Sunday, October 21, 2007

Raya '07 : 1st Day (Part 2) - Of Family Traditions

After the short visit with the neighbors, we waited for my aunt and her children to rendezvous at our house before we went out to visit my late maternal grandmother’s grave. Being the eldest in her family, my mum’s place has always been the meeting point for my two aunts (I have no uncles on my mother’s side) on Hari Raya morning. This year my Mak Ngah (middle aunt) could not make it as not all her children were around that morning so it was just us and Mak Su (youngest aunt) with her five children. We drove to my late grandmother’s gravesite in Hulu Kelang to pay our respects and to offer our prayers to her. I have already went there a day earlier to clear up the gravesite and surrounding area so this was an extra visit for me personally this year. We also made plans to replace her grave marker next year since it would be the 10th year anniversary of her passing.

After my grandmother’s grave, we had another stop to make at my step mum’s gravesite in Kepong. My father took a second wife when I was about 15 years old and she basically was added to the family as my second mum but not without some amount of drama beforehand. They were married for about 12 years before she died suddenly from heart related complications back in 2000. My dad did not have any children with my second mum so we’re basically were the children who would visit her gravesite on Hari Raya morning. As before, we stopped by to pay our respects and offer our prayers for her before returning home to prepare for lunch with my aunts.

Hari Raya lunch has always been a long-ish affair for the family. With 3 sisters in the family and 5 children of their own for each sister, lunch would almost be always exclusively for my mother’s side of the family. This year we only had Mak Su’s branch of the family for lunch. Mak Ngah did turn up later but with only her eldest daughter and her boyfriend since the rest of my cousins from that branch of the family had to drive down to Melaka to be with their father. We ended up having so call lunch from 2pm up to about 4pm since no one really had any place else to go before then. Some of my father’s friends from his drama productions stopped by as well during the period so in away it became sort of the unofficial open house for the family. I tried to mingle as much as I could be being the eldest among my cousins, I didn’t really had someone my age group to mix around with. I ended up going up to my room after 3pm to take a short nap since I was already tired by that time.

I woke up at about 5 pm to get ready to go to my father’s sister’s place in Sg Besar which is about 2 hours drive from Selayang. Since we did not made plans this year to go back to my father’s kampung in Pontian, we had 2 places that we had to visit from my father’s side of the family which was my uncle in Sunway and my aunt at Sg Besar. Since she was further, we decide to go to her house on the first day and my uncle’s house later in the week. The trip to Sg Besar started good enough for us before it started to rain when we reached Sg Buloh. The sky then proceeded to open up and dumped buckets on us as we traveled slowly to Sg Besar. By the time we reached Tg Karang, we could see some parts of the town was already flooding but we couldn’t really turn back since it was already quite far into the journey. Thankfully we reached my aunt’s house in Sg Besar without any problems even in the heavy downpour.

Most of the family from my father’s side of the family were less well off than we were but that didn’t stop them from piling on the food for us. I’ve always been a bit embarrassed by how much they would go out of their way to accommodate us when we came visiting as if our family have never gone through the same hardship in life that they were going through now. I really do appreciate what they have done for us but I’ve always wished that they didn’t really go thorough all the trouble. My family may have lucked out and came out better then they did but we never forgotten our shared humble beginnings.

Dinner that night was a simple spread of rice with rendang kerang, masak lemak pucuk ubi, ikan kering, ulam and sambal tempoyak. With the exception of the tempoyak, everything else was exactly what I was craving after the day of eating ketupat and rendang. I even had more helping than I should have since it was quite good kampung eating and that my aunt was piling my plate faster than I can decline the next helping. She kept on saying that I’m lost too much weight during the fasting month and would not take no for an answer when she offered me more food. I’m fairly certain that she was trying to make me gain all the weight back in that one sitting. Thankfully for me, everyone eventually stopped eating and cleared all the dishes before having our post meal coffee which was something that my father’s side of the family would never fail to do. My father’s side were all big coffee drinkers and they would always insist on getting home brewed coffee instead of the run of the mill instant coffee. I think they got the habit from my late fraternal grandfather who would always have coffee after his meals.

It was almost 11 pm when we finally said our goodbyes and started our journey back from Sg Besar. Unlike previous years, my youngest brother, who got his driver’s license earlier this year, was driving the car. Me being me, I could not help but be anxious at the way that he was driving especially when it was clear that he had a lead foot when it comes to following the speed limit. There were more than a few occasion that I had to remind him to watch the way he was driving much to his annoyance. I don’t really know why but having a lead foot on the accelerator when driving seems to be a trait that my brothers share with my father. Hopefully I would remember not to be the same when I start driving myself.

We arrived home safely at around 1 am. Fully satiated and tired after the long day, no once really wanted to do much of anything else other than get ready to go to bed. The first day of Hari Raya has been pretty much the same as our previous years namely it being the day that we spend with the family. Most of the time it would be with my mother’s side of the family since they were mostly in KL but sometimes it would be with my father’s side of the family if we traveled down to Johor for the holidays. It was the time for us to renew familial bonds and catch up on each other’s news up to that point. From the time we were kids it has been drummed into us that 1st day of Hari Raya was for family only. Even after we have all grown up, we would not normally have people outside of the family visiting until at least the 2nd day of Hari Raya.

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