Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quiet Strength

I guess some would call my nenek unlucky for having not one, but two strokes; I argue that she's lucky for surviving both without permanent damage. Regardless, she epitomizes this year's Raya Eve.

This year's Raya's Eve was markedly quieter than previous years. Frankly, it wasn't that fun either, due to the following reasons:

  1. No takbir (going house to house on Raya Eve) at my nenek's neighbourhood in Klang this year, the first time no takbir in many years.
  2. Only a few cousins stayed over at nenek's house this year.
  3. The only fireworks we played were Pop Pop, hardly an adrenaline-pumping edge-of-the-seat experience. Even then we were stopped by an "Oi, nak tido la!" from the neighbor.
  4. I lost a badminton match with my 9-year-old cousin. Whatever. I am more of a ping pong person :-/

Still, I have to give due credit to the few cousins who came (yes, even the 9-year-old Lin Dan wannabe) for the amount of noise and Raya mood they generated in brave defiance to the "Oi!" neighbor. Also, our lust for fire was eventually satisfied with an improvised bonfire fuelled mostly by cardboard Pop Pop boxes. Special mention has to go to Adik and Inayah (Penan) for doing ZILCH while Taufiq and I had to be the MATURE ones and sweep up the resulting smoking mess (terkejut ke…?) :p

Sorry Pak Yep :p

Anyway, there is a reason for this year's lack of atmosphere. My nenek, after all, was recovering from her second stroke. Being the tough lady that she is, she happily received her grandkids despite her obvious frailty. We couldn't be too noisy though because nenek still needed her sleep.

I wasn't too depressed, though. Recent events have taught me the true meaning of Eid. It is more than ketupat and lemang, or duit raya and mercun. It is about quiet strength. And my nenek is the perfect embodiment of that.

Her legs have been weakened, but still nenek insists on walking herself. Admittedly, she complains of her condition (my aunt bears the brunt of that), but they are complaints usual for a lady her age, and does not stop her from living life. If anything, I now respect her as a fighter. An unlikely one, but a fighter nonetheless.

I was right beside her the night nenek had her second stroke. My leg was supporting her head, actually. Seeing someone I've known my whole life face such physical distress right in front of me had a deep effect on me. I was scared, unsure if any moment could be the last one I would share with nenek. But despite falling into semi-consciousness, nenek steadily whispered the kalimah syahadah until the ambulance arrived.

Quiet strength.

We can all learn from nenek. Whether its Adik, who will be having her SPM trials after the hols, or me with the tonne of assignments I've been worrying about (but barely touched), we could all use some quiet strength now. To quote a good friend of mine (and I am quoting from an SMS here): "u know what, take this as a phase in life. Lifes surely wont get any easier, buts its us to choose to be stronger, wiser or not. Er am I getting this rite?"

Yea, you got it right, Sya. A little discreet determination is all we need :)

I am inspired by what I've seen today on the first day of Raya. My entire family was here, at least before 11a.m., and for the morning I was a kid again. Underneath all the troubles of the recent past, family bonds are as strong as ever. Stronger, in fact because of what has happened to nenek. Quiet strength.

It is also worth mentioning that I've finally beat my 9-year-old cousin (by unofficial count) today. Quiet strength, Aqashah :D

Coming to the end of this post, I have to get something out of the way: in the past year I have hurt many people, not least my mum (I made her cry). To all; family, friends and foes, I apologise. My pahala this Ramadhan would be insipid without your forgiveness, zahir and batin.

The last year has been fun and challenging in equal measures (or is the challenge the fun?) but personally, at least, I think I've come out a stronger man. Dang…still weird referring to myself as a man :-/

Salam Eid everyone.

Stay quietly strong J

The tough old lady drinking Milo after being discharged from ward
*the song "Fikirkan Boleh" playing in the background* :DD