where are you, raya? why can’t i find you? why have you gone away? where is the laughter you used to bring me? why can’t i hear music play? my world is changing and i’m rearranging. does that mean raya changes too?

so is it just me or does it really NOT feel like raya is just around the corner? and it is not for the lack of trying either. really, i actually put effort into milking the raya spirit this year and so far – dust bunnies. i still feel like blah.

i went to the SS18 pasar ramadhan, trying to absorb the happy buka puasa chi. and two or three things bothered me. firstly, where the hell are all the traditional kuih muih? no, i mean seriously, i was speaking to TK about this also just a coupla days, so it really is not just me. it used to be that there are all kinds of different kuih that you really canot get at other times of the year, and they are gone!

okay lah, it is not that there are no kuih at all. but it just seems that the hundreds, okay fine, scores of kuihs around have been reduced to a selection of apam, kuih lapis and agar agar – of different colours. then there is one gerai selling creme caramel, and a couple more selling just tepung pelita. and just for the heck of it, let’s throw karipap into the list of kuih because it is just that sad.

where oh where has my lepat pisang gone? *sniff!*

and kuihs going on the endangered species list is one thing, everything else seems to be on the brink on extinction as well. there in only one, and i mean it, only ONE gerai selling ayam percik in the whole SS18 pasar ramadhan. i grew up in SS18. i know for a stone cold fact that there used to be a time when every other gerai sold ayam percik and the chicken was so awesome because of all the competition. now you have one gerai selling it with sauce that is so cair, it soaks right into the bamboo chopsticks clipping them together. oh you read it right, not skewers, bamboo chopsticks tied with wire – that’s what they’re using to barbecue ayam percik these days.

and i had a craving for lai chi kang that evening. and i swear, any self respecting pasar ramadhan would have this. i mean seriously lah, that is like a requirement. sugar cane juice. soya bean. air mata kucing. air buah tembikai. lai chi kang. these are like the staples of pasar ramadhans. every pasar ramadhan have the kind of lai chi kang in tubes where you can see all the stuff. everyone knows these tubes. i hunted SS18 from end to end looking for lai chi kang and i found it. on the corner of one very small gerai. and not in a tube. in a plastic tub. full of ice *cries*.

and the other thing that depressed me about the SS18 pasar ramadhan is the new appearance of beggers. and several of them also. and i’m thorn about how i feel about this. for one thing, they came to the right place. the gerai sellers give them food. but i am principally not in favour of the idea of giving them money.

i really really feel that there should be a respectable place for these people under the care of the welfare department where the crippled can be taken care of, single mothers can earn a decent living and poor children can get a good education. watching the man with one leg inch his way on a skateboard holding a plastic cup, and the woman cradling a baby and telling her kids to ask money from passer bys – there is just something so wrong about this.

holding a baby – that means that she had a man in her life, like a year ago? and if you know that life is already so hard, and you already got two kids, why bring another child into this world? i know this sounds harsh, but i think that having kids when you really cannot provide for them is just unfair. and using your kids to earn sympathy from others, that’s not the way to live. i know the argument that some people don’t have a choice. this is what they need to do to earn their rent. but surely there is a charitable arm for these people?

and i am really torn about this issue. on one hand, you feel it in your heartstrings to help them. then there are the stories about syndicates and just plain lazy people who are actually making a living and living pretty decently by just begging. why troubles me most is this – we are suppose to be prospering in this country, then why are there more and more beggers on the street? like i said, the SS18 pasar ramadhan have never had these people. now we have less kuihs and more beggers.

i went to carrefour to look for dining room stuff. there was a sale. and again, i try to soak up the raya shopping excitement somewhere between people looking for new baju raya and cake baking ingredients. and as i wander through the aisle with all the cushions and carpets, i listened to the raya songs playing over the hypermarket’s speakers. on loop.

is it just me or are more raya songs sad songs? seriously, there are no happy traditional raya songs. everything is sad and gloomy. tak boleh balik kampung la. parents sudah meninggal la. terkenang daku pada si dia la. and really, besides the staple selamat hari raya song, are there any happy raya songs? not one of those bermaaf-maafan songs, please. but really happy, i-am-happy-to-be-with-you, family and friends kinda song? songs about joy and happiness and how wonderful it is to celebrate the festivity – that kind of song. i mean, really happy songs. and we don’t. we sing about how sorry we are and we sing about regret. why can’t we sing about rebirth and excitement and how life is a celebration?

why aren’t there new raya songs? oh, i made a discovery – did you know that there are rock kapak raya songs? i. am. serious. i mean people screaming about hari raya, and only god know what else they are screeching about in the song. when i flip the CD to look at the title of the song, “bahagia di hari lembaran.” please, someone please tell me that this is not what my world has come to.

i vow to write a happy, joyous raya song. not the bermaaf-maafan kind. not a song to say sorry. not a song about regret. it will be a song to say “hey, thank you for being in my life, and i really appreciate the many meaningful ways you make me a better person,” – that kind of song.

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