Selamat Menyambut Hari Raya dan Ulangtahun Kemerdekaan ke-54
“Kini tiba masanya
Hati gembira di Hari Raya
Bertemu sanak dan saudara
Bermaaf-maafan dengan keikhlasan”
–Suara Takbir by Tan Sri P Ramlee
It’s that time of the year again for all Muslims worldwide, soon celebrating that day in their very own way. For the inhabitants of the Nusantara it’s the exodus back to their respective hometown, celebrating it with parents and kinsfolk that makes what Hari Raya Aidil Fitri is. For kids, it is that time of the year they get to be with cousins at their grandparents. For as far back as I can remember, that for me, would be in the early 1970s.
I can still remember the crisp cool morning air as we cousins wake up’ the younger cousins might not remember the old well by the side of the house. When they were old enough to remember anything, water was pumped from the well using the electric motor. Anyway, us cousins would queue outside the well a la P Ramlee. then get dressed in our Hari Raya best before walking to the village mosque for the Aidil Fitri prayers.
My late grandparents’ house, now being rented out
We would have returned to my grandparents’ a few days earlier. The ladies would have slogged it out in the kitchen area making rendang, curry and so on while the men would have made lemang, ketupat, dodol. At around 6.30pm, just before berbuka (those days Peninsula Malaysia was 1/2 hour behind the current time), we would light up the pelitas, then take our place on the floor with the other cousins, while the grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts would occupy the two dining tables. After the final berbuka, we cousins would be with our sparklers and firecrackers ’til late.
The last time we all went back for Hari Raya as a family to my grandparents’ was back late January 1998. When I left their house for KL with my brother the day after, it never occurred to me that it would be our last Hari Raya with them, and that was also the last time I spoke to my grandfather when he was still alive. Unbeknownst to us, he was already suffering from cerebral haemorrhage from an accident a month earlier. He would slip into a coma some two weeks later and never recovered.
My grandmother passed away exactly six months later.
My uncle lived in that house with my cousins until he, too, passed away from an accident four years later. The house has been rented out since. My cousins, siblings and I still yearn to go back to a kampung we could call ours, where we could enjoy that crisp morning air, enjoy making rendang, dodol, ketupat, lemang, kuih together – and this time see our children play sparklers together.
My paternal grandfather passed away in 1952, while my paternal grandmother passed away in May 1983.
For those of you who still have a kampung to return to, do so. And do so safely so that you could return to your kampung year in year out.
As for me, I can only share my wife’s kampung and envy her.
SELAMAT HARI RAYA DAN SELAMAT MENGHAYATI ULANGTAHUN KEMERDEKAAN KITA YANG KE-54
My late grandparents in Bangkok (1994)