Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ramadan - time to bond with family

Those who have some kampong roots should be fortunate, especially when you are living in an interesting full-of-colour country like Malaysia. 

Time flies so fast. Tomorrow, it will be the 13th day of fasting. I think, without realizing, in just a blink of eyes - everyone will be excited to celebrate Hari Raya.

It is a family tradition of us, to observe Ramadan closely with one another, inclusive to our extending family members. I can remember clearly how exciting for us when fasting month arrived each year. Despite having to 'suffer' during the day, it was the support received from each family member that helped us to go through the experience in a unique manner.

My mom encouraged all of us to start helping her in the kitchen, making cookies and cakes for Hari Raya. I remember back then, because we could not afford a good food mixer, the initial mixing of butter and sugar was always done by my dad. He had the strength to do all the tough beating (He was an engineer, by profession). My 4 siblings and I learnt all the family recipes during Ramadan - from cookies to the complicated local dishes. By teen years - my mom had literally retired from kitchen. 

My parents started to bring us for Hari Raya shopping only when we reached the age of 10 or 11 years old. Prior to that, we were all purely styled by them. I remember my mom and dad would have a pen and measurement tape, made us queue on one weekend. The most exciting fitting session would be when we had to put our feet on a piece of paper. Then my dad would draw our little feet on that paper. We were all spared from the sun and crowd. Before we head for balik kampung all of us would have our new clothes and shoes in our own bags. 

I supposed the most exciting part of Ramadan and Syawal would be the journey back to kampung. There was no highway - so the total journey from Kuala Lumpur back would be no less than 9 hours drive. We were all groomed to be very talkative and active children. The 9 hour journey must have been a torture for both my parents. Every year, my dad would repeat the same game while on our way back to kampung - the silence game. Who ever can keep quite for the longest would win. The grand prize was a handsome cash reward waiting in the duit raya packet. Come to think of it now, I think none of us could last more than 15 minutes. It was always a chaos in the car. We still drive back to kampung nowadays - but in separate cars. Obviously all 7 of us cannot fit the family car we have now. 

Last year, my parents were away in Nigeria. I tried to keep the spirit among my siblings during fasting month and when we were heading back to my parents' hometown for Hari Raya. It was not the same, but thanks to telecommunication technology - we could immediately connect with them via phone or internet. Every day during the fasting month, we would ring our parents just to say hello. Even while driving the balik kampung journey - we kept the line open. Although physically my parents were not with us - we certainly enjoyed having their virtual presence with us.

PS. Ramadan is the time for family to be closer to each other. It is the time to learn about one another, and by the time Syawal is here, everyone should feel happy and blessed just because 'we are family'.

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