#19: Si Tanggang: Reloaded

Tanggang lived with his mother in a dilapidated wooden house, after his father was eaten alive by an ill-tempered tiger. They were so poor that Tanggang had to drop out of high school, and that put paid to his ambitions to become a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon.

Tanggang was very close to my mother and he could see how much his mother had sacrificed to give him a comfortable life. He promised himself that he would one day get a good job to improve their lot in life. He swore that he would take care of his mother without employing a foreign maid.

One day, a ship arrived from a distant land and cast its anchor off the beach near where Tanggang lived. As luck would have it, the crew held, among other things, a recruitment drive for suitable candidates aged sixteen and above, regardless of previous qualifications and work experience, to join the ship as an apprentice.

Having read the brochure, Tanggang figured that this was the opportunity he’s been waiting for. He could graduate with a Diploma in Marine Engineering and, more importantly, get the hell out of the depressing village.

He begged his mother to allow him to join the crew to sail and seek his fortune and a better life. Despite her misgivings and initial objection, Tanggang’s mother finally relented and tearfully gave her blessings and prayed for his safe return.

Years passed and there was not a single word from Tanggang. There was not even a postcard, and his mother could only assume that Tanggang was having a good time in some white, sandy beaches, and enjoying a spot of Western decadence, debauchery and hedonism in general.

The truth was much simpler, less immoderate and certainly less lecherous than his prolonged absence may have suggested. Tanggang was actually busy working on the ship as apprentice.

He started as a rigger and moved on to become a bosun, and finally a marine engineer after he completed the requisite on-the-job training in a shipbuilding discipline and specialised engineering work rotations.

Along the way, he fell in love with the ship captain’s daughter, Cheryl Cole, and married her. When his father-in-law was tragically eaten by an octopus in a water skiing accident, Tanggang took over the ship as the Skipper by a unanimous vote by his shipmates.

Several more years passed, and a ship cast its anchor at the same spot off the beach near Tanggang’s village. The crew did some trading with the locals, and words began to spread that the young Captain was, in fact, Tanggang, the village’s own long lost son.

Tanggang’s mother was elated to learn that the captain on the ship was none other than her beloved son who had been gone for many years. Overjoyed, she cooked and packed Tanggang’s favourite food, cek mek molek,[1] and she then rowed her sampan to the ship.

When the boat neared the ship, the crew informed the captain. Tanggang came to take a look, with Cheryl Cole by his side.

“Tanggang! This is your mother! I have missed you so much!”

Tanggang was discombobulated and mortified at the sight of his old mother. He was also feeling slightly guilty for not inviting her to his lavish wedding reception in Florida.

“Who is that, my dear?” asked Cheryl Cole.

Tanggang quickly regained his composure and responded, “Oh, she’s just an old woman probably trying to sell us an insurance policy.”

“Tanggang, don’t you recognise your own mother anymore? I have brought you your favourite cek mek molek,” his mother implored.

Embarrassed at being offered such pedestrian and fattening fare, Tanggang and barked, “How dare you call me ‘son’? My name is Louis Van Gaal and I don’t even know you. What do you want from me?”

“What did you just say, Tanggang? How could you forget your own mother?” his mother said in tears.

By this time, the mother is completely distraught and said, “You must be ashamed of me in my rags, now that you’ve hit the big time and you have a beautiful wife. Don’t you remember those years when I took care of you?”

“Go away, you impertinent old woman! Don’t you dare set food on my ship or I will punish you!” yelled Tanggang.

“Are you sure that’s not your mother?” asked a rather nonplussed Cheryl Cole.

“I’m pretty sure she’s not. I’m half-Korean, and she doesn’t even look remotely Korean,” retorted Tanggang.

Now thoroughly humiliated and utterly crushed, Tanggang’s mother slowly rowed her sampan away from the ship, crying in silence.

As the ship was about to set sail the next day, Tanggang’s mother – now royally cheesed off with his attitude – whispered a quiet prayer to herself. “Oh God, please show my son how wrong he was to have hurt his mother like this.”

The sky promptly grew dark and the wind started to whip up a perfect storm. Tanggang’s ship got a real shellacking from the furious vortex and soon capsized. The ship, the entire crew and Cheryl Cole turned to stone.

Tanggang howled in repentance, “Forgive me, Mother, for I have sinned!”

But it was all too late, and Tanggang turned into a 65” Samsung Curved Smart TV, and his mother got to watch Korean drama to her heart’s content.

Which wass brilliant, because arguably, turning Tanggang into stone would have been a waste of a perfectly good curse.

[1] A local delicacy made from sweet potato with sugar filling, deep-fried for that delicious taste and extra calories.

#19: Si Tanggang: Reloaded

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