Sunday, August 28, 2011

Aidilfitri 2011- Part 6: Ghosts of Raya past

Spending Hari Raya in Gedong this year, I am overwhelmed by the mixed feelings that creep up when least expected. So much has changed since the last time we were here. 2 years ago, we were here not only on the joyous occasion of Raya but my brother's wedding. Now, we are all camped out at his house and little Umairah is almost walking. Time does fly by. There is perhaps a sense of loss, an unspoken fact that hangs in the air but we do not dwell on things that cannot be changed.

Ever since I was very young, we have mostly spent our Aidilfitri here in Gedong since the Aidilfitri celebrations here are probably more grand than in my other kampung (Kelantan- where we often went back for Raya Haji). People in gedong take their Aidilfitri celebrations "seriously". It is celebrated with great joy and gusto and often lasts the whole month. Every house will have prepared the famous Sarawakian layered cakes for the guests and the kids will visit long into the night.

When I was small, there was no concept of giving "duit raya", children would visit to eat the cakes and goodies served and drink lukewarm fizzy drinks until they either got a massive sugar rush or tummy ache. Nowadays, even the kids in Gedong expect "duit raya". 
I have many relatives here, my father comes from a large family. My numerous cousins now have many children of their own, and sad to say, coming here once every couple of years, I have lost track of them, not being able to put names to faces. I have always been terrible with names.

Listening to my brother talk about the social ills that plague my kampung now, I can't help but yearn to turn back the clock to a time when coming back to Gedong for Raya meant running around with cousins and eating more cake than I could possibly ever fit into my tummy. I am saddened to hear that progress here has brought more dark elements than good, with corruption reigning freely and youths squandering their lives on alcohol and drugs. I pray for my brother and his family and hope that they can make a difference. The only way people can break free from poverty is through education, good family values and hard-work. Hopefully, everyone here will realize that before it is too late. I wonder if villages elsewhere are also under attack from these forces or are still the idyllic havens that they used to be.


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