How Was Your Raya?


Written on 11/10/2005 05:38:00 pm by sikapitan

Mine was absolutely confusing. A mixture of tension and calmness, sadness and happiness. I went there with a bag-load of books, but my good intention to revise for my finals went out the window as soon as I reached Penang. It is difficult to be the model of excellence in education when all around me everyone was in this whole festive spirit. It’s like going to a concert and trying to write down the lyrics while everyone else is busy head-banging. It’s like being in Baywatch and worrying about getting scorched by the sun. It’s like being in a honeymoon suite with Chalize Theron and thinking about paying for the room.

As they say, if you can’t beat them, join them! My mind wanders far too much during the one week we spent in Penang that by the time I got back to KL I wondered if I had actually studied that particular topic or not!!! On the other hand, I’ve just realized that Hari Raya really is a fun period. Perhaps I didn’t appreciate this fact before because I wasn’t burdened by something else, but I realized when I was holding my notes on one hand while sipping teh tarik on the other that I missed just lazing about in grandma’s house with some god-awful soppy Malay telemovie playing on TV.

When it comes to Raya, there’s nothing like a dose of reality-check for you people who have forgotten their roots, their culture, Islam blab la bla. And this reality-check comes from the ever-popular, but always-irrelevant Malay telemovies. For those of you who dismiss me simply as another urbanite who hates anything remotely Malay-like should realize that I do have a Malay blog that deals with “entertainment”. I enjoy my dose of crappy sitcoms like Senario sometimes and I do listen to Siti Nurhaliza, so rest assured that I am viewing this whole situation as neutral as possible.

Every year, every Raya, the TV stations will be busy putting up shows that will somehow reflect the Raya spirit or simply entertain the Malay crowd. All the TV stations want to capitalize on the common knowledge that during Raya the Malays will become dormant in their kampong watching TV for one whole week, and some more if they have extra emergency leave left. Seriously, my former-favorite Kelantan restaurant does close-shop for the entire month of Ramadhan AND Syawal. And people wonder why Malay restaurants seldom do as well as “mamaks”.

A permanent fixture for Raya is the ‘night-before-Raya-lesson-to-be-learnt’ telemovie. We Malays really are suckers for this sort of shows, as evident from the fixated look my relatives were sporting when Tikar Buruk (even the title sounds depressing) was playing on Astro. We know the ending, we know the moral of the story, heck we could even guess when and how that person will die, and yet there we are crying gently as if it is the first time we’ve heard of long-suffering parents being treated like shit by their children.

The purpose of course, is to enlighten the viewers, to somehow make them remorseful for their past sins and be good in the future. Good intentions seldom make an act good in itself. The execution and the storyline is so cliché that any part that purports to preach will invariably be ignored. I’ve got no problems with melodramas that preach goodness, but for heaven’s sake, I want some joy during Hari Raya please! And by Raya joy I don’t mean half-baked “comedy specials” that is so lame that I have to physically force myself to smile so as not to seem to waste my time.

But isn’t that amazing? The show’s lousy and yet there I am in front of the TV, unmoved, simply absorbing the images without it actually leaving any imprints in my mind. Minutes ticked by, hours come and go, and yet watching TV has become so ingrained in the minds of the public that it’s no longer considered as wasting time!!!

Back to the melodrama that aims to preach. Yes, my aunts will go “Jahatnya anak dia ni (The son is so mean)…”, “Cabai mulut baru tau (put some chilli in mouth)”..., “Rasa nak bagi penampaq (I feel like spanking him)…” and yet at the end of it they’ll sit around bad-mouthing another relatives or showing off some new bracelet. It’s as useless as the sermons in the mosque, but that’s a topic for another day (don’t jump the gun yet, till I explain this in my next entry).

Till then, where’s that Charlize Theron in honeymoon suite image again…hmmmmm

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