It is not often, in fact quite rare that we find more than one latah person at the same time at one particular location for the same particular purpose. That happened to me a few days ago at the Gading Hawker Centre, Lundu. All together, at that time, they were four of them and all have past their golden jubilee breathing the air of this earth. All four are still very active and healthy thus their almost everyday presence at the stall to sell their fresh from the jungle produce which serves as a testimony. And all of them are dear ladies of whom are very familiar to me.
As always, whenever I have a chance to shop for fresh jungle produce for our lunch and dinner table at the hawker centre, I would first ‘provoke’ these latah ladies to react to my teasing and bodily gestures. The most common ‘provocative action’ that I would perform is to dance for a few seconds in front of any of them. For some, my actions might be seen as ‘improper and unbecoming’ or even ‘cruel’. But being jovial and ‘naughty’ that I am, seldom do I miss the chance to make other sellers and customers smile and laugh a little bit upon seeing how these latah ladies react when I tease them. This time however, I armed myself with a camera just for the purpose of recording their actions.
Latah is a condition of hyper startling found in certain parts of the world that is commonly considered a culture-specific syndrome. Wikipedia has a short description of what latah is as can be found here. Below are some of the frames of what I managed to capture. Please click on pictures to view larger images.
A while later, I manage to lure two latah ladies to perform a dance festival by first dancing myself.
The dance festival in full action. Notice the lady in red (with a black pouch) laughing almost uncontrollably on seeing the two graceful dancers.
The lady in red T-shirt is telling the two cultural dancers that time is up for a more serious affair of selling and buying.
"Well, it's not over yet", says the lady in white shirt. "Let's rock, baby! Rock here, rock there, rock everywhere."
"I am satisfied now that I have proved to the world that I can dance to any tune, any where, any time." Bet that was what the lady in pink T-shirt is saying to herself.
"Adios, until tommorrow!" Meanwhile, the other latah lady in white shirt is still dancing thus the onlookers are still laughing and smiling.
My friend, Mr David (standing, black trousers/cap, bright T-shirt) of Lundu District Council collects the toll. He does this almost without fail every morning.
As a Salako Bidayuh myself, I am really proud and happy to note that majority of these small time entrepreneurial folks are of the same race as I am. They really toiled hard to make an honest and respectable living. On good seasons, they earned a handsome four figures. With this kind of humble but notable deeds, I suppose staff of the Welfare Service Department (Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat) are less burdened with giving and processing application forms for distribution of aids. Bravo Salako Bidayuh!