Hari Raya cards hanging on a Christmas tree that mostly said “Season Greetings” than “Selamat Hari Raya”. I was 5 years old. And that was in Bukit Peringgit, Melaka. The year – 1971.
That’s as far as I can recall of my first memories of Hari Raya. As a child, Hari Raya was always being eagerly waited by me, and thousands of other kids in Malaysia (at least). That very year we moved to our house in Section 16, PJ. That neighbourhood was fun; I had neighbours, friends and what-nots. When my father became the IGP in 1974, that was when he first hosted an open house. The food was good, courtesy of his entertainment allowance. We played sparklers, and when I was 9, my baju melayu’s sleeve caught fire, but the guard quickly acted and put the flame out. We moved to our quarters just before Tun Razak died, and from 1976 through 1994 (when my father retired, virtually all haris raya were celebrated there – save for 1984 through 1986, and 1991 (when I first got married).
I also loved the haris raya spent at my maternal grandparents place in Kampung Jeransang, Benta district, in Pahang. It was the only time all of us get to converge and meet each other.
After my divorce in 1996, I lost all passion for Hari Raya. It no longer had any meaning for me. Hari Raya for me would end with the end of the morning prayer. After that I would just head home, eat a bit, and spend the day sleeping. And last year’s was the saddest – I celebrated alone. My elder kids went back to Kedah, while my younger ones celebrated with their mother in Klang. I remember that image of Nisaa entering the room in her baju kurung, walked up to me, salam me, and gave me a good long hug. I just kissed her head with her Maggi hair in my face.
It was a sad day.
I ate leftovers that raya morning, with Ribena. Only friends wished me Hari Raya. None from my family members, none from that person who claimed to love me with all her heart. Not a single wish from her, even as I was making my way to the Perhentian Islands that night.
Never spend Hari Raya alone. And if you have to, make sure your TV set is not tuned to any of the local terrestrial channels that would have the occassional takbir to remind you of how miserable it is to spend hari raya alone.
Never spend hari raya alone…never…ever again.