It’s the 22nd day of fasting, and in less than a week, the mad balik kampung rush will commence for millions; with their baju melayu or baju kurung all set to be worn, kids bouncing up and down the back seat killing both time and the mental stability of the parents; bus and train loads of less fortunate people plying the highways and trunk roads; the richer fly Malaysia Airlines, and the less-fortunate richer people fly Air Asia. Not everybody can fly this Hari Raya as tickets to most destinations have been sold out, so much that I had to cancel my trip to Miri because the only return date I could travel on would be on the second day of Hari Raya.
Of course there will also be those who would return to their hometowns and stay put 2 meters beneath ground level.
Hari Raya, to me, has always been about spending it with loved ones.
My early memories of Hari Raya would probably go back to when I was 4 or 5 years old when we were in Melaka – I remember we had this huge chinese antique urn and it had this plant in it where the Hari Raya cars were hung on display. When I was 8 and/or 9, we would celebrate Hari Raya at our Section 16 house in PJ. It was between the ages of 10 through 17 that we would occasionally return to my mom’s kampung mostly, and my dad’s about twice.
Sadly, I do not remember much about my paternal grandmother. My paternal grandfather passed away when my father was 13 years old. Some friction between my father and my grandmother over the death of his favourite younger brother after whom my younger brother is named, and his subsequent tight schedules due to his job, meant that we siblings spent so little time with our paternal grandmother. However, every year, whether or not we would go back to her place, my grandmother never failed to send me kuih bahulu ikan. Hers is still my favourite, and I have never found any that taste quite like hers. She also made the bantal alas tangan for my elder sister’s wedding as her wedding gift, but passed away two months short of the wedding itself.
I think, Hari Raya was more meaningful to me as a kid, I guess, especially when it was celebrated at my mom’s kampung, with all the cousins. Once married, the meaning of Hari Raya was somewhat different for me. It was about going back to your spouse’s kampung, meeting new sets of people, trying to remember who’s who and what to whom, trying to assimilate and understand the nature of how they celebrate their Hari Raya – I mean, they have been doing it a lifetime, and here you are, trying to grasp the idea. Then, when you have kids, it was about making Hari Raya as fun as possible for them, and you realise that the Hari Raya that you had more than a decade earlier, is the Hari Raya your kids are learning to enjoy. I guess Hari Raya would be more meaningful if the spouse is fun to be with. After my divorce, I spent Hari Raya in 2007 diving in Perhentian.
However, the month of Ramadhan has been meaningful to me this year, simply because I now have a spouse who is also fun to be with. And below has been how we have been spending our Ramadhan:
Helping Wifey with her Kacang Pool Hj Demon
We also had berbuka puasa dates, this one at Baiti’s
And Ramadhan would be almost meaningless without having great friends over for berbuka
And taking the kids out for berbuka
And as I mentioned earlier, Ramadhan and Hari Raya would be meaningless if the spouse isn’t fun to be with. This year, as we did last year, we spent a weekend in Tioman diving with friends:
With Wifey beneath Salang Jetty
I can safely say now that Hari Raya is more meaningful too; and I am looking forward to more happy Haris Raya from now on. And having a spouse who is a best friend helps.