to get much money in a short time besides asking for it to my parents. My relatives lived in one town in North Sulawesi, Gorontalo. This hampered me to enjoy one thing that other children did on Lebaran holiday: getting some pocket money from their grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, etc.
Thinking of the much money I would get led me to one thing: I had to take some money from my piggy bank! After I won, I could put my money back to my piggy bank, right? Among many neighbors watching television in the living room of my house, I sneaked into a special place where I hid my piggy bank, in one cupboard located in the kitchen. I did it in the dark so that I would not attract anybody’s attention. When making a small hole at the bottom my piggy bank carefully, but nervously (I felt like I had done a very big sin stealing my own saving in my own piggy bank), I was shocked by someone’s voice, “What are you doing in the dark Na? Why didn’t you turn on the lamp?”
I almost fainted. Huh, it was my brother!!! Feeling shy because he caught me in the act, but also feeling sure of what I was doing, I told him my plan. (In fact, he had watched me secretly for some time while I watched those adult people gambling.) Unfortunately he didn’t agree with me. He said, “That is called JUDI (Gambling). It is not just a common game! And you know that JUDI is HARAM in our religion. Don’t do this! No one is rich only because of gambling, our religion teacher said that, right? Our parents will be angry too to know this.”
Uh … I was very disappointed. However, as someone raised in a very strictly religious family, of course I was afraid of making sin, especially making my parents angry!
So? I never joined it even though I was very tempted. I still watched people playing it around my house until my dad found out and he forbade me to go out in the night to see those people.
P.S.: What is the relationship between the title of the short story with gambling? Read the story by yourself, will ya? :)
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1 Warak ngendog is a special creature that is believed to represent three different ethnic groups in Semarang: Javanese, Chinese and Arabian. Its head is like a dragon (Chinese), its body is the combination of buraq (a special animal believed to take Prophet Muhammad to Sidratil Muntaha => Arabian) and goat (Javanese).
2 Dug-der is a special event held some days before Ramadhan month. This is like a fair done in the evening. In the event, people sell many things, from children toys, clothes, various kinds of food—especially dates are sold because Muslim people believe that to break their fast during Ramadhan month, their fasting will be blessed more if they eat dates