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Maria-Syamsi

From My Heart

Month

September 2009

The Durian Matter

My uncles and aunts were discussing about the durian trees that decided to bear numerous, bountiful fruits this year. How do we finish ALL those durians and I’m telling you, it’s A LOT! Really.
Thence came out this issue. The durian issue.

According to my uncle Wak Halim, durian is a fruit which, surrounding it, there’s so much controversy. So much fuss and stories behind it’s consumption. Family issues mainly. No wonder it’s called the king of fruits.

We were counting the kariah people, our relatives (close and distant), our friends. No, even these people can’t finish that much durian. Then there’s the issue of selling the fruit. My grandpa planted all those trees so that his ‘anak cucu’ (children and grandchildren) could enjoy the fruit. Not for sale, unless someone comes and offers to buy them. He did sell some of the fruits but not by loading a lorry full of them and selling in the market.

Many of us who’re experienced planting, taking care of, or living in between the durian trees know that the trees themselves are quite fussy. If you pluck an unripe fruit, it won’t bear fruit at least for another year or two. A change of weather would change its pattern of fruit-bearing altogether. Any family events, fights over land etc etc may or may not influence its produce. And if you sell those durians that were initially not meant to be sold, maybe you won’t get to taste the fruit next year. Or it may not be as good. Hence my concern on selling the fruits. “Takut merajuk durian tu nanti.”

And that’s why I won’t tell you how much durians my uncle counted on the trees in Ramadhan. I’m scared it’s jinxed.

Anyway, the issues?

1. If we invite our relatives to eat, and out of their own rezeki/luck, they might get the less tasty ones. Or not ripe enough. Some might lash out a comment like this, “Yeah, they are saving the good ones for sale. They’d only give us the non-tasty durians.”

2. Sometimes our relatives only visit us once a year, or some rarely. For us it’s ok. We all have our own things to do, our own excuses. However when we invite them for a durian treat, some might not want to come because, “Oh no, we never visited their places, but we’re all so eager to come when they invite us for durians. As if we’re so desperate for their fruits. This is embarassing. I’m not coming.”

3. Some people who have more than a farm of durians back in their kampung sometimes DO say, “Yeah, so and so and so relative of mine only shows up when the fruits are ripe. When I was huffing and puffing in the farm, cleaning the yard and taking care of the land, nobody ever bothered.”

4. And many friends would ask, “Hey, I heard you have a durian farm. When are you inviting us for a treat?” We’d say, “Come this weekend. It’s dropping like the rain.” But they NEVER show up!! Why? Because my farm is, for them, soooo far away from their homes. Do I have to pack the durians and bring the fruits to them? My uncle said, “dahla kita punya durian, kita tolong kutip, bukak lagi, masuk dalam bekas, bawa hidang depan mata dia.” (It’s our durian, we picked them up, opened it, put it in containers and drive these durians, serve them under their nose?). Excuse me, if you really love the durians so much, and you are, indeed, my friend, why can’t you just drive up to my farm? Seriously..and you know what, 3 years ago a group of people asked me the same thing and nobody bloody came (with a long list of excuses), except for one. And I waited the whole night. So I never asked them to come anymore. Go buy your own RM10 per kg bloody durian for all you want. Haha.

5. This one huuuuge issue. When we invite someone, we’d invite batch by batch. Some people can handle many people at a time. But we, as a family, know what bonding is about and would like to spend time with you, not only to serve the durians without meeting each of you. The same thing as raya open house.
Anyway, we’re very sorry if somehow your turn comes towards the end of the durian season. Sometimes that’s the only time we could invite you. But nooo, some families won’t forgive us for inviting them on the eleventh hour. They think they’re the most important family to be invited. They don’t appreciate taking the last few fruits home (after having a feast). And they don’t appreciate eating out in the open air in the gazebo. They want to be in the house on the sofa with the aircond on (sorry there’s no aircond in our living room). And they want a full meal before feasting on the durians.
Oh, and they bring out the issue over and over and over again.

Annoying isn’t it?

I didn’t mean to brag that we have what the world wants. I’m just saying that, if people invite you for a durian, come with an open mind, open heart, positive thinking and a friendly smile. We sincerely, honestly, from the bottom of our hearts, want to share the joy of durians with you.

We don’t have control over the taste and size of the fruit. We don’t plan to sell unless it’s going to be wasted. It’s your luck whether you’d get the nice one or not. But rest assured we’re not going to serve the rotten ones.

Of, no, I’m not going to bring the durians for you anymore. If you really really want it, you have to come and get it. And my house is not that far.

* * *

I told Wak Halim, this is just like the story from Luqman al-Hakim, where a father and son had to take a donkey across the town to the market. When the son rides the donkey, people say the son doesn’t respect the father.
But when the father rides the donkey, they say pity the young boy he has to walk when the father gets a ride.
When they both don’t ride the donkey, people say they’re stupid because “what else is the donkey for than to ride it?”
And when they BOTH ride the donkey, they say pity the donkey having to take both of them for a ride.

Ah, well…..we’re never going to be able to make everyone happy, are we?

Ghareeb

Travelling alone to and from work made my mind wander. Sitting alone making ketupat made me think, or dream. All sorts of things.
I have a lot to write about. In fact I have written them up in my blog. But it’s not time to put them up yet. They are about my Eid visits. About the inspiration from the elderly people in my life. About reminiscing our youthful memories. About grandma. And grandpa too.
Also about a cow.

Today I want to just ramble on. Just about anything. Anything at all.

I’ve just realised that I still cook as if my grandpa is around to eat them. I’ll make sure the carrots and the baby corns are soft enough for an adentulous elderly man (meaning no teeth). Yes, up to now.

Many a time one would look for someone with the same facial features and appearance as a partner. I’ve seen many couples who look alike, and they’re very happy together.

We all love nice packages. Travel. Perfumes. Wedding. The person we want to marry.

Usually after festive seasons the ward would be cool for a few days. But it didn’t happen this time around. Yesterday was still a public holiday but the ward had FOUR admissions over 24hrs (that’s a lot for our standard) and they all came needing loads of counselling.

Grandma’s hot-tempered when she was raising her first FIVE boys. Grandpa’s very cool and patient.
At times I’m hot-tempered too so shall I look for a very cool and patient hubby like grandpa?
Well, I do hope (and pray) that I am meant for someone like that, so I could cool down a little.
Anyway, who wouldn’t be short-tempered when she’s trying to raise five boys?

I love nice voices. And I only got to know that recently.

They are all fair and handsome and pretty and nice. And have nice sharp noses although they don’t look like an Arab/Pakistani. Maybe there are people who are threatened by my aunts and uncles and grandparents and grandaunts and granduncles and cousins and second cousins. Maybe that’s why they said all sorts of things about my family.

One of my granduncles could still differentiate between my dad and my many uncles, when younger people than him don’t. He could also tell which one has not come to his house for Eid, and for how long! He’s a sharp man. And healthy too. He must be at least 70 now.

Tun Dr Mahathir is a smart man, unlike most politicians. Maybe he’s manipulative, maybe he’s cunning, but he’s very smart and I’m sure his IQ is like, emm, hundreds. And he looks younger than his age too. I like that photo of his in a pink baju melayu. And I love it when they photograph him with Tun Siti Hasmah. Such a romantic elderly couple!

This Eid I think most of my family members choose white, pastel colours or green.

I miss Zafri that cutie pie. Can’t wait to see him on Saturday. And I feel happy for Cik Mah and her family because they’re going to meet Zafri for the first time. They’re going to love him!

It’s funny the way some parents, for not much of a valid reason, think that no woman is ever going to be good enough for their son. Whoever the son bring home, there’s just some fault that they can’t accept. Well, dear mothers, don’t you remember that you were once that lady too? That lady who hoped that she’s accepted by the beloved husband’s family? And are you not confident with your son’s choice? You raised him, remember? Why would you think you son won’t come back to you?

I wonder why are most men out there sooooo insecure? And some of them don’t even have a reason to feel that way!

I think I will fall for the same kind of guy all over again. Some weird book-ish hardworking smiley-face who has a sharp nose. There’s something about the nose. Haha.

For me Bahasa Indonesia is a beautiful language, especially when it’s spoken by a sweet girl. It sounds softer than Malay, more artistic, soulful and romantic.

I love peace and quiet.

Humble Existence

Talking to elderly people actually changes your perspectives.

Eid is the best time for visiting family members. I’ve always loved following my parents to my granduncle/aunties houses – they are always the source of my inspiration, I could always trace back why I behave this way and that, and where I came from.

The most pronounced revelation that I get everytime is about being humble and going on a simple life.

Many of us are concerned about what we wear, how we look, what car we drive, what kind of phone we have. Sometimes they’re of practical issues, but many a time they’re part of vanity. I’m not trying to be preachy, I do this all the time too. But this serves as a reminder for myself.

Our grandparents have lived long enough to experience so much in their lives. There were so much hardship in the past, they have gone through much more that we may ever dream of today. They have led  a humble life, and here they are now, sitting in a comfortable house big enough to contain all ten children (and their families) without much qualms. Large TVs, air-conditioned rooms – bought and used by the children and the grandchildren.

I saw my grandaunt peek at the TV. She didn’t watch it. She just looked at it for a few seconds. It doesn’t seem like she even saw what’s on it. The TV doesn’t matter. It never does.

Makes you wonder, what actually does matter. What counts.

Health is, and always will be, number one. With hypertension, diabetes, gout, stroke, alzheimer’s, heart disease, arthritis – all these will hamper the life of an elderly person and take away their lives a little bit every day. Health is one of the first topics that would come out of their mouths (and it’s not because you’re a doctor, not at all). How they can’t sleep at night because they feel that it’s too hot. How they can’t climb the stairs. How the neighbour coughed throughout the night and she could hear it too. How he couldn’t get to the bathroom fast enough. How breathless they would feel, at times.

Then children. This son is now working here and this daughter is married to that man and this grandson has just got into medical school and this son is now a lawyer. More importantly, this daughter paid for the nice maid who’s been taking care of her well. Or this son would visit him every two days and bring him wherever he needs to go. Or this daughter who’d cook for her when she can’t. Or this grandson who’d make sure he takes his medications everyday. Or the children who’d paint their houses before Eid and prepared all the meals and cakes and biscuits too.

And nothing else matters.

Makes us wonder, isn’t it? When we were kids we used to fight with our siblings. When we look back we’d think, “Hey, it was such a small matter, why did we even fight about that!” And now there are so many other things that we’d fight over, we fuss over. Maybe it would be useful to think how are we going to see this later on in our lives.

Is it really significant?

Is it that important?

Does it matter?

Lembu Gedhi, Ayuuuu Banget

Parental guidance may be necessary. This story was told by my dear waks (uncles) – Idris and Mohlis.

When my father was 3, my grandmother had a cow. It is huuuge (gedhi is huge in Javanese), and it’s beautiful with it’s nice round shape and white skin (ayu is charming in Javanese).

My uncles (Wak Idris and Wak Mohlis) were the ones who had to care for this ‘pretty lady’. They needed to look for the right kind of grass for her to feast on. Wrong grass – she’d be hungry. At times they’d walk up to two miles just to get her favourite food. Well, a boy’s got to do what a boy’s got to do.

She was, what we’d describe, one hot stuff. Really. “She’s wanted by so many,” my uncles described.

One night, my uncles were, well, having a rest at home. Then they heard a stampede. They ignored the stampede, they thought it would be dangerous to intervene.

The next morning….they said, “We found that the whole lawn was all muddy.”

What happened to the cow, one might wonder…

According to my uncles, the cow never got pregnant. She just didn’t reproduce. They finally had to sell the cow, and for a good price, that is. Wak Idris and Wak Mohlis even managed to buy a bicycle each from the money.

Pushing Factors, and Thank You Very Much

I started writing blogs when I was in medical school, when I was back here in Penang, I think. Or during the last year I was in Dublin. Surprisingly I can’t remember when. And even why.

(OK, now I’ve checked my previous blog site – I started writing when I was in Penang, August 2005. I wrote about my clinic follow up with Dato’ Razak, I wrote about my grandmother’s death too. But I still can’t recall why I decided to start writing at the first place)

I restarted writing just only recently. Actually I always have something to write about. So much that it fills my mind and it would play on and on and on until I do something about it. For the past two years I’ve wrote only on a few topics, even then I had to be very careful with my words. I can’t simply write whatever I wanted.

However a few months ago something happened, and I decided to write again. The motivation? I have mentioned before that I wanted to get back at some people, in the most subtle way that I could think of. But then again, when I read those notes back, I realised that even without all these things happening, without having seen so much before my eyes, my opinion about certain matter would be just the same – it’s just more enhanced now.

Those are what I wrote about initially, I mean, when I restarted writing. About raising kids, about being over-protective, about my feeling sad and angry and how do I handle things in different ways.

Then I noticed there were good response to what I wrote. Maybe it did appear sarcastic, maybe it did not, but thing is, I said it right from the bottom of my heart. I got that lesson for writing from Enid Blyton’s famous St Clare’s series. One of the characters in the book said that when you write, you should write from the bottom of your heart. A pure, honest, sincere product of your soul.

Still, I had so much to write about but no time to do it. I put off doing things. I thought I wouldn’t be able to properly sit down and feel and write. Until one day.

I met someone…maybe I should stop right there. I read his blogs. The contents – some of them did not interest me much. Some of them do. But what strikes me is the style of his blogs – he’s deeply involved in whatever he was doing at that point of time, his emotions poured onto every single letter of his words, you could feel him running like a little boy with a kite when he’s excited, red with anger when he’s mad, his face bright and shining when he smiles at his friends and family, his sweet passionate voice when he sings, and most importantly, his love for all those around him. His personality shines through the written words.

Another striking feature is the way he’d wake up in the middle of the night, all groggy and sleepy, just to write about the happy and excited conversation he had with his friend two minutes ago.

And I’m saying I have no time? Talk about passion, well, this is passion. You do what you need to do when you need to do it.

So I write. I write and write and write. I know I don’t have such great vocab like my brother does. I don’t lash out anger and passion all at the same time like my cousin does. I just write. Whatever’s in my mind, or heart, most of the time.

This month itself I’ve written 10 notes in Facebook!! Haha…

Another obvious thing in his blog is the way he appreciates his followers, took the effort to thank each and everyone of them for commenting on his blogs, sent them postcards, met up with them when he’s back home…really, really full of love.

Well, I know I’m almost a total opposite of this person. I do appreciate very much that you have all been reading my ramblings which at times could sound a bit depressing, or even worse, preachy. I do love the fact that it’s more interactive in Facebook – at least some of those who read would comment in there. Some would meet up with me and ask, “what is it actually about?” My dad was so happy that this Eid he showed them off to all his brothers and sisters. He even sent some of those to his friends.

My dear friends and family members,

I do, from the bottom of my heart, love you for listening to me. It meant so much to me, gave me the motivation to keep on writing. I feel appreciated and welcomed. Thank you very much, whoever and wherever you are. Maybe I do not say it out loud that often, but do remember this whenever you read my ramblings – I love you for doing just that.

Thank you. Again.

Eid Mubarak – Something Special For All of You

SONY DSCSadly Ramadhan has come towards its end. We have another few hours.
Shall I say that it’s a bittersweet celebration with happiness that we have, hopefully, successfully reached the end, and sad with the fact that this holy, peaceful, meaningful month has ended?
Whatever improvements that we have made in our lives, we’d hope that it’s continuous.
Whatever challenges that Ramadhan has presented to all of us, we’d hope that it would make us a better person, a better Muslim in the future.
Whatever lessons learnt in this month, we’d hope that we would remember them as long as we live.
And most importantly, we’d hope that Allah have accepted our gift to Him, as a sign of gratefulness, for all that we have in this world – and no matter what you think you’re lacking of, He’s given a lot.

I know some of us feel that we don’t deserve to celebrate Eid this year.
Some feel that it’s not worth the festivities.
Some too depressed to even think about eating our usual ketupat, lontong, lemang, rendang, kuah kacang, kurma ayam and kuih raya this time around.
Some just wanted to wear jeans and t-shirt and visit the cinemas this year, because it’s just not worth it.

But what I can say, no matter what you think, it’s still worth it.
Hey, at least you’ve fasted through all the flu, tooth ache, headaches, diarrhoea…
At least you’ve fasted through the traffic jams and heavy work load.
At least the money you’ve, hopefully, rightfully earned, you’re spending for your mum to buy rice, meat, onions and garlic and so on and so forth, for her to feel that it’s still worth spending Eid with you.
At least, we all still have each other. And we will always do.

To whoever’s working this raya, and those who have worked hard throughout the month, and I know it’s been a hard time for many of us (what with the jonah-ness of our calls), I hope that all of our sacrifices and keikhlasan will be well paid. And all of you deserve every single joy that Eid could bring.

So my dear friends and family members,
Selamat Hari Raya. Eid Mubarak.
I wish you all the joy and happiness.
I’m sorry for whatever wrong I’ve done, words that I’ve used, I may have hurt someone.
I’m sorry for all the problems I may have caused, and all the worries too.
And I can’t thank you enough for being such strong support for me through times like this. I hope, and I pray, that Allah will pay you with something great, that you might never get from me, or any human beings.
And thank you for your support towards my family too.

All my love,
Maria/Maya/Kakak
______________________________________________
To whom it may concern, Sanisah Huri’s Bersabarlah Sayang:

Semua insan sedang gembira
Di hari ini sayang
Hari yang mulia
Marilah bersama berhari raya
Hilangkan duka

Lupakan saja kisah yang lalu
Gantikan cerita baru
Agar hatimu waspada selalu
Jangan kau kesalkan
Jangan engkau tangiskan

Pada mereka yang tak mengerti
Menuduh dirimu
Di jurang kesalahan saja
Ku tak sampai hati
Biarkan engkau sendiri

Tetapi diriku dan juga temanmu
Yang tahu kisah derita
Dan luka di dada, hanya kuharapkan
Kau harus bersabar
Dan bertenang selalu

Ramadhan Confessions

What are the most challenging issues along this month that you’ve faced?
On a scale of one to ten, with zero being no stress at all, ten being the most stressful that you want to jump out of the building, and five is somewhere in between, please rate you stress level.

Hmm…
1. Heavy traffic
Stress score 8
AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!!! Out of all the ‘trials’ that I’ve faced in this month, this is the most stressful thing, really really tried my patience, made me really wanted to scream and shout (and I did, actually, once on Tuesday recently). One half hours to work, two hours back from work (when it’s usually one hour and 50mins respectively during other months) really took a toll on my energy and willpower. Whatever study or other plans I had in mind before riding the car would be gone by the minutes, and hours.
The bad thing about being in a heavy traffic is the way all ugly thoughts would rear its head, I’d grow horns and fangs! Trapped in a small-ish space of my wira with nothing better to do, nothing else to think about, can’t write or do something else because the traffic actually DOES move although slowly….really really tired me out.
That’s why I slept over whenever I’m on call, even though most of the time I didn’t need to. I felt calmer and I could do more things.
Thank God it’s all over (hopefully), as I’ve started my leave today. I was all set yesterday, whatever happens I don’t wanna work today because I would just go crazy sitting in the d***** traffic again.

2. Not spreading words that may cause fitnah
Stress score 6
This is more subtle. You know, when someone did something wrong to you, of course you may want to lash out and say “none of this is my fault”, although the actual fact is everyone’s at fault and things should’ve been settled better and “not this way”.
I had to stop myself everyday from putting up leading statuses such as “funny how some people….” or “a man should….” or “if someone does this and this….” or as clear as “love is….” which will cause people to think, “oh, maybe he did this and this and this, and she said this and this…” and it’s already fitnah.
At times I wanted to share so that we could all learn from whatever that has happened, but then again it’s not fair because I wouldn’t want the other party to do the same about me. We all have different versions of the story and none of us may be right. Whether or not they say bad things about me and to whom do they tell things it’s their business. Really, I should stick to my principles and keep my words in check.

3. Being judgemental
Stress score 4
Being analytical is, really, an excuse to being judgemental. Sometimes we tend to say “oh, she did that and that, that’s why she’s like this now.”
But the other person next door is quite nice, still why did the same thing happen to her?
Things happen for a reason and only God knows it, we need to search for the answer but at the same time there’s no need to brand anyone based on their illness/ailment/misfortune. I’ve known someone before who believes so much in “hukum karma”, meaning what goes around comes around. True, but you shouldn’t make it a point to brand such and such person as “having done something wrong” just because their lives are difficult right now.
And another thing about being judgemental is you’d tend to think that when there’s nothing wrong in your life, you’ve been the nicest greatest person on earth. Or you’d think nothing bad will happen to you because you’ve been so careful and respectful and grateful and nice and generous.
That’s another big sin.

4. It’s all about balance
Stress score 7
Time is sooooo precious (yet I managed to find time FB-ing). How do I manage between my parents, my siblings, my other family members, my job, my studies, my friends, and my own life?
I do admit that I lost one but I gained so much more….
I’d need to help out in the kitchen esp in the evenings, which is a bit impossible during weekdays (see point number 1) and also working weekends.
My sister doesn’t like me to stay out/eat out too much because…well, she loves me (and I love her too) and she wants my company. I missed most of her childhood when I was studying and the first 2 1/2 years of my working life. So here she is making the most out of me. Which I don’t mind. I love her to bits. She’s my angel.
My cousins has been asking me out but I haven’t managed to do so until now. We went out once to McD for supper (had a great time chatting away), and once when we send off Hafiz back to Dubai.
My job….not too bad, really. It’s just related too closely to item number 1.
My studies….when I’m too tired I’d just be knocked out and no amount of pushing from my sister would make me wake up! There are days that I manage to qiam at night and study. It’s really good, because it’s more quiet and I feel more rested, and in the morning I’d feel calmer than I ever did before. And when I stay over in the hospital I’d wake up at 4 and study….the rest of the morning would feel so peaceful.
Actually I miss my time in Dublin when the iftar time is around 4.30pm, went on for maghrib, isha’ and tarawih, and by the time I’m done it’s only 6.30pm! So I’d sleep first, wake up at 9pm and study til 1 or 2am. There’d still plenty of time to sleep because subuh would only start at around 6.30-7am. Really, it was great and I felt good and everything seemed to fall into place.
My friends…I only managed to go out with Farah once. That’s yesterday. Before that she’s always on call on the same day as I was. So usually we’d break fast in my ward.
My own personal life. Truth be told I don’t have one, and I realized (with a jolt, actually) that I’m not ready for one. I love life but I guess I’d just stick to swimming (later), scuba diving (later), watching movies, travelling and facebooking and of course blogging/blog-hopping. I’ve been told to “live your life to the fullest while you’re free now before you’re tied to another person” by my bapa angkat (he ended that statement with “he he he”). Yup I’ll do that, with a perfect harmony.

I feel like I’m walking on a thin strand of hair and would stumble anytime if I don’t balance everything well. I believe that God has given me this task for a reason, and when He Gives something to someone, He Knows that the person could handle it. For me, only He could help me, and I could only face all this with His help.

It’s been a month full of trials and tribulations – hunger and thirst lies much much behind in the ‘stress rating’. I do hope and pray that all these will only make me a better person later. At times, to make myself feel better, I’d think that maybe Allah has prepared something great in front of us that He’d prepare me for that first. Maybe. Well, I heard somewhere that if God tests you, it means that He remembers you.

Eid Rendezvous – Fond Childhood Memories

Celebrating Eid in a big family is always more delightful. My father has ten siblings, and when I was young many of them were already married, and have little kids.

We used to live far away from grandpa’s place. In Terengganu, Kelantan, Johor….all over the place. Of course we’d excitedly await the time for balik kampung, for Eid.

(There are no phrases in English that could translate ‘balik kampung’. It actually means going back to one’s hometown, visiting one’s parents for whatever celebration – because we’d want to spend festive season with our loved ones.)

Anyway…
I remember my uncles gathering around the huge iron wok making dodol. This sweet coconut candy needs energy to make, especially when it’s all thick and gooey. They’d sit around, each making ketupat while waiting for their turn to stir, chatting and making fun of each other. It takes hours to finish – usually they’d start in the late afternoon, and the process would go on until almost midnight. Sweat dripping, sweet smells drifting, laughter upon laughter…

And I remember Wak Des would buy the meat for rendang, and some other brothers would cut them up for grandma to cook.

Grandma…
It’s amazing that such a petite lady has that much energy. She would’ve woken up at around 3+am to cook for sahur. Then she’d start processing all the onions, garlic, ginger, spices and herbs for the main meals. The aunties would help out with the preparation, of course. The lontong, ketupat, kuah kacang, rendang daging, ayam bakar, sayur lode, daging kicap (for Cik Mi, of course)….she’d be giving out orders in the kitchen, and start to make jeneng krisik all by herself.

Not forgetting that for a few days before that she’d have been up and about making bholu contong (my dad’s favourite), bholu gulung (MY favourite, and Hafiz’s too), bholu basah (everyone’s favourite), emping melinjo, and satru/putu kacang (Cik Mi’s kuih). The year after she passed away, the older aunties wondered, who’d make satru for Cik Mi now she’s gone?

The thing about satru is, it’s tedious!! Now, my mom and aunties has yet to come up with a conclusion on which step should be done first. My mom and I tried making it once when grandma was still around, and she lead us along the way. We need to heat up the green peas first, then blend, then I think mix with some sugar…thing is we’re not sure how many times we must put them under the sun. And thing about Malaysian weather is – it’d be rainy or cloudy whenever we decide to make those satrus. So we haven’t had those for quite some time. Yes, we did buy some but surely it’s not the same…

Speaking of ketupat..
It took me three or four years to master the skills of making ketupats. Since I started school, before Eid I’d sit on my aunt/uncles laps and learn to make them. Hey, it ain’t easy and we make it like once a year! Filling in the rice is tricky too…and it does depend on the type of rice one bought! Grandma would wash the rice and strain them on a bakul mengkuang, and the younger aunties, with me and some cousins would fill the sarung ketupat, and lontong too, with rice.

Of course, children wouldn’t sit around the kitchen and help out all day long!
My grandpa bought this huge swing-chair thing when I was very young, and this is the centre of our play. We’d swing it fast, enjoying the wind; or climb on it and chat on top of the swing. Abang Rafli would always climb the trees around the house – well, he did fall one day but he’s ok. Grandpa grew some bushes of flower plants – small purple flowers with orange seeds which we’d play with endlessly. We’d pluck the seeds and throw at each other, or put them in an old pot of grandma’s with other leaves and flowers, pretending to make a dish. Sometimes we’d pack them up in huge jackfruit leaves, pretending they were nasi lemak and sell those to our uncles.

The sand on grandpa’s front yard!! That’s another play material that we loved so much, especially to younger kids and toddlers! The older ones would draw stuff on it. The younger ones would just pat on it or mix with water and it’d become muddy..

The fireworks and bunga api..
Do you remember the bunga api with a cat as a brand? The sulphur/carbon/whatever stuck at the end of a strand of fine metal wire? This was my favourite bunga api – the sparks are nice, and we could make all sorts of formations with a pack of them! Really nice to see them form squares or triangles or stairs. Sometimes we’d stick them on the ground, line them up, and light all of them up Oh, before all that, Cik Mi and Abang Rafli would be busy putting up the oil lamps on the front yard, of course.

Talking about oil lamps, Kampung Bukit Kapar (our kampung, of course) was popular for its creative oil lamp and light formations, also gateways, and was covered by TV3 for a few years. Youngsters (late teenage, early twenties) would build up replicas of wooden houses, ships, buildings or vehicles, whatever they may fancy, and decorate them with lights and oil lamps. Different streets would show off different styles. One or two nights before Eid my dad or uncles would take us out by car/van around the village to see these creative expressions of the young.

I remember the sounds of the self-made cannons – villages/streets would fight with each other – whose cannon would sound the loudest? Boom, here and there! They still do it til now but to a much lesser extent. These cannons were traditionally made with bamboo – the larger the bamboo the louder it’d sound. So it’s up to the young men to look for the largest bamboo they could get. Nowadays they’d use cement or metal tubes – bad thing is some went to the extent of stealing from common waterworks!!

Please don’t do this at home – my father and uncles, of course, used to play those cannons when they were younger. They said nowadays kids get injured because they do not know the correct technique and theory behind cannon making. Hmm…I think I shouldn’t elaborate.

At midnight on the eve of the celebration, my uncles would light up some fireworks. Anyone remember those long tubes with red covering and beautiful, colourful sparks? There’s no way of knowing how many times the sparks would come out, and we’d all count, one by one, until it’s gone.

After midnight, when our mums call us in to sleep (or did they?), we’d put out mattresses in the front area of the house and, well, tried to sleep. I remember Kak Nina and Kak Dida would bring their huge boxes of colour pencils, and we’d stay in drawing and colouring.

Gosh….those were the days….a house full of cheer and the younger boys would sometimes fight and cry (now they’re like almost 6 foot tall each), accidents would happen (like when Arif pulled a cat’s tail and got scratched deep, or when Tau was cleaning up the lawn and accidentally caught a burnt plastic on his wrist, or when Abang Rafli fell from a tree), sometimes the food overcooked (like when Cik Mi and Adam looked after the rendang…….). I guess we’d always look back with laughter in our hearts and tears in our eyes.

Confessions of an Ex-Facebook Addict

At one point I actually got sick of myself for posting one status a day in Facebook. Felt like an addict. I tried to stop for a while, but I can’t. Because this is where I ‘meet up’ with my friends and family, to exchange news and photos. Whenever I can I would stop myself from thinking “I wanna say this and this and this today.”

I failed to do all that until just recently. But why? Well, something happened that made it clear, why I love this so much, and what bad can come from it.

I started to become more attached to Facebook in April this year. Lonely? Hmm…more like wanting to get back at certain people. I wrote a few notes which are so general that they sound like they’re not targetted to anyone. But surprise, surprise, I had good response from my friends and family members. Yes, it DID hit someone – well, siapa makan cili dia terasa pedas. Those were my actual thoughts, even if I was not being sarcastic, those notes really were written from deep inside my heart. And I can’t believe people actually agreed with me. Plus nobody else really thought that I was being sarcastic. Which is good.

Anyway…

Yeah, so I fell in love with Facebook. For the fact that I could get instant response about my notes, or blogs, whatever they call it nowadays. I used to write in Friendster blog, but it’s less interactive so it’s just lukewarm. Or maybe the topics were either not interesting enough or too personal, or just that I haven’t developed my own style, or not being in touch of my true feelings. Maybe all of the above.

Then the quizzes, the games….I didn’t play all these games initially. My sister asked me for permission to play Farmville on my Facebook, as the application is not available in MySpace. So I did. But I fell in love with that too. Now she ended up asking me to harvest the farm!! Arghh….

Why do we keep coming back? Day in and day out, checking out what’s new.

For me I love it that it has made me a bit closer to those whom I would have just said hi and bye along the way in the hospital corridors. I love it that we could joke with each other, the way we never would have without this facebook thingy. I love the fact that I have a circle of friends who are interested in whatever each other is doing, and give support when someone is having a problem, although it may be just in the form of words.

We all tend to put up happy photos during whatever occassion (I guess nobody takes photos on sad occassions – except farewells). Weddings, honeymoon, holidays, parties, concerts… It’s nice to share with everyone. I hope I thought enough of how many people would be able to see these photos when I post them on. Well, I didn’t screen before, but recently I thought I must do a bit of tightening of security. It seems to work now. It’s eerie when almost anyone could quietly see through our photos, one by one, without us knowing it….esp when they are almost strangers.

There are some who think that Facebook is for lonely people. Well, we all need friends. It seems from what I’ve observed, we all are humans, social beings. We need company. Yeah, some people are bored enough and is online most of the time. Hmm…but then again even if I’m busy at home I would put my FB on, most of the time so that I could talk to someone I needed to, or harvest my farm when it’s ready.

Especially now in our lives, due to our jobs, we’re all over the place. Of course we’d miss our old classmates, HO-same-postings, family members…seeing their status or notes would remind us back of them, keep everyone in touch..

I never really add a stranger into my Facebook. And when I post I’d think, “what if so and so and so reads/sees this?” If I can’t stand the thoughts, I wouldn’t do so.

One day I did add a stranger….and I have a bit of regret now. Good thing is maybe I would use my Facebook to a much lesser extent, and able to stop myself from putting up stupid status/posts everyday. But then I can’t put up words of wisdom I discovered around me too. I really needed to choose my words.

Luckily I could change the security settings for my notes and photos. However it disappoints me that sometimes I can’t comment on certain friends’ posts too, can’t write on some other friends’ walls, because of some strangers lurking around. Sigh…..

I promise myself now I wouldn’t add on a stranger anymore….no matter how many connections they have in between.

And my last word (from deep inside my heart that is saying “yuck!” and “‘euuuwwww!”) – Facebook is sooooo not a place to look for future partner. It is for friendship and family bonding, and should remain so!

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