Mat Zin wanted to be a soldier since he was a kid.
The dream sparked when he first saw a British army officer who was at the time stationed in his hometown's police station walking around in his village one fine Sunday evening. The Englishman flashed his extremely extravagant army apparel as he moved along the path in front of the house, followed by a bunch of local policemen and a pack of small kids who were completely awed by the Englishman appearance, where the 5-year old Mat Zin was playing by himself in the open yard of the house. Seeing this, Mat Zin was so shocked that he stood naked (at that time it was common for little kids to be seen naked) with his tiny thing dangling about, thinking about what his mom had told him earlier, that, "if you are so stubborn, the ghost is going to come and get you".
The only knowledge Mat Zin had about ghost was that it was white in color. And Lord knew how freaked out he was when the white man started to walk towards him slowly. "This is it," thought Mat Zin, "I'm gonna get it". He was so freaked out that his fuse finally went off and he became completely paralyzed.
He just stood there with his tiny thing still dangling about.
The white man approached Mat Zin and said something in a language he never had heard before, and this led him to believe that the white man was indeed the Satan that his mother was telling him about earlier and he was chanting some sort of satanic verses before capturing him alive like the kids who trailed the white man's back. And Mat Zin knew those kids very well. They were the kids who followed Mat Zin's lead to play out till sunset only to return home late and became as stubborn as he was.
"It must be them who told the Satan about my current whereabout," said Mat Zin to himself. "Damn disloyal bastards."
The white man then smiled, lifting his brown thick, curly mustache upwards towards his blue eyes and placed his both hands on each of Mat Zin's body side and lifted him up. Mat Zin however did not make not even the slightest move, and soon as everyone knew it, Mat Zin lost his control and started peeing on the white man's army uniform out of extreme fear.
And then he passed out.
When he woke up two days after that, which was quite long for a kid to regain consciousness again after passing out, first thing he saw was his family members and village people who greeted his conscious being with ultimate happiness and joy. His house was filled with food and grocery items, mounting up to the roof. It was not until his father told him that he finally learned that all the food and gifts were from the 'Satan', from which he later knew was an army officer, and that he passed out after he peed all over him two days back. Flooded with guilt, the army officer left his family whole stocks of food that could last for the next two years as to seek forgiveness for making Mat Zin passed out, before leaving to another state to fulfill his duty in Malaya.
And at time itself, Mat Zin decided to become an army officer when he grew up; one reason because he wanted to fill up his house with foods so that nobody will sleep in hunger anymore, one reason because he wanted to travel around in neat, flashy clothes and not being naked anymore, and one reason because being a dark kid he was, he wanted to at least be 'a little bit fairer than everyone else in the village'. And he hoped that his dream will one day come true.
As for his own good, the British also left him a pair of shorts made from sugar sack, so that he could cover his tiny thing from dangling about.
And Mat Zin was never happier.
* * *
When he first reached Camp Port Dickson that cold Sunday morning, he was all excited to see the British and the Malays marching together on the open marching yard in such beautiful and synchronized formation seen from the lorry he was transported in all the way from his hometown, a total one hundred and fifty miles away from he at the time was. The excitement that he showed was so intense that the British recruiting officer who was there to witness the incoming lorries full of army wannabes was reported to describe Mat Zin as "the boy whose cheese has done slid off his cracker". In fact his behavior had been recorded in written form the first time he showed up at the army enrollment center back in his hometown a week earlier by another British officer as "the loudest, most charmingly cheerful lad upon knowing he was accepted, could be the first to die from extreme excitement should the war arrives soon".
The twenty-year old Mat Zin still looked as if he was twelve - relatively shorter, smaller and still as darker than everyone else who enrolled in the army that day. Nevertheless the British accepted him into the barrack after he successfully completed a 2-mile run five minutes earlier than everyone else, many thanks to almost everyday practice he had each time he came back from school, and later from work, when he was kept on being chased after by the same black stray dog that never gave up chasing on him for a consistent period of more than four years until when the poor dog was hit by a lorry during its last pursuit to bite his ass just a few months back, bringing with its dead carcass together the real reason why it kept on pursuing him from the first day it saw the unsuspecting Mat Zin walking on the road back from school. The dog's death was unknown to Mat Zin, and this had made him run as fast as the wind blows each time he passed that lonely road even though the dog was no longer there, which went unnoticed because of Mat Zin's speed. And this benefited Mat Zin in his 2-mile run at the training camp; not only he made the recruiting British spectacularly impressed by breaking the company's record, he also broke the fastest time ever recorded in the entire British military worldwide by three minutes.
But despite his achievement, Mat Zin was not accepted as a soldier. Instead he was sent to serve under the Service Corp., as the company's cook.
This somewhat did not affect Mat Zin at all. He had been a cook since he was small, probably the result from the raw food that was left by the British man whom Mat Zin still thought was feeling guilty because he got peed on by a kid. "What a strange man," thought Mat Zain.
Mat Zin did his job better and happier than every cook in the training camp did, and he cooked well too. By one year after he was accepted into the army, his great skills in cooking was made known to everyone in the training camp, and by a few months after that the story spread even further away to England and India from which many British officers in the mentioned countries sent their cooks over to Port Dickson to learn cooking from Mat Zin. That was how Malay cuisines was believed to have first traveled all across the Indian Ocean and the West Pacific and introduced in foreign countries, enjoyed by many up until this day, endless thanks to the unrecorded efforts of Private Mat Zin.
Mat Zin enjoyed his job as a cook at the training camp for three years until he was sent to assist the battle against the communist along with his troops somewhere deep in the jungle of Perak, still as a cook. Provided with endless resources of food in the jungle, Mat Zin cooked most of the time, even when no one was hungry, in the pursuit to create new food recipes using plants and whatnot around him as ingredients. A lieutenant who stayed in the same camp Mat Zin did had once said "even if he cooked rocks and leaves together, the boys'll still like it". And this had certainly sent the troops' spirit skyrocketing. "Well what could be the best thing ever than to have endless supply of delicate meals after one hard, tiring battle?" an unnamed officer wrote in his letter to the Army HQ when describing their conditions in the jungle.
Mat Zin's extremely delicious meals had made many men in his company to complete their battle tasks in unbelievably short time so that they won't miss Mat Zin's 'Surprise of the Day' meals back in camp shortly after battle. The men too took care of themselves pretty good in order to ensure that they reached the camp safely in one piece and strong enough to make themselves ready at the dinner tables with napkins hampered on their hips and forks and spoons in each hands. And nothing boosted their morale closer to divine level other than to see Mat Zin popping out from the kitchen with large pots of foods with that grin he usually made each time he popped out from the kitchen.
By the seventh month since posted, the troops had cleared all mines and booby traps and had killed, wounded or captured more than 700 communists who resided in the jungle territory that was under their watch, an achievement that usually took other troops fifteen months or more to complete.
However not all days were happy meal days. One night, the camp was ambushed from every corner by communist soldiers who came to avenge the deaths and captures of their fellow comrades by the camp troops. The camp was attacked non-stop with hand fragment-grenades, bullet fires from countless AK-47s rifles and machine guns, and somewhat fist-size rocks thrown by some of the angry mobs who were high in spirit but were too lazy to pick up the guns and fire.
The lucky thing was that the camp was empty because most of the men were out to battle at somewhere far away, but the unlucky thing was that there were still men guarding the camp including the other battle-unfit soldiers, field officers and support personnel, one of them was Mat Zin, who was at the time sleeping in one of the 50-liter steel pot he used to cook foods in to feed the infantrymen before they left for battle in the evening earlier. He woke up from the blast of the first grenade; it was not the loud bang of the grenade that woke him up but the sound of a flying saucer pan, from which the grenade exploded next to, that hit the steel pot he was sleeping in; the sound that was similar to the sound his mom used to make by banging two steel saucers together next to his ears to wake him up for sahur every morning during the fasting month back at home.
When he opened the pot's lid, he was shocked to see what had happened to his camp; blazing fire everywhere, completely an upside down scene he had never seen before. Even more shocking, his kitchen was no longer where he left it, and out of every odd things that were there in the inferno, he happened to be in the oddest: a big, shiny metal pot that had no earthly business doing there resting on an open ground that used to be a kitchen but was no longer there, a fact that no matter how Mat Zin tried to find an explanation for in his head, he still could not possibly understand it. I mean, how could a ten-by-ten-feet field kitchen could disappeared just like that? It made no sense at all.
It was grave lucky that none of the communist soldiers saw Mat Zin standing, only in a sarong, in a big, shiny metal pot that had no earthly business doing there resting on an open ground that used to be a kitchen but was no longer there while he kept on iterating his ideas and thoughts in search for an explanation why his kitchen had disappeared. It was not until he saw one of the raiding communists, apparently the lazy bump who threw rocks instead of shooting from a gun, standing before him that he realized the camp was under attack. The enemy soldier, happened to have one more rock left in one of his hands, threw it at Mat Zin in a full-force manner, barely hitting him at all but hit a tiny steel pot next to him and toppled it upside down, spilling its content all over the floor. Seeing the pot, that happened to be Mat Zin's personal pot where he usually stored leftover food to be later heated again for himself, spilled its content, he turned around to look at the enemy soldier, who was at the time desperately looking for another rock to throw, in nothing but complete anger.
As he marched stepped out from the pot, the enemy soldier had finally found a thumb-size pebble on the ground and threw it at him, hitting him on the forehead. This had caused Mat Zin to become angrier. He marched towards the enemy, who was intensely terrified, and delivered a kick right on his nuts; a kick so hard that it sent the enemy down curling in pain only God knew how terrible it was with both hands in between his legs before passing out soon after.
Mat Zin pointed at him and said, "show respect to food!" before fleeing into the dark jungle all by himself, in nothing but a sarong.
* * *
It was raining the following day.
Mat Zin woke up in a strange place - on a branch of a tree he was hugging thirty-feet above the ground. He was shocked when he learned about this, but it was even more shocking when he learned that his sarong had traveled all the way down to the ground, and that he was completely naked. To top that shocking truth, he soon found out that there were red ants occupying the tree he was hugging onto, and that their football-size nest was just three feet away from him. This caused him to panic and lost his control, and fell all the way down to the ground, his landing cushioned by the fluffy bushes underneath. He stood up and brushed the dirt and leaves off himself, took his sarong and was about to wear it when he suddenly heard someone walking from a distance away. He quickly squatted and from beyond the leaves he saw someone walking towards him.
The person turned out to be the guy he kicked in the nuts the night before. From the look of it, he must have been left behind by his friends, thought to be already dead, especially with that facial expression he made when he passed out last night. Mat Zin grabbed his sarong, all wet from the rain, and twisted it into something similar to a baseball bat. When the man got real close to him, Mat Zin popped out from behind the bushes and swung the sarong bat at the surprised enemy, who was still clearly suffering from the blow he received last night in the groin from exactly the same person. The hit knocked the man out, and Mat Zin took off his clothes and wore them on himself. Then he marched on, leaving the enemy buck naked; not that because Mat Zin took his underwear too, it was because he didn't wear any.
"Well at least his balls won't suffer so much," thought Mat Zin to himself. "Must be painful though to have them swollen to the size of a yellow onion each."
Mat Zin never knew what happened to everyone else in the camp last night. He kept on walking through the bushes all by himself. When he was tired, he sat down under the trees and ate some of the edible forest fruits he found before he continued walking. Later in the evening when Mat Zin was still walking the jungle to find a way out, he smelled something in the air, clearly from someone's cooking. "This is wrong," he said to himself, "the cook should have put some clovers first". In total annoyance he walked towards the smell, only to find out that the smell had led him to an enemy base.
Mat Zin looked closely from under the bushes at a hut right in front of him that apparently happened to be a kitchen. He saw three men; two of them cutting raw plants for food while another was cooking something in a pot; a pot that he quickly realized was one of the pots he used back in his camp. This caused his emotions to stir, for the pot was his favorite pot, a gift from his mother from which she received as a present from the British man he peed on when he was a kid. He suddenly got so angry, one part because the communist cook stole his pot, and another part was because the communist cooking started to smell like real crap over time.
"I cannot let my pot to suffer!"
Mat Zin stood up and walked towards the hut in extreme anger. Seeing this, the three men were about to react, but as soon as they realized that the man who was walking towards them was apparently a higher-in-rank officer based from the insignia on his uniform, they dared not to lift up their heads and to look at him in the face. An opportunity for Mat Zin, he took it pretty wisely: first he banged the two men's heads with a stick he found lying next to the hut, knocking them out, and then he took his pot and threw its boiling content onto the unsuspecting cook's face. The cook screamed at the top of his lungs, causing Mat Zin to run in terror.
A few communist guards saw Mat Zin running with a pot covering his head and started pursuing. The whole base was alerted and by the time he knew it, there were more than a hundred men, all armed, fierce and angry from hunger because there was nobody else to cook and Mat Zin just boiled the head of the only one cook available in the base, pursuing him fast. But Mat Zin ran even faster that they could not get to him, but never did they surrender. All men from the base was then called upon to chase Mat Zin, the kitchen saboteur who at the time was still running with a pot on his head.
From far away, a group of 250 allied infantrymen led by another hundred from Mat Zin's camp were walking towards him in the chase for communists opponents who had earlier destroyed their camp. Hearing him running, the forward observer of the group ordered everyone to hold their heads down, only to soon see a man in complete communist uniform running fast passing them with a pot on his head. This wholly unexplainable and tricky situation had caused the commanding officer to lose his speech, not even being able to give an order to fire upon, whereby everyone else looked at the running man in complete awe. This complete silence went past for a minute until the forward observer felt the shaking grounds from hundreds of feet that followed the running man.
This time the commanding officer, though still surprised from what he had just seen, ordered the men to open fire.
* * *
The day ended with the enemy being defeated with a total of 106 casualties; 93 enemies were shot dead, 5 were killed from extreme fatigue, 5 more were killed as a result from hitting own land mine while escaping from the open allied fire, 1 was found to be fatally injured from a third degree burn on the head from boiling soup at the enemy base, and the last remaining 2 were burnt alive in what appeared to be a burning kitchen hut, clearly a result from stove fire that went out of control in the enemy base while there was no one around to put out the blaze because everyone was busy chasing after Mat Zin, and the two men himself was as the time unconscious after being knocked out by him earlier.
The last of the enemy, who was later found out to be the enemy commander himself, was shot dead at a nearby village border two days after the battle by a local female village security volunteer who mistakenly thought that he was the nudist who went around flashing at young girls in the village a week earlier. The real nudist however was shot the day the battle took place at the other side of the village border by also a a local female village security volunteer who mistakenly thought that he was a communist infantrymen.
Mat Zin received a Victoria Cross from the British army and promoted to a Lieutenant for his bravery and assistance in defeating the largest communist military regiment in the northern peninsular. He later retired a legendary military hero and opened a diner that was famously known to have its mouthwatering delicacy mounting from the floor up to the ceiling and he continued to teach cooking lessons in most of the Commonwealth countries, especially to military cooks, using the same pot that he rescued from the possession of the communists. He died a few years following after he fell into a thirty-feet tall silo full of wheat flour at a local harbor while inspecting the flour quality.
When found, it was reported by a local newspaper that Mat Zin was "literally fairer and whiter than everyone else in the country!"