Tuesday, May 16, 2017


50.  (Seperti) harimau 
menunjukkan belangnya
The tiger reveals its stripes
Showing one's true colors. Dogs bark as they are bred. 

51. Berahi geliga di perut landak

Lusting after the bezoar stone 
in the porcupine's maw

Seeking the miraculous amidst the mundane. Looking for jewels in the sewer. A quest not only unlikely to suceed, but verging on the bathetic. Hope, however, springs eternal!

52.  Genggam kera
A monkey's grip

An inescapable sitiuation. Unrelenting circumstance. To be a plaything in the cruel and mischievous hands of Fate.

53.  Cintakan geliga di mulut naga
Yearning for the bezoar stone 
in the dragon's mouth

A desire or fantasy unlikely to be fulfilled. (The mythical bezoar stone - geliga or guliga - is also known as the Dragon's Pearl. Anyone who possesses the geliga is believed to be irresistible in love and invincible in war.)

54.  Ditempuh nyamuk terbalik, 
ditindah lalat tak dapat bangkit

     Toppled by a mosquito's thrust, 
crushed by an alighting fly

Too feeble to fight back. Weak spirited. At death's door.

55.  Harimau mati meninggalkan belang, gajah mati 
meninggalkan tulang, 
manusia mati 
meninggalkan nama
When a tiger dies it leaves its stripes; an elephant leaves its bones; a man, his name

Everything leaves its mark in eternity. "The evil that men do lives after them," said Mark Antony, "the good is oft interred with the bones." How does that figure - or was it mere rhetoric? 

 56. Bagai kepiting batu
Like a hard-shelled, huge-pincered rock crab

Well-armored and quickly aroused to aggression. Paranoid, unfriendly, warlike.

57.  Kalau tidak dipecah ruyung 
di mana boleh mendapat sagu?
Without splitting the trunk of the palm, 
how can sago be obtained?

You can't make omelets without breaking eggs.

58.  Kalau air tenang, jangan disangkakan tiada buaya
Don't let the calm water fool you into thinking 
there are no crocodiles

It could be the lull before the storm. Danger often lurks 
under a cover of innocence. A wolf can appear in sheep's clothing.

59.  (Seperti) katak di bawah tempurung
Like the frog under a coconut shell

Provincial mindset, petty jingoism, a parochial outlook deriving 
from narrow-minded conceit. Despite having never left the confines 
of its domicile (or fallout shelter), the frog nonetheless feels qualified 
to pontificate on the world-at-large.

The cultural solipsist thinks the stars are tiny leaks in his roof.
Ignorance is the mother of impudence. He who knows nothing, 
doubts nothing. After all, what you don't know can't hurt you. 

60.  (Laksana) katak sedikit hujan banyak bermain
 Frogs celebrating a drizzle

Little things please little minds. Said of those too easily pleased. Rustic gullibility. 

61.  Kelip-kelip terbang malam
A firefly on the wing at night

No concealment. Easily spotted. An open secret.

62.  Kuat burung kerana sayap, 
kuat ketam kerana sepit
 The bird's strength comes from its wings, 
the crab's from its claws

A ruler is only as good as his ministers. The power behind the throne. 
A restaurant is only as good as its chef.

63. Mati semut dalam gula
Sugar will be the death of ants

Soft words will allay petty animosity. The seductive power of sweet words. 
Can also be said of fatal obsessions or addictions.

64. Kura-kura hendak memanjat 
pokok kayu
The tortoise wants to climb trees

An absurd or foolish aspiration ("If God intended man to fly, 
he would have given us wings"). If pigs could fly.
Totally contrary in spirit to "no venture, no gain" - or Ralph Waldo Emerson's 
classic admonition to "hitch your wagon to a star."

65.  Putus kelikir rompong hidung
Like a buffalo with a broken nose-ring 
and torn nostril

Very difficult to control or lead around by the nose. 
No longer domesticable. A renegade on the loose.

66. Kutu embun
A dew-bug

Said of those fond of staying out till the wee hours. 
Night owl. (Embun or dew is synonymous with night.)

 67.  (Seperti) kera dapat canggung
(Like) a monkey grabbing a dead branch (to save itself from drowning)

A desperate move. Clutching at straws. Hanging on for dear life.

 68. Sarang tebuan jangan dijolok, 
mati kena ketubung
Do not disturb a hornet's nest, 
you'll only be stung to death 

Let sleeping dogs lie.

69.  (Seperti) rusa masuk kampung
(Like) a deer venturing into a village

To be awkward and shy in unfamiliar surroundings. 
Like a fish out of water. A country bumpkin in town. 

70.  (Seperti) pacat melompat

(Like) a leaping leech

Bloodsucker and extortionist extraordinaire. A term of derision 
popularized by Abdullah, the great chronicler, who used this phrase 
on the corrupt sanitary inspectors of old Melaka.

71.  Tuma menyorokkan hulu
The louse hides its head (thinking it won’t be seen)

An attempt to cover up that’s doomed to fail. Ostrich burying its head 
in the sand (to avoid capture). Lousy alibi (pun intended).

72.  Ular menyusur akar 
takkan hilang bisanya
The snake may move around the root 
(rather than over it) but that does not 
weaken its venom

Small acts of courtesy shown, especially to those in a humble position, 
in no way detracts from a strong man’s power. 
Deviousness disguised by diplomacy.

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