Heritage is a fickle thing. It will die along with the old if it is not passed on to the next generation.
But it is a different story in places like Terengganu. A place built upon the pillars of traditions and heritage. What will become of it when the time comes for the past to dissolve and become nothing but the fake display in the deserted museum.
I thought I saw a flicker of sadness in the makcik and pakcik’s eyes whenever we asked them if they have children taking up what they have been doing since young. They would shrug and say, “Ah, what can you do? Kids have better things to look forward to these days. They don’t need these.” But judging from the downhearted tone in their voices, you know they would still hope their children would continue on the family business. When the time comes, they could die a happy man/woman knowing what they have lived their life on will still be alive when they are long gone.
What they do, is something that involves the entire family. No child, boy or girl, big or small, is ever left behind in this affair. Like the families making Keropok Lekor, Sata and Otak-Otak, famous tidbits in Terengganu made mainly from fish paste.
For Keropok Lekor, it is an industry. While one family goes out to sea to catch fishes, another will await the catch of the day. While one family grinds the fish to paste, another shapes them to boil. These food staples are so famous they got families - lots of them - making it. Every street you go down on, there will be at least one stall set up selling Keropok Lekor. In this case, such heritage is hard to die. Because it has become more than a heritage. It has become a breathing entity.
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