02 July 2017

Not Your Usual Raya Story

“Ini sorang je yang belum kahwin lagi. Adiknya lagi dua pun dah kahwin.”

That is how my father introduces me to the guests. It was the same script, again and again, as if it was the only thing I have to my name that bears repeating. 

My dreams, my history and my achievements are nothing to compare to my relationship status at the moment it seems. Being married is more important than, say, curing cancer during this time of the year.

Back at home, there is no life. Or at least there is no MY life. The only one I have is of me being the extension of my parents, another mere branch of their tree. I thought myself as the seedling, an independent outlier that was launched out of their compound, but they don’t treat me like that. 

As an extension, my sole duty was to carry out my parents’ ordinance. I had to have no desire of my own. I had to listen earnestly, serve and doesn’t emote anything opposing to that of my parents. Raya was always like this since pubescence. Now being the only single child with no kids of my own, the pressure is higher as I am now the remaining only branch, a single limb refused to break off from the parent tree. That means it’s only me whom they have to boss around. 

“Siapa nak jaga awak masa tua nanti?”

My father asks me while he himself cries, as if I have hurt him for being the only unmarried child at this age, as if I did it on purpose. What wrong have I done to deserve this? I’m just unlucky in the love department, Abah. 

Raya used to be an occasion. No, the occasion. The only time of the year when we would have extra special food, new furniture, new curtains and the only time when we would unroll the special carpets in the living room that would otherwise be rolled away in the storeroom during the year. Even the TV shows were Raya special – blockbuster movies that you won’t otherwise could afford to watch in cinema. The duit raya that we collected during the raya is then used to buy KFC. Yes, KFC used to be a raya occasion for us. 

But now we’ve all grown up, we eat KFC almost on a daily basis like nobody’s business. We download and torrent our movies, in HD furthermore. Some of them was even run and rerun (and rerun and rerun) on Astro. 

The irony of the whole situation was that we never understood how it felt to ‘Balik Kampung’ because we used to be home all the time. Now we’ve grown up, we called our home as ‘Mak’s house’. This used to be our home, goddammit.
Things have changed so much. I couldn’t even remember when was the last time I got excited over Raya. Heck, I couldn’t even remember when was the last time Mak and me slave ourselves away in the kitchen together, cooking rendang, dalca and nasi minyak while Mak relays the freshest, juiciest gossips to me while I'm stirring the pot. Ahh, mother and son bonding. 

Me the kitchen helper and Mak the chef. Mak used to say ‘There are only the two of us.’ Now it’s only me, Mak. I miss that time when Mak would, or rather, could participate in the preparation. Now Mak and Abah leave them all to us. Mak could no longer walk by herself. 

Raya’s atmosphere used to encompass us. It was overwhelming, so surreal, so out of this world. Now that we are the one who engineered the Raya to the tiny, discreet detail, the magic is lost. What we thought was magical when we were kids was actually adults losing sleep trying to build Raya from the ground up, often in negative emotions and in a bad mental framework. Often bickering and quarreling among each other even for the slightest disagreements to make sure everything looks perfect. Now that we are the ones who make Raya happens, this has become so real, so raw. So not magical. 

Pardon me for being so somber.

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