In search of the Missing Sulu "Eye-Fall" tower (part 1)
Years back when I was still in High school and studying in one of the Madáris (Madrasah: Islamic Schools) in Jolo, Sulu, there was this peculiar masjid nearby. When our morning classes ends at 11 AM, me and my classmates would go to a nearby kadday (small Tausug restaurants), eat our lunch together then hastily come to this masjid called Masjid Shariful Hashim in Jambatan (Sea Port) to pray Zhuhur. The masjid itself is just a simple building that you see in most masjids in Jolo, no intricate designs outside, with metal roofs and wooden domes (and the usual moon-and-star). A set of wooden stairs lead to the second storey reserved for women who wanted to pray in the masjid. What I meant when I said this masjid is “peculiar” or “odd”, is this octagonal room inside the masjid.
At first I thought that room was just a separate room designed by the architect of the masjid, or something like a storage room. But what really made me scratch my head is its location and design: that room was located right at the center of the masjid (giving lesser space for people to pray) and it had a totally different design that the rest of the building. It was as if it’s a different building covered by another building. (Yet amidst all of that curiosity, I was still a shy-guy before, so I never asked anybody about this. Afraid that people would just laugh at me and say “c’mon why do you have to bother about these things, Ahmad!”)
The room had two doorways without doors (yes! No doors). The inner walls are plain, but with some irregular plastering in some places (it’s as if there were windows in this room before, but the people decided to cover it). The walls outside that room (which is still in the masjid) had this staggered brick-like edges that you cannot find in any corner of the masjid. And right at the center of that room is a single yellow, wooden, octagonal post that reaching and even passing through the ceiling. Even though this room was also painted with the same paints as the inner walls of the masjid, its design and its location made it all stand out. But most people did not really bother about it, and so at the end of the day, I decided not to trouble myself about it anymore…
I never knew then, that there will be another set of questions that will lead me to this same room some years later…
Years later, I found this novel by Ms. Criselda Yabes entitled “Below the Crying Mountain”. The novel revolves around the story of my dear homeland (Jolo, Sulu) before and after the devastating war in 1974 that turned Jolo into ashes. That war was among the important turning points in Sulu’s history (and yes, I was not yet bone-and-flesh then) and so this novel was among those “windows” I have been looking for, to allow me to see how Sulu really looked like in 1970s before the war (I am supposed to write about this book in another blogpost). And Alhamdulillah, that novel by Ms. Yabes never failed my expectations (really, I should write about this!).
Among those places mentioned in the novel, was the “Eye-Fall tower”: a pun for one of the lighthouses in Jolo wharf that had been malfunctioning for some years and thus the name (and “Eye-fall tower” wittily just sounds like “Eiffel tower”). I tried remembering if I have seen any “lighthouse” in that wharf when I was little, but I cannot remember anything that resembles the descriptions in the novel. Does it still exist after that devastating war?
And thus begun my search for the missing “Eye-Fall Tower” of Jolo…
==Watch out for the 2nd part of this post: "Sulu Hidden History: The remnants of the Sulu Parula"==
The use of the term “Eye-Fall Tower” was not coined by Anak Iluh (the author of this post) in this blog. It was first mentioned in the novel “Below the crying mountain” by Ms. Criselda Yabes and thus the author reserves the sole ownership of the term. (Don’t get me wrong guys, I know how it feels to get “robbed online” :)