Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sparkle That Was Raya...

The year was 1975. I was 10 years old while my two younger brothers were aged 8 and 1. We were living in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar Park. It was a the eve of Eidil Fitri. The house was a buzz with activities: frantic last minute spring cleaning, putting up the new curtains for the living room, ketupat making and rendang cooking in the kitchen. Mom would be making last minute fittings for the dress she had sewn for me to wear on Raya morning. Dad would be in the back yard, supervising my brothers playing with sparklers. I would join them whenever I could, between helping my mom with all that needed to get done before the crack of dawn.

The sparklers. They bring to mind many memories of my childhood years. They were magical in my eyes. Inspiring awe in me. My brother, Eri and I would spell out our name with the sparklers. Dad would also have those that would shoot little balls of colored flame with parachutes attached to them. He would shoot them skyward and we would watch them come down with our mouths open in amazement. Nahar would shriek with excitement at the wonder of it all. Although far from being storybook perfect, it had its moments that always conjures up happiness and smiles on my face. Nostalgia...

My eyesight is blurring now. Tears of sadness and melancholy. Missing those tiny bits of happy moments. I was 10 then. Now, I'm 44. Raya for 2009 is a few days away but the atmosphere at home is far from what it was back in 1975. No new curtains to hang. No ketupat or rendang to cook. Maybe some last minute frantic spring cleaning. But it has definitely lost its sparkle.

I miss my childhood when things were simpler then. I may have not had autonomy that I have now, but at least I had an illusion of happiness. Oh my poor heart. I can literally feel it breaking. I grieve for the lost joy of Raya. It has never been the same since. It never will be 1975 ever again. I grieve. I grieve.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Little Orphan Spiky

About a week ago, just as my daughters and I were about to enter our front door with both arms laden with grocery shopping bags, we heard a frantic mewing of a kitten. Quickly, we scanned the surrounding area, only to land our eyes on a little white furry ball, teetering around aimlessly. Lissa immediately went to retrieve the abandoned kitten and took it in. After giving it a good bath and feeding it warm milk, we found that it had cat flu and we took it to the vet on the very next day. When the vet told us that the kitten is a male, we changed its name from Vanilla to Spike. Seven days later, this name has evolved to Spiky.

The last time our house had a feline member of the family, it was also a white tomcat named Salty. He was borne in our house by his mother Bubbles; and he lived with us to his final breath in May 2006. It broke my heart when Salty died. He tried very hard to hang on to us, although his body was already ravaged by illness. I spoke my last words to Salty, telling him how much we love him and that its okay for him to let go. That he will always be in our hearts. Those were my last words to him. And then he died, as if he had gotten the permission he needed to leave us for heaven.

I cried for months. I grieved for years, not wanting to replace Salty with another cat. After a few years had passed, my daughter, Lissa, began begging me for a pet to love and care for. A kitten. And although I said no, I know she quietly prayed for it. Her prayer was answered when Spiky mewed his way into our front door and into our hearts.

Spiky is such a playful and loving kitten. He spends his days and nights eating, drinking milk out of a bottle, playing and romping around, exploring all the dusty nooks and crannies in the house, and sleeping in the crook of our arms, snuggling for warmth and a sense of belonging.

I love to watch Spiky sleep. Sometimes, I'd catch him in deep sleep, jerking his head now and then, probably having a little cat dream. But recently, I noticed he seem to burrow his face into the soft blanket swathing him, making suckling noises with his mouth, with his little forearms out and paws kneading, like as if he's dreaming of snuggling and suckling at its mother's teats. It brought tears to my eyes. I wept like a baby, grieving for his loss. He's missing his mommy. I can feel my heart break for him. Poor little baby.

From that moment on, I decided that I am not going to hold back my love for him. Spiky is not Salty's replacement. But I truly believe Spiky is Salty's way of making us open our hearts to loving again. Spiky gave me the courage to let go of my fears. I have nothing to lose by loving Spiky. I have Spiky's adoring love.

Spiky entered our lives on a Thursday, in the month of Ramadhan. I believe Spiky is Allah's blessing on us.

Not forgetting all the other feline family members of ours, I'd like to take a moment to mention some of their names below:
Ginger I
Ginger II
Scamper II

We are eternally grateful for the many years of happiness and love they have given to our family. We know they are all in Eden.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Was A Dancer, Too...

According to stories about my childhood in my father's memoir, I was dancing before I could walk properly. I guess this explains why I've enjoyed dancing from the earliest of my memories. While I was in school, teachers would find me missing from my desk because I would be on the school stage, dancing and jiving to Michael Jackson songs. When I was 16, I was already well trained in traditional Malay dancing that my experience and knowledge was sought after to teach adults to learn Asyik and Zapin.

As I made my way through college, I would participate in every showcase available to fully take advantage of any opportunity to experience the joy of dancing. While studying in Swansea, I took up Modern Jazz dancing to further learn ways to express my emotions through body movements. All these knowledge and training I had gleaned helped make me into a better performer, as I would rigorously learn all the choreography for the songs that I would sing, wanting to synchronize my movements with my back up dancers. Needless to say, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul were my idols back then.

It makes me swell with pride to see my daughters have taken on the same interest in dancing and music. They are blessed with both talent and grace of movements that reminds me of my youth. My only regret is that my aging body is no longer as agile or nimble as before. I no longer look good in leotards and tights either... Hahahaa..

Regardless, I am glad I had the opportunity to express myself in more than just one medium. Although my body is not able to bend and spin the way it used to, I still remember vividly how beautiful the feeling was to move to the music and let it take over my body. I would lose myself to the music and movement and ceased to exist. What a feeling!

I was a dancer. I used to dance all night. Dance disciplined my body. I miss it. Very much.