‘Pantun Wajib’ means ‘Compulsory Poem’, in reference to the tradition of concluding speeches with pantun. If you’re unfamiliar with the term or form, a pantun is somewhat like a ruba’i but with an ABAB rhyming scheme. I’ve always wanted to write some when I find an appropriate subject matter, then I realised that there’s plenty of things to make fun off in a typical work day. I decided it would be best honoured in the original language.

Performed at Shades of Art X on August 2.

Text and translation under the cut.

1.
Anak dara menumpah gula
Datanglah semut dipicit mati
Kalau diberi jam bermula
Baik waktunya akan ditepati

2. (Omitted from reading)
Sambil menunggu makan mi sapi
Selepas bergegas selaju keretapi
Di mana pergi wahai Si IP
Kereta VIP berpusing blok lagi

3.
Buluh lemang dipanggang api
Kopi manis menyakitkan gigi
Tetamu terhormat harus ditemani
Nanti sesat antara pentas dan kerusi

4.
Salam pembukaan, tiada dilupai
Ucapan ada dalam saku seluar
Jangan berucap panjang sekali
Mata sudah menatap jalan keluar

5.
Selesai majlis di hujung pagi
Tirai sudah ditutup rapi
Terima kasih daun keladi
Jangan buang masa lain kali

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In the reading, I omitted stanza 2 because it just doesn’t translate well into a reading. Here’s is a non-rhyming translation, with notes where applicable.

1.
A maiden spills sugar
Ants come and are squashed dead
If you are given a starting time
It would be nice if it was honoured

2.
Eat beef noodles while waiting
After rushing over like a train
Where is that Important Person?
The VIP’s car is making another drive around the block

*I was once waiting for the guests of honour to arrive when I was notified that the second most important guest has not arrived so the VIP had to be taken for another spin around the block by his driver. They apparently have to arrive in reverse order of importance to receive the more important guy as he gets out of the car.

3.
Lemang bamboo roasting over fire
Sweet coffee hurts the teeth
Guest of honour must be accompanied
Least he gets lost between the stage and his seat

*Lemang is a delicious glutinous rice dish cooked inside a hollow bamboo that is cooked over a fire.
**The guest of honour/VIP is nearly always escorted by a girl dressed up in traditional costume to the stage. This might be necessary in an elaborate stage setup, but usually it’s so straightforward that I have to entertain other logistic concerns.

4.
Salutations, none forgotten
Speech is in the pants pocket
Don’t talk so long
Eyes are on the exit route

*Some salutations can go on for a good five minutes, especially if there’s a lot of Important People with long job titles.

5.
Ceremony done end of morning
Curtains have been tightly closed
Thank you yam leaf
Don’t waste time next time

*There was a long discussion on my Facebook timeline about the meaning of “Terima kasih daun keladi” because it translates to “Thank you yam leaf”. In the end, I found reference that it’s a filler line that balances the second part “Kalau boleh hendak lagi” (If possible, want it again). Of course it’s going into my pantun.

If you caught me saying “Terimalah” before I began, it’s another one of those things that grate on my nerves when people say it. It’s commonly used by singers who are just about to launch into song. To me, it’s just a polite way of saying, “NAH!”