The holy cow and 50 ninkampoops

The whole lot of us were at the usual kopitiam which we usually go to after every Friday night’s training. Our dojo gang, I would always refer it to and made up of people of different colours, races, nationalities and religions united under the banner of aikido.

Just as our orders arrived, one of us, scrolling through his smartphone related to us the news update of the incident in which a group of men, marched a protest in Shah Alam against building a Hindu temple by putting a cow head as their ‘masterpiece’ of their protest march. Instantaneously, that brought about lashing responses from all of us, none of whom are Hindus ourselves. Firstly, it was a severely bad case of hitting below the belt. Secondly, it was tastelessly done. Thirdly, it was done after Friday prayers in the month of Ramadan by the people whom supposedly the are bearers of a peaceful faith. And lastly, it was insulting– not just to the Hindus mind you, but to the faith of Islam, for Islam never teaches its followers to be as disgraceful as this.

The scene at Shah Alam on Friday afternoon

I was embarressed, not only as a Muslim, but also as a foreigner on Malaysian soil whose good name of the country myself and fellow non- Malaysian communities here vehemently defended many times in the faces of our own countrymates back in our own homelands much to their chagrin. As we always reason out with people who verbally slash Malaysia with the sharpest tongue ‘boken’ ( a long Japanese sword used by samurais ) they can muster in their oral capacity– that Malaysia is much, much more than just what its negative image has to offer and it needs to be looked at and experienced with discerning eyes, hearts and minds. So much so for our diplomatic ( albeit teeny weeny bit and extremely tiny ) efforts in being its mobile ambassadors! Yesterday, yet again we were left disappointed and frustrated. And yes, alot angry.

Previously, before this house we are living in,  in the old place, we had an old helper who cleaned our house 3 times a week. She is Hindu and we would trust all our worldly possessions with her. Such was our relationship with her. Those times, on the days she was coming, I made it a point not to cook any beef–not that she would mind and also it was our place that she was working in, but as a respect for her, for she was more than just a helper, she was an endearing ‘aunty’, friend, caretaker and yes, of course a super efficient house helper whose services we employed. The two occasions we visited her during Diwali, she made it a point to cook an all halal menu. Such was her relationship with us. So excuse my earnest outrage over this incident. I found it purely daft and I am sure, many others here especially the majority factions of the Muslim Malaysia feel the same way too.

The last time I felt this way was during the stabbing incident in Dresden, Germany. But as the husband puts in, at least there was an open reaction against the ShahAlam incidents by Malaysians especially the Malay/Muslim communities here, the government etc. There was not such an outcry in Germany over the Dresden court incident, and for that, he was embarressed.

But I do wonder, on that Friday, where was the ever ready ‘Skuad Khas Pertahanan Awam’ ? Or the special force unit–the ones always ever ready to spray protestors with tear gas and water to stop whatever protests happening on the streets here? Cause I sure feel those 50 ninkampoops and their tasteless cowhead parade deserve those water canons and tear gas more than anything else.

her talent (time)

This Ramadan and Syawal, myself and perhaps many of fellow ‘iklan petronas’ fans would miss the works of almarhum YasminAhmad who never failed to produce masterpieces during the ‘iklan petronas slots’ I particularly like the Payung  episode here, and the Ombak Jahat episode below. And finally the English version about fathers.

May her soul rest in peace…

A bus-loadful of wishes

We have a zinc roof top and it pitter patters as the rain drops on it, which is like right now. Especially if I am working away at night in our home office, which is like the attic part of the house- more of like the mezzanine floor of sorts.

I love it each time I am in our office or library and it rains, especially if it rains hard like right now. And when it rains hard like right now, the best thing to do is to make a busload of wishes. In other cultures, it is always make a wish upon a rainbow or a shooting star. And your wish will come true. But for the people of my faith, when it rains, it is one of the best time to make supplications and ask for anything good we wish for, as during the rain, it is one of the two times our supplications ( or laymen speak: wish list ) will not be rejected as it was said in this hadith :

During The Rain:

Narrated Sahel Ibn Saad (may Allah be pleased with him); that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

Two will not be rejected, Supplication after the Adhan (call of prayer) and at the time of the rain. [Reported by Al-Hakim and Abu Dawood].

Just like that ‘Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair’ we read about in Enid Blyton books when we were kids, where the characters just need to make the wish and all will be granted. This works along the same way, I guess– the only difference is that, we ask directly from HIM, the One and Only.

So, excuse me, while I go and make my busloadful of wishes. Yeah, I have THAT much to ask for..

as though my heart grinned widely

We arrived late and was just in time for azan. I settled with a cup of frothy teh tarik provided by the surau and soon another lady pushed a small plate of pau goreng sambal and a kuih talam ubi ( i think ) to me. I sat under the not so crowded tent in the surau we frequent since Ramadan begins, facing the open carpark.

I heard the azan and ate slowly the 3 pieces of dates I brought from home and periodically sipped the teh tarik, which was just nice. Frothy and not too sweet. I absent mindedly sat there and looked at the open sky while munching on the fried sambal pau. Slowly, I saw the sky turning a shade of baby pink, followed by some rose pink of sorts. Then it slowly but surely moved to towards being bluish violet and finally, a distinct purple colour. And it lasted for a whole 3 to 4 minutes or so.

Purple sunset. I’ve caught a few of those in the past whenever I was lucky enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me just now. Otherwise, I could have recorded that very moment which made my heart grin widely. A moment which some defined with the word joy. But I think it is more than that.

Much more.

Oh Khatirah!

Kathirah… to the untrained ears, that may just sound like some nice Muslim/Malay name of a girl. It goes with the variations of Nur Khatirah, Siti Khatirah, Syarifah Khatirah, Nurul Khatirah and the list goes on.

But it is way past midnight now, I am burning midnight oil yet again translating as deadline is this weekend, and I will surely be dead if I don’t get it done. And Khatirah has been swirling in my head at the moment. Not just any Khatirah. The Khatirah from MasjidKassim. The Khatirah that costs just $1.50 but its richness is worth every cent it demands from me.

Kathirah. It’s that yummy milky drink with whatever fillings inside. I can hardly find it here.  In fact I don’t think I ever found it in the pasar Ramadan in my neighbourhood. But years ago, I used to frequent doing my tarawih prayers at MasjidKassim and I had a bottle every single night of Ramadan.

*Sigh* Get back to work damnit!

Surrealism

Two days ago I experienced a miracle. I was the ‘mak bidan’ to our Tito’s labour.

To put it shortly, the younger of our two cats, Tito gave birth. It was surreal. Firstly because all along we thought of Tito as a boy. Even all his records at KlinikHaiwanDrYeoh had the word MALE. Until a couple of months back we caught Tito and Milo mating, and we started having doubts about Tito’s gender. Tito has always been fat so we were also wondering if that mating had caused any pregnancy or not.

It was two nights ago that Tito managed to cajol me into going to the empty compartment of the rack of shelves in our room. Soon, two paws clutched my fingers and Tito started to shiver and ‘meneran‘. That was when our final confirmation that Tito is a girl and that she was in labour. Her labour lasted for two hours. The husband gave up after the first ten minutes and went on to watch Artificial Intelligence on tv,  while I was left to attend to the natural labour of our naturally conceived creature instead. For two hours I sat next to her, letting her soft paws clutched on my fingers and at the end of the two hours, while I was already drooping off to la-la land, her clutches became more intense. With the other hand I dialed the husband’s number on my mobile, whispering into it for him to come into the room pronto. He came in time just in time to see tiny paws and a slimy body, blood and all other gooey stuffs out of Tito’s bottom while Tito, our baby all these while whimpered in pain.

48 hours later, today…all the kittens died one after another. They were too weak to survive. As we read up, the kittens, born from siblings of the same mother, same father i.e products of accidental inbreeding will be too weak to survive. That made our first Ramadan a bit ‘sayu’, having to bury these cute little things one by one in our garden.

However, the experience of being a part of the labour process of our Tito, especially for me was so surreal. I was cheering her on with PUSH TITO !! PUSH!!! while she meoweedd and huffed and puffed while STILL holding on to MY fingers.

So now we are back to just the two of them. Oh well it’s ok…destiny you say? 😦

Just some memory trip I would like to take from the LAST Ramadan..when Tito was still a kitten herself and looks up to big brother Milo for just about everything…

Definition of COPY CAT. Tito copies everything elder brother Milo did, even the way he sleeps..

Milo likes to smother Tito with wet licks and kisses, and even use her sometimes a his bolster as seen up here

Tito, taken in December 2008

Ramadan magic

Ramadan will be with us at the end of the week. I have been indulging in too many gastronomical activities to realise its coming but now that I am looking through the google calendar, it suddenly dawned upon me how near it is to us now.

Other than the usual spiritual lessons, chapters, facts etc that we have been told again and since since we were young of its significance, Ramadan memories to me are magical. Sometimes thinking about them made me laugh or cry myself silly.

I started fasting when I was in Kindy1 @ 5 years old. It was my father’s proudest time that I completed my full day fasting for the whole month at 5 years old. But I realised that I was already a die-hard foodie back then. I had many uncles and aunties and I made each of them bring back something for me to ‘buka puasa’ with, or else bear with my tantrum. I remember vividly the packs of kaka, keropok, mamee or kandos or whatever they brought back lined in one straight long line, beginning with what I want to eat first. Terrible I know. So if I talk too much about food now, know that I started young. Very young infact. ( Disclaimer: gluttony is a sin. I am a bad example to follow :P).

Years later when I was in Pri 3, I cheated on my fasting. That was in the early 80s where playing police and thieves were the IN thing during recess periods. Being the super hyper active kid, who can resist it, fasting or not? And most of the time I ended up the only girl playing police and thieves with all the boys, which gave double the exhilaration but sapped twice as much energy. Once, I remembered I couldn’t stand it anymore, I actually marched into the canteen 5 minutes before the bell rang and gulped a glass of ice-cold red coloured syrup –10 cents per glass. Then I felt guilty like hell.

I was in the afternoon session and the sun was scorching hot and I knew if I don’t drink something after a full half an hour of running and screaming in the field, I won’t survive the rest of the day. But breaking fast to play police and thieves was not a good reason at all to give my parents. Not at all. I felt so bad and the boys with whom I played with gave me my first most important lesson in life to be street smart — ‘kalau mak awak tak tau awak minum, macam mana dia nak marah awak?’ Basically in adult speak, what your parents don’t know won’t hurt them. The very wise advice coming from a gang of 9 year old boys to the only girl amongst them. That night, when I joined my parents for iftar, guilt was painted in bright red all over my face and I dare not speak less I accidently blurt out about that 10 cent cup of ice cold syrup.     ( Disclaimer: My parents still don’t know about this! Shhh )

In teenage years, Ramadan was about writing the list on who to send Hari Raya cards to. Being from an all girls school especially those of us who actually went outside our school for our Malay classes at the MOELC, ( read: there were boys from the affiliated boys school in there! Wooohoo ), it was a case on which one of your crush actually give you or you dare sent to OR how MANY you received. Competition was rife and bitching was the game, never mind that it was Ramadan where we were taught to be all good and holy. But in a girls’ school, claws are aplenty and we learnt about the real life in the corporate world in there. Competitiveness  rules, maybe that’s why girls from girl’s school are always ahead and fair better in competitions/corporate world? But I digress. But yeah Ramadan as a teen was definitely memorable in the most ‘kental/Obit’ way.

In young adulthood, Ramadan was the turning point of my life where I made the decision to put on the hijab. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever succumb to– not to anyone but my own self. I tried giving myself 1001 reasons why I shouldn’t wear it but 2002 reasons why I SHOULD came bouncing back to my hyperactive mind. It drove me crazy so one day I just woke up and told my mother I wanted to wear the hijab. She thought I was kidding or one of my many phases. But I was dead serious and she was a third surprised, a third happy and a third skeptical–in that order. She reminded me again and again not to let it be a phase- if I want to put it on, put it on properly and for good, not halfway. Well it is still on my head to this day, so it was not a phase- I think ;).

Then there was the first Ramadan as a married woman. The kind I had to wake up and prepare everything myself and be responsible for the husband’s sahur. I was far away from home and felt homesick like hell. And there were only two of us fasting – how boring could it be? And the same goes for evening break fast. Just the two of us. Without the noise and ‘kecoh-kecoh’ of a large noisy family. Warna 94.2 online was on my laptop like 24/7,  seriously.

The most magical Ramadan was the ‘Cowboy Iftar’. A couple of my friends with whom I went to uni with, John and Khadijah were born and bred cowboy and cowgirl in a ranch deep in a Queensland outback, Australia. This husband and wife couple with then 4 kids, live on a ranch with cows and horses and stables and the whole works. Both of them became Muslim in some funny way which deserves another entry altogether. We happened to be in Queensland that Ramadan and decided to pay them a visit, and I told Khadijah ‘throw us the pure Muslim Cowboys do!’

And oh boy! We had iftar outside with the great Aussie Barbie ( BBQ) under the sky outside at the stables area and the rest wearing their cowboy hats ( gubra ) and right after the azan, while the barbie was on, we had country music playing and John sang country folk songs with his guitar. We then did our maghrib and isyak and tarawih not on praying mats but on dried hay on the ground under the sky full of stars.

It was purely magical.

Those were just some of my Ramadan magic… some. There were more but I think these are the ones I keep remembering with the coming of each Ramadan.

What’s yours? 😉