Friday, September 18, 2009

Raya and Me

The last 'Raya Di Kampung' I had with Opah (grandma) and Tok Ayah (grandpa), my beloved grandparents, was in 1974. It was the most proper Raya ever and Dungun never felt so peaceful. I said 'proper' because that particular Raya encapsulated all the Rayas in my 20 years of existence then.

Waking up on Raya morning to be greeted by the serene, smiling faces of Opah and Tok Ayah was a delight in itself. Helping Tok Ayah make 'nasi himpit' (rice cube) the time-honoured way (using a wooden block covered with white muslin) the night before, was unforgettable. Nasi himpit was his forte and he did it to perfection, always.

The memory of kissing their hands asking for forgiveness, before adjourning to the dining table for Opah's special Raya dishes, especially her rendang and kuah kacang, remain etched in my mind until today.

Visitors arrived in droves - friends and acquaintances, neighbours, childhood friends and former schoolmates - keeping me on my toes until late evening. Never mind that I was pooped by dinnertime; I was just thrilled to see them all, people I had known all my young life.

That year 1974 marked the last year of my singlehood. Free as a bird then, I was under no obligation to 'divide' Raya. There was no husband to answer to and no in-laws to please. Life was without knots and twists.

I was then a year into my job as a reporter with the afternoon daily, Malay Mail. I had shunned university for the job, much to the disappointment of my grandparents who had wanted me to finish my studies 'properly'.

Unfortunately, Opah passed on without ever knowing that I did return to school (in 1981), graduating three years later (with a husband and three little tykes in tow).

And so there I was, at the tail-end of Ramadan in 1974, joining the 'balik kampung' (returning to hometown/village) exodus, heading towards tranquil Dungun to be with the loving grandparents who had raised me from birth. Little did I realise that Raya was the last ever that I would spend with them both.

Subsequent Rayas were spent all over the place but Dungun. In fact, the first Raya I celebrated as a wife was in London, where we lived for a while. With the exception of London, throughout my marriage, every first day of Raya would invariably be with the in-laws.

I got to see Opah and Tok Ayah only a week or two into Syawal. Deep down it must have hurt them somewhat, but they never said a word. In fact grandma would only utter "suami didahulukan" (the husband comes first). Unsatisfactory as the arrangement was, spineless me meekly acquiesced.

When the marriage unraveled in the 13th year, Raya was no longer a day I looked forward to. Grandma was but two simple tombstones under a frangipani tree facing the South China Sea in good old Dungun.

Grandpa was ailing fast and living in Kota Baru with my teacher uncle whose kindly wife Cek Su was the most devoted daughter-in-law I had ever come across in my entire life. God bless this absolute gem of a woman who is just a few years older than I am.

The way she took care of her husband's father, by then bedridden and almost completely senile, put me to shame. I never had the opportunity to 'jaga' (care for) my grandpa, for he was adamant about living out his last days in Kelantan.

All through my 14 years of being an 'ibu tunggal' (single mother), Raya was celebrated in Kuala Lumpur to enable the children to be with their father and his family, especially the kids' 'Tok' (paternal grandma). History repeated itself with my own mother; we only got to spend Raya with her a week or two into Syawal.

Because of all the domestic upheavals, Raya had long ago lost its shine on me. I can't remember the last time I was excited about Raya. In fact, I became robotic with each Raya.

It was just another day, the day you didn't fast anymore after Ramadan. I had never bothered much with new clothes and such. As long as the family was happy and satisfied, I was fine.

This is my eighth Raya with Pak Abu. My take on Raya hasn't changed much; the only saving grace is my husband and children. Because they are precious to me, I think I shall make extra efforts to revitalise my feelings towards Raya.

But it feels like championing a lost cause or trying to recapture one's lost youth. Is it still possible? How do you regain a love long gone?


Pp said...

salam puteri Kama...

:-) May this Raya be filled with joy and radiance for you and your family. I too am adjusting to this transition from balik kampung to meet old folks, to being the old folks to my children and their cousins and friends. I guess, i too am losing the melancholic romanticism of Raya...and having to get used to being tough and unemotional on Raya days abroad, we do not even pasang Raya songs yang mendayu2 itu...

I wish I am in Malaysia, and surely would make an effort to visit you and pak abu...makan ketupat dan lemang bersama.
Errr, puteri buat ketupat ka?

Salam Edilfitri dari Middle East.

YANG GAMBI said...


Selamat Hari Raya ‘Idil Fitri, maaf zahir batin.

Kama said...

Pp - indeed we are the old folks now and it's to our house they troop each raya. I have long resigned to the fact that TTDI is our kampung. Dungun has no one anymore, except the pusara. Kalau balik Malaysia do call, I dont know how to make ketupat, but i cook a mean nasi minyak and ayam kuzi.. :)

Kama said...

Salam YG, Eid Mubarak maaf zahir dan batin kepada YG sekeluarga, semoga Allah swt memberkati kehidupan kita.

Pi Bani said...

Wishing you and your family Selamat Hari Raya. Hari ni dok bloghop to tinggalkan raya wishes... tomorrow I'll be busy cooking.

Ever since my father passed away, I balik Ipoh to stay with my mother. So kira from that year I tak perlu dah balik kampung because I stay in the kampung where I was brought up since I was 6 years old.

_deli said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

Terkedu sat membaca posting kali ini. Sedih tapi penuh pengharapan. Goes to show yang kasih seorang ibu memang tiada tandingan, berpanjangan dan berkekalan.

Asalkan orang lain (terutama sekali anak-anak) bahagia, si ibu akan sentiasa turut senang. Anugerah tuhan sejadinya seorang ibu begitu.

Menghampirnya Syawal, dibaitkan berikut buat Kak Puteri:

Berlagu indah hujan senja,
...Murni permai pelangi terhampar;
Berlalu sudah Ramadhan yang mulia,
...Suchi Syawal kini menyinar.

Seluhur mentari menerang angkasa,
...Jauhari fitrah maya persada;
Dihulur jemari maaf dipinta,
...Termetri ukhwah antara kita.

Selamat berpuasa enam.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Hi Puteri,

U must agree that this ups & downs in life must had made u a better person today. The main thing is that we should look forward to each new day with faith & hope & generally ‘be happy’ that we r contributing to make this world a better place for those around us. Life goes on!

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to u & the family & thanks for putting up with me. Darn saying ‘sorry’ seems to be the hardest word for me, don’t know why….heheh. Hmm probably ever since after watching ‘Love Story’; “Love means never having to say u r sorry”…..kakaka.


MrsNordin said...

Selamat Hari Raya, K. Puteri.

This posting conveys the same feeling I had last year about raya (which I wrote in my blog). But whatever the situation is, we just have to try and make the best of it.

So many people to please but ourselves, huh? That's nothing new.

You take care now and have a good one! Mmmm... the nasi minyak and ayam kuzi sound yummy!

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Puteri,
Wish we could be there with you and Pak Abu. Anyway, here's wishing many many many happy returns of the day. As my Mama would say, Raya kat mana pun sama's the company that counts. Yeah, she's passed the red eye phase when it comes to celebrating Eid overseas. Life's like that, eh? Phew...thank God we're just cats. Come have Eid with us next time, how about that? We'll make it a kitty jolly one for you. purrr purrr purrr

Love always,
Angelina & Brad

AuntieYan @ Makcik Blogger said...

Salam Kak Puteri,

Selamat Hari Raya to you & family.

─╣aptop™ said...

Koi donut coqkeria,
Rasa nak sama nama lain lain,
Selamat Hari Raya,
Minal Aidil Wal-Faizin.

Make ikke cicoh budu,
Jange lupo tamboh satar,
Kelik rayo taksir laju,
Nanti rayo dale sepita.

Oldstock said...

Kak Kama,

Perhaps the merriment of raya for you would be regained when your own children have families of their own, i.e. when you become an Opah yourself. At that time, you would surely look forward to see the faces of your grandchildren during raya.

Mudah-mudahan dipanjangkan umur.

Salam aidilfitri kepada Kak Kama dan Pak Abu sekeluarga. Maaf zahir batin.

pakmat said...

..salam raya..pardon me, lady...for no, raya has not lost its is still the same magical raya that we had as kids..we changed, that's all...maybe we should pause a lil..take in its vibes..and let the atmosphere up the doors, so to speak..

lizaimen's blog said...

Aunty Kama, Selamat Hari Raya and maaf zahir and batin...thanks to blogs like this I'm giving mom and grandma extra hugs and kisses....and it's definitely a reminder to appreciate everything that they've done for me...

Rose & Family said...

Dear Kak Kama,
Pah and TokAyah mungkin dah lama meninggalkan kita.Mak (WanSu),Abah (Ayakcik Zaini), Bapak & Cik pun dah tak ada. But the love yang mereka curahkan pada kita, the memories we shared together will live forever in our heart.Raya may have lost some of its sparkle without them, i know, but we still have anak-anak kita, keluarga kita and that should bring back some of the cheer.Selamat Hari Raya, Kak Kama and Abang Mizi, mohon maaf atas segala salah dan silap.

Naz said...

Salam Kak Puteri,
I don't need to tell you what I'm doing right now ... reading this and blasting that *horrible* song from my blog over and over again.
My heart bleeds and I wish I could give you a hug right now.
Selamat Hari Raya, Kak Puteri.

Kak Teh said...

Puteri, selamat hari raya to you, Pak Abu and the children. Reading your piece I am trying to recall the last raya I had with my parents..and it must be 1974 because my father died soon after.
Thank you for taking us down memory lane of Raya and you.

Have a good one! and I thank the internet and the blog for reuniting us.

Kama said...

Pi - you are a good daughter, balik kampung to stay with mum to jaga her upon yr dad's demise.

Deli - Like they say, a mother's love knows no bounds. Eid Mubarak to you too, dear.

Tommy - Fret not, Tommy. Your presence is like a ray of sunshine; it makes readers feel happy. Have a good holiday..

MrsN - Macam tulah jadi wife & mother, kan? Selamat menyambut raya, harap maaf jika ada terkasar bahasa sepanjang berblog nih.

Cat - you are so right. we are happiest with the ones we love, no matter where we are.

Yan - selamat hariraya aidilfitri to you too, yan. have a good one..

Lap - oh berseloka pulak...
sakit perut makan julap
telan dengan ayaq kelapa
hariraya iungat kat lap
entah bila la buleh berjumpa

Oldstock - I think you got it spot on. Must remind the kids to cepat2

Pakmat - a very keen observation you hv there pakmat. I couldnt agree with you more. I think I need a pradigm shift myself.. hehehe

Liza - where would we be without them, kan? selamat hariraya maaf zahir & batin to you.

Rose - indeed. we are all that's left. the elders are all gone. eid mubarak to you too.

Naz - jauh dimata tapi dekat di hati. 'hugs'

Kak Teh - it has been a blessed year, and meeting you after almost 3 decades topped it all. selamat hariraya maaf zahir batin kak teh!

Al-Manar said...

A beautifully written thought provoking piece of entry that is. But do not despair. We all, I think, have our regrets in life. However, at my age, and you will be there one day insyaAllah, we look forwards to our children and grandchildren coming home to wreck our peace and serenity. Yang lepas tinggal kenangan, biar sekalipun pahit. Itu lah erti hidup.

NanaDJ said...

Salam Puteri,
Selamat Hari Raya to you, Pak Abu and children. Like you I am celebrating Raya here, my mum is living in Sri Damansara so I don't have to balik kampung any more.

Hope to meet you and Pak Abu again. We are practically neighbours.

Kama said...

Al-Manar - I do believe nothing would give me as much pleasure as having grandkids wrecking our peace & quiet, Pakcik. Indeed, let bygones be bygones..

NanaDJ - Yes we are practically neighbours. What a pleasant thought :) One of these days sure punya run into you kat One Utama, my ultimate playground.. hehehe..

Pak Zawi said...

Our lives are enriched by what we experienced. You have a very rich life.
Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir batin.

Kama said...

.. and you have been most kind, Pak Zawi. Selamat Idulfitri kepada Pak Zawi sekeluarga. Insyaallah, kalau panjang umur, kita akan bertemu soon enough..

Rocky's Bru said...

Selamat Hari Raya ma'am, Maaf zahir batin.

Kama said...

eid mubarak to you too, dear rocky & co. MM is now in good hands, I am so very glad for it.