PASIR MAS: On the first day of Chinese New Year, hundreds of people will make a beeline to one house among 200 Chinese families living in Kampung Pasir Parit, Chetok, here to visit a local man known for his skill in Kelantan traditional arts.
Eyo Hock Seng is the only Kelantan Chinese who is a wayang kulit (shadow play) master ranked at par with his Malay peers after 30 years of dedication to the art.
Eyo, who is known locally as Pok Chu, 56, speaks the Kelantanese dialect fluently as well as the local version of Hokkien.
He prepares local delicacies like nasi gulai ayam, nasi kerabu and ulam for his guests during his Chinese New Year open house.
“Every year I give out at least 50 boxes of mandarin oranges and almost all the food served is halal.
“As far as I can remember, we have always served local Malay cuisine during Chinese New Year,” said the father of seven.
The interview was conducted at a makeshift stage in front of his house, tucked in a remote section of the kampung where he conducts his wayang kulit shows.
Pok Chu said he is considered strange by his Chinese friends living on the West Coast.
“I studied in a Malay school, mixed with Malay friends and ate Malay food.
“I may look like a Chinese but when I open my mouth to speak Malay, many would do a double take.
“I don’t even know how to use chopsticks,” said Pok Chu, who is a fourth-generation Kelantanese.
Pok Chu added that his whole family speaks Malay at home and only speak their mother tongue on rare occasions.
“I even speak Malay with my wife,” he said.
He makes a living through his small grocery store and by performing wayang kulit shows with his band of seven Malay musicians.