The last day of Ramadhan, we left Bapak's house way past midnight. Funny...but it is still Bapak's house to me. Or to Adel, Shaira and their cousins, it's Datuk's house.
Way past midnight because of the customary odds and ends, the Raya eve rituals. Sounds like a whole lot to do but, honestly, because there are just so many of us, the labour is always pretty decently divided.
And as always (since Mak and then Kak Piah's passing) Kak Olin did all the cooking -- the dishes for our traditional Raya fare of lontong.
It was not easy to feel down and sombre at Ramadhan's end. Neither was it easy to forget that this Eid, a person so important and riveting to all of us, is gone.
But, it's the togetherness that lends so much meaning to the occasion. Always has been.
The haunting -- always haunting to me -- call of takbir on first of Syawal reverberated through all of last night.
It seemed more palpable this time that I was momentarily shaken and gripped the edge of my bed. I sat and wept...but only a little.
Never happened before.
So quickly I dried my tears lest Adel and Shaira caught me.
Dawn prayers needed to be performed before sunrise.
Already fierce shades of amber were splashing in the dark sky.
This Eid, I am an orphan. A "yatim piatu". In mid-life, I am an orphan.
Are they all feeling the same? I found myself asking this question.
But there was no time to ponder.
Got the kids ready to visit Bapak, Mak and Kak Piah at the Kiara cemetery. Kak Eda is at the USJ cemetery.
Several times, I blinked my eyes. Bapak, bapak, bapak. Deal with it. He's gone. Gone. He's six feet under, remember?
I remember. I know. I know.
Yes we all know.
They-- my siblings -- are clever. They always make their visit to the cemetery on the eve of Raya to avoid the crowd on Aidilfitri. They know that this place would be crowded and needed to avoid the crowd.
Perhaps, they needed the quiet to recite the Yassin and offer prayers to Bapak, Mak and Kak Piah.
They needed the privacy . They needed to be alone.
Me? I don't fancy crowded cemeteries either. But I make my visits just after dawn on the first of Syawal.
Bapak's grave has somewhat "settled" which means that soon we will be making arrangements to have the "stone" built.
It would be a simple one, we all agreed. Not the fancy granite or marble.
"You know that's not Bapak... he wouldn't have it."
It'll be made of wood. Cengal wood. Nothing fancy.
At Bapak's -- there I go again -- at our family home in Section 16, everyone was already gathered to begin our Eid celebration.
Kak Olin was preparing the "lodeh" which -- due to its "santan" content -- has to be cooked only on Raya morning.
Once that was over and done with, we gathered in the living room for the "ampun, maaf" ritual. And for the kids, the giving of "duit raya".
Without Bapak as the focal point, our eldest sibling, Kak Ton had to take his place, with Abang Med by her side, and then Kak Olin and so on in order of seniority.
It was a very emotional occasion.
But, sometimes, I think we surprise ourselves. We were under control. A little display of emotion was very much excused.
Oh, why not? Let there be tears. Just don't overdo it.
How wonderful that while we are still in mourning, we are able to celebrate the spirit of Eid.
Bapak's room is brightly-lit. The televison is always on until bed-time.
You'll not only find the kids lounging in his room, or lying on his bed.
It is aidilfitri. It is another glorious and blessed month.
Yes, we miss our beloved Bapak. No words can describe our sense of loss.
As someone said: "the experience of grief is a great gift....for the heart that breaks is just opening again."
Bapak is in us. We need courage and strength to keep his memory alive.
So, for us....the sun will never cease to shine...