The Petarian Mag - Petarian Literature


_____God is great                                      Shan e Haider- Qasim House

Looking three years back from the start till today
Our life moved so quick in a beautiful way
A healthy start-up on a desert bay
In a systematic way
Working in extreme weathers
Living in desert
Friendly working environment
Supporting colleagues and what not                                     Poet
These all events are memorable for us, and left prints of unforgettable moments these days will remain in our lives like golden days.

All these around is beautiful
Cool breeze
In sand some green trees
Sara gas pipeline when it freezes
And after all the desert peace
Sunny summer
Made us harder

This all supports us
To become energetic
Move towards a one goal

These all are blessings
By the God
By the Lord
Allah the cherisher and sustainers of the world
Most gracious
Most merciful
Master of the judgment day
Show us the straight way

_____Most Peaceful Job                 Altaf Ahmed Shaikh - Liaquat House

As there were no schooling facilities for children on board ship, I left sea life for shore job and joined Maritime Academy Malaysia situated at Malacca-a historical city and port. There were a dozen of other ship captains and chief Engineers like me, from various different countries. Among them there was Mr. Zulkifli, a young local Malay Marine engineer. He was very shy and soft-spoken. My observation for him was that he should have not left sea life for shore job so early – specially for teaching job in which the pace of life is very slow.


For a young active man it is better to face the challenges of sea and mechanical problems. One should try to gain as much experience as possible at sea before imparting knowledge as an instructor. And again at shore a young marine engineer like him should prefer practical job in factories, five star Hotel etc where one can work on ship like machineries such as boiler, generator, electric power distribution, pumps, refrigeration plant etc and prove his worth. And of course the salary in those jobs is also much higher than in teaching. But our Malay friend Zulkifli preferred teaching as according to him; there is a peace of mind in it while in other fields there are numerous problems of subordinate staff.

“They always grumble for more holidays, salary increments, house or car allowances, medical and children education facilities, better uniform and working conditions etc etc,” he tried to explain, “and even owners and the bosses create headaches when there is engine problem at high seas, a machine unit stops working at factory or some air condition system of hotel fails.”

Those were some of the reasons for which our Malay friend didn’t like to work on board ship, factory or in a 5-Star hotel – who usually employ marine engineers. Mr. Zulkifli wanted calmness and tranquillity in his life; hence he grounded himself in this educational institute.

But it was a matter of a few months only. The quiet and un-disturbing life he desired was not achieved. One fine morning he came to inform me about his resignation.

“Why?” obviously I was surprised to ask him.

“I don’t like working here also. Everywhere there are problems and problems. On ship seamen and in port dock worker make life miserable.”

“And here?” I asked.

“Student create nuisance – everyday they bring unimaginable ship problems for extricating solutions… I can’t understand where to go … there seems to be no place for serene and harmonic life.”

I stared at him and said: “Yes Mr. Zulkifli, in my opinion there is one place.”

“Siapa Kerja?” (What Job?) he asked in Malay.

Mr. Zulkifli made a grim face and said: “It is all the same. In this juncture of century even Zamindari is not an easy thing. It is like an industry. Besides pumping your investment in better seed and better chemicals you have to face crook farmers who have unending demands…” he stopped and became quite for a while and then all of a sudden some novel idea flashed to his mind, “.. Yes Mr. Altaf. In cultivation there is one sector in which there is a serenity and charm. And that is coconut plantation.”

‘How come?” Certainly he surprised me by saying so.

“Because monkeys neither demand higher salaries nor medical or other facilities.

“Saya tidak faham!” (I could not get you) I showed the blankness.

“You see,” he tried to explain me, “Malaysian soil and climate is ideal for the coconut plantation. In coconut plantation there is no need of farmers or daily–wageworkers. You have to buy the coconut seedlings and plant them only once. There is no need of watering as rains meet the requirement. So you don’t need any body to look after it. After five or six years when the trees bear fruit just keep two or three monkeys for plucking purpose. You keep them busy for whole day and just two or three bananas are sufficient to keep the poor souls happy.”

On that day, I came to know that coconut from these tall trees of Malaysia is plucked by monkeys. Soon after that, I shifted from my 3rd floor apartment to a vacated house. It was a large house on sea beach with many fruit trees uch as durian, rambutan, doku and about half a dozen coconut trees.

On one Sunday morning, while sitting outside of my house on a cement bench, and reading newspaper a man came on bike with a monkey sitting on its handle. He parked his bike under durian tree and advanced towards me with monkey on his shoulder. He was holding a long rope in one hand and malayan dagger in other. I thought he came to perform some monkey tricks for children. I felt sorry that my children left for a picnic an hour earlier and that they missed the monkey show. On my informing him so, he told that he brings monkey in our neighbourhood for coconut plucking as it is not easy for human beings to climb such old and very tall trees.

There I learnt that it was a common practice throughout the Malaysia as one cannot afford to keep his monkey just for a few trees. The monkey-man keeps 7 percent of coconut plucked or its price for the job – and this is the accepted rate throughout Malaysia and southern Thailand.

On my consent monkey –man loosened the long rope and signaled his boy (monkey) to climb the tree for plucking. On reaching top of the tree the monkey started examining coconut one by one before plucking them. The monkey plucked only those which were fully ripe and brownish in colour, because according to monkey man, his ‘boy’ is trained only for those type of coconuts. There are monkeys who can pluck the green ones also (used for drinking milk only)if their owner orders them so.

Later I came to know that Malacca has reputed ‘monkey-school’ for training monkeys in Coconut plucking. People from other states of Malaysia come to Malacca to buy trained (rather graduated ) monkey or they leave their under graduates for training in plucking coconut of various grades. And there are morning sessions as well as loading and boarding arrangements so as the monkey can stay in hostel for training period with extra fees.

To pluck the coconut is not an easy thing. You cannot just pull the coconut from tree like a mango or an apple. You have to rotate and rotate the coconut till the jute like joining cord snaps. And that is what monkey was doing after searching for the correct pick. Besides that there are various poisonous insects on tree and I had a very bitter experience of that during my early days in Malaysia while plucking ‘king coconuts’ – Which are grown on dwarfed trees. Monkeys on the contrary feel happy in that environment as they take it as feast and enjoy eating insects as well as large ants and wasps.

After completing one tree the monkey came down obeying his master’s order. On the nearer ones the monkey jumped from one tree top to another without coming down. Anyhow for this the monkey –man has to decide for the safety factor. After finishing a few trees, the monkey-man called his ‘boy’ down instead of making a direct flight to another tree. The man took out a banana from his cloth bag and handed over to monkey to enjoy. Monkey became very happy to get it and after giving a low-pitched shrill he sat down in the feet of his master and started nibbling the banana. The monkey never bothered whether it was over–riped or raw one, and whether it was ‘pisang emas’ (golden banana) a superior and export quality banana of Malaysia) or it was simple ‘pisang tandok’ (‘horn of bull’ banana – the inferior variety – not eaten as fruit but cooked as a vegetable).

After watching this drama I realized that my Malay friend Zulkifli was very much correct.