When we were young

‘Ma… Ba… since we are all on a 1 week leave, shall we take a drive back to Penang? Visit Ibu in SP as well.’
“The traffic is going to be crazy. Not a good idea.”
1 week later, I overhear mums talking to my father about flying up to Penang for the Syawal weekend. My heart beamed. After much planning, by mum, of course, we left on Friday for….. home.

I haven’t been back since 2013. I used to go back at least once a year. But since everyone had moved to the city, there was never a reason or the time to go back. Well, actually, because there was no reason, time was never spared.
The week before the Raya break, many asked where my hometown is. I actually felt sad having to say there is no one left at my hometown. Grandparents have passed. My only grandma has moved to Subang to stay with my uncle. Our house in Penang has been sold off. I felt sad. A 2 day ad hoc trip back home was just what I needed.

Raya these days is not the same as before. Back then, on Syawal eve, we would go back to Kepala Batas to break fast with the extended family on dad’s side. Then we head further north to SP and meet the family on mum’s side. We would stay up late junking on kuih Raya and carbonated drinks. Next morning, we would fight for who needs to wake up first, and then, fight to use he toilet to perform the sunnah Raya bath. The whole family then goes to the surau for Raya prayers and visit our grandparent’s grave. Once home, we would seek forgiveness and till the day we started having a job, receive Raya packets. We would make another trip back to Kepala Batas for Raya. Lunch was always kurma daging, the ultimate dish, cooked using the family recipe. Back at grandma’s in SP, dinner on the first day of Raya is always feast. Roasted duck, turkey, ayam masak cili api, otak otak masak sambal, mee Bandung, oh the list goes on. My late grandma would lay the plastic mat in front of the TV for us cousins to sit and eat while the adults ate at the table. Moments before the cleaning begun, I would hear my uncle call my name to finish whatever else that was on the able. Yeap, I was the one who finished all the food. And yes, it is always that good. The night would typically end with the entire family watching some Raya movie that involved screaming and crying. The adults would call it a day. But for us cousins? Not a chance. Nights are spent laughing and eating away. Until my dad would call out on me to go to bed somewhere around 2am.

Raya was always fun, crazy, noisy, full of food, full of laughter and full of love.

The family is smaller now since the grands passed. The fun, crazy and noise is a lot less. But, the amount of love, is much greater. We don’t gather like before, hence we cherish every moment we are with each other even more. Every time any of us are able to gather for Raya, we remember the tradition and love that was poured by my grandparents, and we do our best to live up to what they have set.
To my grandparents, Tok Nana, Tok Nani, Tok Cak and Tok, you guys were the most amazing grandparents ever. You gave me my Mama and Baba. You taught them values that they have passed on to me. You gave them knowledge that they have shared with me. You trained them to be the best parent through your parenting. You showed them to live and to love. I can only hope to be able to pass down everything you have put into place to my little one. Thank you for being grand!

There are new grands on the family now. And I can only pray and hope that my child will be able to enjoy Raya the way I did. More trips back home are to be scheduled, God willing.


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