Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Four Seasons

This new season of fall is a busy time for my sisters back in France and England.  Its the new school semester for their children, and so, busy time but with some free time early of the day for them too.  I want to talk about family ties and how that fact can influence and affect one's marriage. 

My two sisters have been a great influence in my life both at younger age and as an adult.  They grew up around me and my life was timetabled around them.  They exist because I was around, that's how closed we were to each other.  I am the eldest girl.  So, naturally, I took care of my sisters when they were little.  I was like a mother to them apart from being an elder sister.  That's how I was regarded at least during the times when our parents were away.  And, they were away most of the time.  My youngest sister, the one who resides in England at the moment, is the most attached to me when she was small girl.  She couldn't eat when  I was not around.  She will wait for me no matter how long it took.  And, my other sister who is now in France with her family, she and I are two of a kind.  We shared many things together.  She loved to read.  All heavy stuff, literature most of the time.  But, nowadays, she said she read mostly about economy and finance.  Still heavy stuff.  She read Pramoedya Ananta Toer novel, Keluarga Gerilya, when she was thirteen years old.  After she finished reading the novel she told me about it.  And I read that novel at fifteen, after she gave it to me.  I always considered my two sisters as smarter than me.  Both were brilliant students.  We were very closed that we shared everything down right to having baths together, the three of us, scrubbing each other's back, and shampooing each other's hair.  We slept in one bed and cooked together and sang together and I will play the guitar.  We will cry together when we were down about something or crying for our mother because we missed her so much.  We will protect and defend each other against any harsh or hostile people.  We kept our secrets amongst us never shared it even with closed cousins.  Of course, we had our quarrelled too.  But, we simply loved each other.  And, that love lives on till this day.

We never drifted apart from each other.  Even when we started to have boyfriends.  Except for my sister who is living in England now, she despised my boyfriend those times when I had one.  To her, my boyfriend took me away from her physically and mentally because, to her, I had to spare my time to the boyfriend and no more to her.  She took it very very badly, until the day I got married.  She refused to attend my wedding.  Hahh... still, I love her with all my heart.

This closed relationships between sisters, the kind that I have, is hard to erase or dilute or intrude by outsiders, even by spouses.  We had very strong memories, sweet, happy and sad together.  In bad times, especially, during our adult marriage life, we shared our grievances about our marital problems and talked it over for solution finding.  We opened up everything to each other.  Working on to find the weakness points in our selves and our strong points and talking to find ways to understand our own spouse.  There is always mutual respects amongst us towards each other's lifestyles and beliefs.  We are outright about our opinions to each other.  Sometimes, it hurt to hear the truth but that's how it is with my sisters and me.  We tell each others our mind and thoughts, in the hope to help each other to understand the situation that one is in and so, the best of solution can be found for the best interest of us as sisters.  We care about each others' well being and the happenings in our marriage life is a matter of interest to us all.

In fact, we know of each others' development, about our children and their successes and failures, whats the issues troubling youngsters nowadays, and for that matter, we encourage interaction between our kids.  So, that they are closed to each other.

Does this closed relationships amongst us sisters disrupt our relationship with our spouse or it gave negative influenced to our marriage and spouse?  No, it doesn't.  Unless, the spouse has a specific grudges towards any one of us then, our sisterly closed ties would be an unpleasant fact to him.  But, in our marriage, the spouses are fully aware of how closed we are with each other and they are also aware how much we would be missing each other if holidays are postponed or cancelled.  The awareness of spouses is due to the fact that we make it a point for them to know and understand our relationships as sisters and we told them stories of our life together.  This kind of understanding is crucial to build because, a marriage where a spouse cannot take or accept this kind of family ties, would slowly contribute to being a negative issue to be pick-up by the spouse during bad times.  As such, would be an unhealthy element in one's marriage.  Eliminating unhealthy elements is important for the positive growth of one's marriage.

I regard healthy siblings ties as a good ground for building lasting self-confidence and believed in one self and this strong ties are really helpful when one is in a marriage crisis where decision upon decision must be contemplated on and finally made.  I regard a strong sisterly ties like what I have is like four seasons coming and going each year, renewing its elements with the coming new season.  Giving one with a new perspective to ponder on, and  preparing one with new hopes and new views on life.  Giving one with a feeling of belonging-ness and root-ness.  What is life without a family beside you to give you unconditional love, till the day you die.

To my sisters, Bun and Tik, my love forever to both of you.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In My World

Muslims all over the world are about to celebrate one of the Muslims' celebration days -- Eid; it is a day of celebration after a full moon's of pure worships and fasting.  In the South East Asia region, the celebration is rather unique.  There will be specific types of food prepared and served to guests and these dishes can be similarly found in different parts of this region including in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Singapore and Thailand.  And, in Malaysia, Eid will be celebrated for one month.  Nowadays, it is customary to have an open house during the whole month of Eid particularly, for those living in cities.  The majority of the kampung folks are still holding to old traditions in most parts of rural areas, where the first few days of Eid will be celebrated by visiting families and friends houses; as such, the atmosphere and feelings of "raya" can be felt truly. 

My best memories of Eid celebration have always been during my childhood times, perhaps even during my teenage age too.  Nowadays, those happiness in celebration would be for the children.  I still remember when I was a kid, visiting my grandmother's house and other grand-aunts houses, uncles, aunties and cousins, the environment and the feelings were so jovial, with lots and lots of different kinds of foods, sweet and savoury alike.  I remember the nice big cake with colorful icing on it put on the table at the middle as the "ibu kueh" meaning, the head of table.  The cake will stay in the middle of the table for at least a week.  Only after a week of display, can it be eaten.  And, the eating part of that cake is a ceremony, a noisy ceremony filled with laughter and  fun.

I don't know why, but, I feel that the taste of the food during my childhood time and today are different already.  I wonder, is it because of my age as an adult made me tasted food in different way now, but, i feel the food when I was a kid tasted so good.  The peanut gravy eaten together with ketupat- the rice cake cooked in young coconut leaves, tasted heavenly when I was little.  So was the beef rendang, the lemang, the almond cookies, the coconut cookies, the semperit and the dahlia cookies,  the kek gula hangus, the lengkong merah, even the red syrup drinks!   I guess, perhaps the memories what makes the taste of the foods still the best in my mind.  But, perhaps, because most of the food were cooked by my late great grandmother and grand-aunts.   So, that memories are attached in my mind like an elephant glue.

Such beautiful memories;  went to visit the houses all around the kampung with my brother and sisters and friends and cousins were the most joyous feelings at that time.   And, the pakciks and makciks were so courteous and kind and so patient when greeting and serving foods and drinks to us kids.  And, after eating, we will get some "duit raya" for twenty cents , during those times.  But, my father was the generous one in the kampung.  He gave fifty cents to the kapmung kids and one Ringgit to his nieces and nephews.  Those kampung kids will come every day to our grandma's house for a week just to get the fifty cents duit raya from my dad, and my dad would say to these kids that he remembered them from yesterday's visit and he will laugh and still will give the duit raya again. 

I love raya.  Because, I love visiting families and  friends and having the joy of spending time at their houses and eating good food.  And, I love when families and friends visit my home too for raya.  This is special time.  The foods taste better.  The laughter are more genuine.  The smiles are frequent.  The smells in the air are even different.  You can smell the aromas of foods everywhere and many different kinds of perfumes too.  And, the sights are beautiful too; colourful clothing's, colourful dishes, and colourful curtains and carpets too.

I simply love Eid in Malaysia!  There will be no other place in the world where you can find such merriment like this.  How I wish I am seven again...