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As Long as We Remember...

July 5, 2017

End of Ramadan Festivities

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – Hari Raya, the days celebrating the end of the fasting month (EID), was fantastic. Suriani worked at her parents' house on Saturday in the Kampong preparing the food and cleaning for the guests to arrive.


On Saturday night, Sunday night according to the Islamic calendar, the sky burst forth in tons of fireworks, bunga api – fire flowers in the Malay language, lit up the sky.


I didn't go over as I knew they would be busy. Dzul and Suriani returned about 2 a.m. exhausted but happy that their tasks were all completed.


Sunday, during the day, was family time. I let my wife and son sleep in before we went back over to her parents’ compound for eating and festivities. We all dressed in our baju melayu, or Malay dress. (See my Facebook page for pictures.)


I sat and talked with Suriani’s mother for a while. I used one of the grandchildren as an interrupter and I talked about the family. She said I should eat. I then changed the subject to the weather. She said I should eat. I tried to talk to her about one of her 30 or so grandchildren. She said I should eat.


I finally sat down at the table and enjoyed her homemade curries. She smiled. I really can't blame her as she is in her middle or upper 70's and has one tooth in her head. She had just finished a bout of T.B. Here, they make you go to the hospital every day and watch you take you medicine. It is just an antibiotic but they make doubly sure you consume the pill. The government is very serious about the health and well-being of the populace.


My nieces and nephews arrived, about 25 of them, all dressed in their Raya splendor. They ranged from babies to about 22 years old. The oldest three have just completed their university training and are drop-dead gorgeous. They wore their hijabs scarf which went around the hair and neck, and blouses with a very tight sarong. Sorry guys, I didn't get any pictures. I was too mesmerized by the incredible beauty of the ladies.


I talked to my 15- and 18-year-old nephews about my wife's and my historical research. They were really interested in the stories we told. They were especially interested in the tales of mysticism we encountered. To me, they were just tales, but to them they are very real as are the ghosts and goblins that inhabit their daily lives. I tried to tell them they weren't real, but they kept telling me about encounters they have had with the other world.


There was no sense in my elaborating on something I could not win, so I stopped my western thought process. Besides, a few ghosts around are not going to hurt anybody. At least I don't think they will.


My friend, Jerry Drawhorn, is here from the States. He holds a Ph.D. in biology and is going to retire in Kuching come November. He has been teaching many topics at a California university. We have had some spirited discussions about Alfred Wallace and his time here. He will retire and take an apartment next door to mine. I really don't why with an energetic six year old running around, but it will be fun to have an American liberal neighbor to discuss the latest goings on with President Donald Trump and local history.


We start swimming lessons with Dzul, and it’s good to have him back in school after a week off. More on that later.


...Life is good


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