“This book is written for several purposes,” Rasyid went on. “First, I want to share some stories and ancient history concerning Aceh for all to view. So that it is not lost swallowed by the sands of time…”
“What do mean by using the word ‘concerning'” Asri cuts the conversation.
“There is a reason… Because the stories are not just about Aceh. In fact it include events and related characters in Malaysia… Stories which as far as I now has not been featured or elaborated in official form whether in books or magazines.”
“Hmm… Have your heard the name Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah, the ruler of Melaka?”
“Hey! Of course I’ve heard the name… I’ve learnt about it since in primary school,” Asri answered with a less than pleased tone.
“Ha! Good for you then,” Rasyid continued with a smile.
“Here, I want to tell you something,” he opens up. “The book Sulalatus Salatin (an old Malay text) also known as the History of the Malays written by Tun Sri Lanang did mention the Sultan died in the palace of Melaka, after making a will for the throne to be given to Sultan Mahmud. But there’s people who say that Sultan Alauddin have long left Melaka… Because there’s a conspiracy to topple him from power! Anyway there was actually a more deserving heir!”
Asri went quiet. It seems he is interested to know more… Surely stories like this are intriguing enough, stories about the Malays but…
“Are you confident with these tales,” the friend asks for clarification. “What if somebody challenges you, where did you get all this? Some might even say how dare you, trying to be clever, trying to go against the official interpretation of history, trying to write new tales… How would you answer that?”
Rasyid smiled upon hearing the line of questions. Actually, he saw it all forthcoming…
“Hey! Why are you smiling?” now Asri is more perplexed. “I’m asking serious questions. How would you answer if people start asking questions and challenge your interpretations?”
“Look! Be patient,” came the answer. “The kind of things I’m trying to tell here takes time to understand as it must be studied in detail carefully. You just can’t swallow it all in one go. That’s why I’m writing a book… To tell all and sundry in a way that can be properly understood!”
The truth is it’s not just Asri who felt that way. Rasyid often tried to forward his ‘theories’ on historical events to anyone who would give him the time of the day, generally about Melaka, the Malay lands and the Archipelago, particularly about the olden kings related to the Verandah of Mecca. And so his friends became the ‘victims” whenever there’s chance, that is almost everytime he came across them!
It can’t be denied, since the last three years, the Muar, Johor-born lad is very obsessed, always wanting to talk about such old tales… So much so that it seems he hasn’t got the slightest interest in talking about sundry and ‘normal’ things like matters relating to work and family. Not only that, most of the stories he told do not exist in any official record. No wonder many are questioning what he is up to… Some are even questioning his sanity!
Yes. His interest can be considered very strange, as if there is nothing else to be talked about. While most people are busy looking forward to this IT (information technology) open sky world and the latest science and technology innovations, Rasyid on the other hand seems like he wanted to return to the dark ages, so obsessed with old tales which don’t exist in official history. Still, the lad is supremely confident with the stories and views he held along with unique arguments which he believe can hold water, even if the arguments are not as strong as the academical ones forwarded by historians.
“Anyway, I never claim to be an expert in history,” he willingly concedes… Realising he hasn’t got any qualification to make people take serious note of his views, what more for anyone to take it as the gospel.
“But this doesn’t mean I just write as I please,” he said, advocating his confidence. “I have a degree although not in history. And I’ve served five years as a journalist with a leading mainstream English newspaper in the country… Trained to study every information in detail so that it can held accountable, not depending on street or coffee shop talk, surely not gossips or just plainly shooting from the hips…”
According to him, he had spent much energy and time going to several locations and met plenty of characters… All these so that he can study the old tales and stories he got from many angles and views before he dares pushing it forward to the masses.
“Whatever, read the book completely first… Then only can you make fair comments.”