Syawal is hitting us in a couple of days, and I’m feeling a little sombre. It’s the first time I’ve been away from home for so long and as the festive season approaches, I’ve successfully managed to avoid a huge chunk of tear-jerking Raya ads to avoid dealing with my feelings.
You see, I’m not actually a big Raya person. The novelty of getting new Raya clothes for myself wore off several years ago because I reasoned that I only ever wear them once or twice at most. These days when Raya rolls around, I’ve learned to be satisfied with just hanging about with family, clamoring over food we’ve collectively slaved over a day before and making sure we keep the petty (but also major, because everyone’s always so emotional during Raya) family drama to a minimum.
But this year’s different. We’re starting anew and though the transition has been rather smooth, it hasn’t been the easiest. I’d like to think of myself as someone who’s highly adaptable to change, but I won’t lie – we’re still getting used to this whole new life. And as we planned our year out, we realised we had no room to return home for the festivities. Not this year, at least.
Instead of dressing up, going around visiting family and exchanging pleasantries, we’re spending the day doing the most un-Raya things possible – working and attending a concert to avoid me turning into a blubbering mess. I mean, it was cheaper than the flight ticket home.
As Raya rolls around the corner this year, I can’t help but feel a little blue that I won’t be able to hang around the family and bicker with my brothers over kitchen duties or hearing my mother and aunts yell orders at each other from the makeshift outdoor kitchen while my father mutters under his breath going “I don’t know how they understand each other.” I’ll even miss kicking up a fuss, making sure my husband’s got a baju melayu on before my mother hands him one of my dad’s to make sure her photo op is perfect.
Sometimes the preciousness of these moments skips by as you jadedly write it off as “just another day”, especially when you tell yourself “this really isn’t a big deal”. And then you find yourself suddenly removed from these situations where it is actually just another day, you’d find yourself wishing that you were more immersive while these moments were occurring.
That’s where I am today – silently (or not so silently, evidently) hoping that I would be surrounded by the clamoring, the smell of my mother’s cooking and the way eveyrone would hold back tears as we hug each other and seek forgiveness for being a mediocre human being at best on Raya morning. But hey, there’s always next year, right?
If you find yourself surrounded by your loved ones during the auspicious day this year (or any day, really), I hope you’ll tell them how much you love them and cherish the heartwarming moments while they last. I also hope you eat an extra helping of Raya food in my honour. Do it. Seriously. And then tag me (@nadardin) on Instagram, I would LOVE that. It’ll be like I’m vicariously living through you.
Until then, Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir dan Batin! May you have a blessed celebration with your loved ones. Here’s to hoping that the festive season brings love and joy into our hearts and homes.
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