May 30, 2005

"The Tenesmus of the Titans" - True Texas Bomoh Stories

The other day I ran across this story and thought I might contribute a few bomoh stories from my experiences here starting with "The Tenesmus of the Titans".

About five or six years back I was making a trip up to Teluk Anson, Perak which is now known as Teluk Intan. Perak is a beautiful state with a rich colonial history, if you ever get a chance, you need to make the trip up there and try to visit some of the remaining historical sites before they are gone.

It is about a two hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and so I called up ahead as I was on the highway and was told that Abang Din had arrived the day before and was very sick. Abang Din is a police officer in Kuala Lumpur and was up there for the weekend visiting relatives and had taken ill. I would find out just how ill he was once I arrived.

When I arrived, Abang Din was sprawled out on the sofa moaning in great pain while his wife and sister-in-law massaged his stomach and legs while giving him small sips of "blessed water" from a plastic one liter Coke bottle while a "bomoh" who had sold them the water for RM50 stood over them reciting verses from the Koran.

When I asked what was wrong, I was informed that Abang Din had not had a bowel movement in four days. Abang Din continued to moan in pain while his wife and sister-in-law were sobbing and frantically massaging his legs and stomach under the careful guidance of the bomoh.

Wanting to help I tried to inquire if it might have been something he ate or his diet and suggested that he go and see a doctor. Abang Din's wife told me that this had nothing to do with his diet. This was caused by the black magic of an evil bomoh from the "enemies" of Abang Din, those whom he had arrested in the past and those colleagues of his who were jealous that he had recently received a promotion at work. It became apparent to me that my attempts at convincing the others there that Abang Din needed to see a doctor were nothing more than an exercise in futility. I then thought of another idea.

Sparking great interest, I told the story of the ancient North American Indians in Texas and the Southwest United States and how for thousands of years they had their own medicine men who used natural remedies from the earth to counter the effects of black magic spells similar to the one that Abang Din suffered from. I told them that there was a "special powder" that I might be able to obtain that would relieve Abang Din from his terrible suffering. As they discussed this amongst themselves, Abang Din's wife asked me if this "special powder" was halal or not. I assured her that it was completely halal. Once receiving their confirmation and thanks, I set out in search of the magical powder.

By this time it was getting a bit late and it took me quite a while before I found a pharmacy that was still open. I went in and picked up a bottle of Metamucil and then headed back to the house.

By the time I got back the group was becoming impatient as Abang Din unable to relieve himself continued to groan in excruciating pain. They had finally managed to reach by telephone a much more powerful bomoh in Malacca who had agreed to stay up that night and see them once they arrived. It was about a four hour drive to Malacca and when I arrived back to the house they were already preparing to load Abang Din into the car for the road trip. I rushed in the house and told them that I had managed to obtain the powder and would prepare it for him to try if they would kindly wait another ten minutes or so. They agreed to give it a chance and I immediately went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and prepare it. In my rush I had accidently poured almost the entire contents of the bottle into the glass of water, as there was only a little left, I went ahead and poured the rest of the bottle into the glass and stirred it up.

The group helped Abang Din to sit up and I gave him the glass to drink. I told him he had to finish it all. Both Abang Din and his wife thanked me as he moaned and slowly drank the entire contents of the glass. By now it was almost 10:30pm and they needed to get on the road for the trip to Malacca so that they could arrive by 3am. I stood in the driveway and waved goodbye as the car sped off into the distance.

They never made it to Malacca by 3am. I would hear the next day that they never actually arrived until almost nine the next morning after having to stop every few minutes along the way so that Abang Din could relieve himself. Abang Din continued to relieve himself for the entire trip until there was nothing more inside of him to relieve. And when there was nothing more to relieve, Abang Din relieved himself again and again and again.

Luckily, the services of the Malacca bomoh were never required.

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