Celebrating Syawal - October 16 2007
As we get older, every Aidilfitri seems to hold a different meaning for us.
When I was a child, it was all about new dresses and shoes, fire crackers and 'duit raya'.
A little older, it was still about new clothes and shoes, fire crackers and "duit raya".
Later in life, new clothes still held some importance only because it was an excuse to splurge on "baju kurung" and "kebaya". The shoes were negotiable and I was no longer at the receiving end of duit raya.
A few years later, Eid became a spiritual victory at the end of a spiritual journey. Something like that.
I remember remarking with a sigh: "Aah....Aidilfitri is really for the children".
No more fire crackers? But what is Raya without fireworks? The ka-boom and sparkling "bunga api" have faithfully remained when other things have slowly dissipated.
Then came the time I joined Mak in resuming fasting on the second day of every Eid for the "puasa enam".
We would have our own celebration on the seventh day. It was fulfilling.
When I became a mother, Aidilfitri took on an entirely new perpective and dimension.
It was no longer about me.
When I lost my mother, it was to be the first time during Aidilfitri that I had to visit a grave -- hers.
I had never felt such a deep sense of loss, an aching loss, as I am sure, did my siblings.
But, I was comforted by the fact that Bapak was there for us all. I was thankful too that we (my siblings) had each other.
Then, we lost our eldest sister, Kak Piah. We were all devastated. Yes, life was really really short and we had to come to terms with that reality.
Two graves to visit every Eid.
This year, Kak Eda left us. Aidilfitri without her. Never imagined that could ever be.
Why had Ramadhan been so fleeting that I had not felt the tingling anticipation, the mental sensation, that usually preceded Aidilfitri?
I was surprised by my own nonchalance which threw me into a dizzying swirl of last minute chores, including shopping for my children's clothes and stuff.
"What is wrong with me that I could have lost track of time?", I had asked myself countless times.
Why was it all so fleeting?
The passing of time, I think, have rendered me somewhat oblivious to the overt celebration of Eid.
What had held signifcance before has ceased to do so now. I think other things have come into play.
For one, I see Bapak -- and this is a cliche - getting older. He is old. But he is getting older.
You know what I mean.
It has been a few years now that Bapak no longer performs prayers on the first of Syawal at the nearby Malik Al-Faisal Mosque. His physical condition has disallowed him to do so. He is less mobile now than he used to be.
This Aidilfitri, Bapak spends his time in his room, resting. Last year, he was able to join his visitors at the dining table. He'd have the customary 'lontong' with them. Then he'd go back to his room to rest. Another set of visitors, and he'd slowly make his way again to the dining or living room.
But not this year.
I can't help wondering...those years when we were young. How Bapak must have felt seeing us growing older every Aidilfitri?
Isn't it during Aidilfitri that we get hit with how fast our kids have grown?
Like it certainly did for me this Aidilfitri.
Take my daughter, Shaira. Wasn't it just yesterday that she was that little girl, wanting and needing her mummy to buy her her favourite Disney video tape or her Spice Girls cassette tape?
And I was able to cradle her.
Wasn't it just yesterday that we'd go shopping for her Baju Raya at the children's section of Metro Jaya?
Wasn't it yesterday that she told me that she would always be with her mummy and would take care of her forever and ever?
Yeah....that was yesterday.
Shaira turns 15 today. Sure, she does still need her mummy for many things.
But, I can't help thinking how grown-up she is now and soon, she will no longer need her mummy to do things for her.
Will I feel irrelevant and useless then?
I'll not think about that yet. Let me enjoy the moment.
So, yeah, Aidilfitri holds something different for me this year. As it had the past years...
Happy Birthday, Shaira. And Salam Aidilfitri to everyone...