|Of Hari Raya and family|
|Friday, 03 August 2012 08:33am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
PUTIK LADA BY NORSYAZREEN MOHAMAD SALLEH
Hari Raya is essentially the only time where family members congregate and can finally be a unit. The compulsory balik kampung trips are also focal points where religious, political and moral discourse takes place.
JUST as monumental as Stalin’s transformation of the USSR into an industrial power, the Hari Raya celebrations are an arguably crucial coming-of-age event in the life of a Muslim young adult.
The fasting month teaches us that gluttony is highly frowned upon, and moderation and gratitude are of utmost importance.
However, for some, the fasting month simply means a beautiful myriad of delicacies and sinful pleasure.
They swear by the daily trips to the Bazaar Ramadan and make it a point to cover stalls A to Z over the span of 30 days.
They forget that the fasting month is only the beginning, a “sneak preview” of the food involved come the actual celebrations.
Yes, the truth hurts, we Malaysians love our food.
And yet, we wonder why we were voted the third fattest in the world?
I say we keep calm and embrace the title, for the biggest, smallest, tallest or shortest in anything is still a distinction worth mentioning.
For us who fast, our body systems are suddenly put to the test. It can sometimes feel worse than being hit by a truck.
In the legal fraternity, such a test causes litigators to try their best to vacate court dates, much to their dismay.
For the glib-tongued, what usually functions as a tool of trade will be somewhat subdued, all in the spirit of observing the holy month of Ramadan.
In the final week before Hari Raya, the courts seem serene, an environment that is usually unimaginable. The court staff seem a lot friendlier, and the giddy feeling of Hari Raya being around the corner is highly contagious.
At this point, everyone seems to be walking like soulless but happy zombies with only one thing in mind – home.
Personally speaking, Hari Raya is essentially the only time where family members congregate and can finally be a unit.
We observe the aunt who just welcomed a new son, the oh-so-young cousin who just got married, and the uncle who just got himself a flashy new car.
Home is abuzz with the laughter and shrieks of the growing number of members.
The compulsory balik kampung trips are also focal points where religious, political and moral discourse takes place.
The setting of this discourse is usually the verandah, where the relatives have assembled on the eve of Hari Raya. Once discourse takes place, all hell breaks loose.
The veteran uncle or patriarch of the family will take the lead starting from the recent arguably controversial event that shook the country (read: sit, protest, plastic bottles, a certain colour that starts with the letter Y).
The ladies would have prepared pots of local coffee to be coupled with kuaci (coffee and kuaci are a must in most Johorean households).
Borderline “preaching” will be ignited, especially when a family member starts revisiting their involvement with the said event.
Back in the day, when the kids were younger and more gullible, they would be glued to the stories shared by these uncles.
The funny thing is, in the same household you can find two extreme sides of the coin, or rather, political parties.
Some will try to impress with their knowledge and what they think is the truth. Generally, the younglings would stare in indifference.
In their minds, all they think of is the life they left at home in the city.
However, things are different now. They have grown to become mature working adults with purchasing power.
The older generation can expect binding and highly persuasive responses from their nephews and nieces.
Now, this yearly congregation has become an annual highlight. More often than not, emotions get so tense that it takes the joker of the family to disperse the hostile verbal scuffle.
The joker is the moderator, the mediator, the peacekeeper and everything in between.
If being in such a hostile yet safe environment does not make one feel at home, then I don’t know what will.
Then comes the most coveted, monumental event of all. The morning of Hari Raya. This is where things get tricky. Emotions are rife.
The ladies of the household are abuzz in the kitchen.
One would be reminded of a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as it does get that thunderous with the sound of utensils and the self-appointed head of the culinary team giving directives like Stalin commanding his herd.
The boys would be directed to perform the more laborious tasks, like manning the dodol woks.
Girls are inculcated with the art of weaving the ketupat, with less than desired results. The dining table is now full of dishes up to its edges.
While waiting for the gentlemen to return from the mosque, a certain feeling jolts us. Thinking of the loss of a father, a mother, a grandparent that we never met, an uncle, an aunt, a sister and a brother.
As is the same with any celebration, we try to imagine what it would be like celebrating with them this year.
Family. A six-letter word so deep with meaning that it really is the sole reason why we all exist. Family, far and near, old and young, close-knit and estranged, big and small, lost and found.
Hari Raya and seeking forgiveness are synonymous. It is a must.
So divine up, and seek that forgiveness that we are so stubborn about. We will never know when we may lose another loved one. It is after all Hari Raya, not some civil war that Stalin started.
This article is dedicated to the grandfathers and grandmother I never met. Al-fatihah.
> The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, visit www.malaysianbar.org.my.
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