Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Memories from Past Ramadans (and Eids)

Memories from Past Ramadans (and Eids)

Many years ago, when I was a young, my mother told me that during Ramadan, all the djinn and satans would be chained in Hell, they would not be allowed out to wreck mischief to us human.
That means a free license to roam the neighbourhood, play outside after Maghrib, sunset and go to the mosque with my father on the pretext to pray terawih, but play with friends outside the mosque. Real fun times. Ramadan also means that my nightly Quran class at the late Haji Abdul Ghafur’s place suspended for a month.
In those days, the mosque was the happening place at night. I would follow my father to the mosque for Isyak prayer. Then when the villagers started praying terawih, we kids would go out and play until its time for the moreh food was served. Then we would join the villagers to eat the food.
In later years I would just perform 8 rakaat terawih prayer, while the rest of the villagers continue on finishing 20 rakaats. I would spent the time chit chatting and helping some people preparing the sweet tea after the villagers finished performing their terawih prayers.
Towards the middle of Ramadan we kids would be busy playing cannon and firecrackers. We also prepared small kerosene lights to light up our house. Normally we just use milk can with a short section of jute. The cans were half filled with kerosene, make a small hole at the middle of top cover, then thread the jute through the hole. One end of the jute is dipped in kerosene inside the can, so when we light up the jute jutting at the top of the cover, kerosene would be sucked and feed the firelight.
Normally these lights would be placed from the road entrance to the front step of our houses. Sort of lighting the way to our front step.My parents told me that during Ramadan, the roh, the spirit of our dead relatives, grandparents would visit our houses during the night in Ramadan, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eid Fitr)

Ramadan was always the time to play firecrackers and cannon. In those days firecrackers were not just bunga api, but the more popular type were the ones that give a loud bang. Normally red in colour, and sold in a pack of 12. The Chinese light them up during Chinese New Year, giving sound almost similar to gunfire. If it blew up in your hand, surely you would lose a finger or two.
By the time I was 8 to 12 years old, Ramadans had always been a wonderful time. Iftar time were usually marked by the booming cannons around the village. In those days, it was not illegal to build home made cannon from the trunk of bamboo, pinang or coconut tree.
I was making my own cannon from the trunk of pinang tree at 10. We cut a pinang tree at Rahmat’s place, got a trunk section about 6 foot long, drag it home and hollow it out in the next couple of days. I simply cut the trunk in half, lengthwise, and dig out the soft heart. Then tie it up with jute.
We use carbide (villager use this to ripen fruit, bananas, jackfruit before selling them at the market) that we bought at the village shop as fuel. Calcium carbide, when placed in water will boil and release ethane gas. This ethane gas would ripen fruits faster. It is also an explosive gas. Light it with match and kaboom. Many kids had been burned playing cannon.
I used a small condensed milk can half-filled with water and carbide. This can is tied up at the end of 6 foot long thin bamboo which I carefully lowered down the mouth of cannon. One end of the cannon is buried in the ground at about 15 degree angle. Once the carbide mix is lower into the mouth of the cannon, we close it with a bundle of damp cloth. Five minutes later, the inside of the cannon would fill up with gas, I would open the mouth of the cannon by pulling the bundle of damp cloth away. The with a small fire, I lighted up the small hole at the bottom of the cannon…

Fire spew out from the mouth of the cannon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eidul Fitr)

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eidul Fitr)

My early memory of fasting, was rather vague. I was probably about 7 years old when my parents encouraged me to fast. My father said I could fast half day. Yes, there is such a thing as half day fasting, said my father, eat sahur as usual, at 4am, ie before dawn, then don’t eat or drink in the morning, then when it has passed midday, and you cannot stand the hunger anymore, you can break fast..
So I was woken up for sahur, which usually was meagre fare of rice and ikan masin or fried eggs, as well as plenty of water to drink. After that my father would teach me to recite the niat for fasting.
“nawaitu sauma ghodin…”
I was taught to recite the niat, intention, or else my fasting would invalid.
After that I went back to sleep. Ah yes, it was a weekend, and I did not have to go to school.
In the morning, by 10am my throat was dry, and I was hungry too. So I asked my mother if it was half day yet, because my intention was just fasting for half day. My father heard, he laughed and then he asked my mother to cook rice for me. So that was my first half day fasting. Some of my school friends also related to me of their half day fasting.
In the later years, my father gradually encouraged me to fast for longer period, more than half day, eg, breaking fast at 2pm, 4pm or 5pm.
I remember that at one time when I was fasting, my father took me on a bike ride to town to buy groceries, and he introduced me to the Indian Muslim grocer, that I have been a good boy, but tired from fasting, I was so tired at 6pm, that when I lie down I saw stars. My father told me to break my fast at 6pm, only about half an hour before iftar time.

Only much later that I learnt that there is no such thing as half day fasting.

Ramadan has always been a special time for us kids. We would have sweet iced syrup water for iftar to quench our thirst. Usually it was rose syrup, reddish maroon in colour, sweetened with lots of sugar. In the days of no electricity, we would buy the block of ice from the ice seller. Our town, Tanjong Karang had an ice factory which normally supply ice to fishermen, and yes they have electricity in town. The factory produce ice in big chunk about one cubic meter. I normally saw two elderly Chinese gentlemen cutting down the ice block to smaller sizes using huge saw. Some enterprising older boys would buy one or two ringgit worth of ice, pack it into a square wooden box behind their bicycle and sell then door to door. To keep it cool, the ice blocks would be covered in wood shaving taken from the town sawmill.
So at around 4pm you would hear these enterprising older boys yelling “airbatu”, selling their ice block to villagers. Normally a block of ice the size of your palm is ten cent.

we shall continue another day..

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eidul Fitr)

My first memory of Eid ul Fitr would be back in the late sixties. I would have been 4-5 yrs old, and I was the youngest back then. One particular day, my parents were up early, and I had cold shower and got dressed with the best that we had. It was in the morning, and sat with my mother at the back of my father's bike. We went to my grandparents' house at Batu Enam. My grandfather's house was on stilt, painted greenish white with leaf windows. It had outer section, 'emper', the roof was made of nipah leaves, and the main living room was roomy with high roof. I thought my grandfather's house was cool and swanky, because it has wooden walls, instead of walls made of nipah leaves like our house. And the wooden leaf windows and walls were painted too.

I remember my cousins Munasir and the late Haji Sakuri as young boys about my size. I remember being shy and always hide behind my late father. I was aftraid to come near my grandfather Haji Daud. Everyone else 'salam' my grandfather, hold his hand and said something like, "Patang kulo kaleh sampean.." in Jawa halus, asking forgiveness, usually the younger person will go to the older ones.
I didnt, I just hide behind my father..very much afraid of my grandfather and all others, my uncles and aunties.

Later on I went inside in search of my mother, she was sitting and talking to my aunties and my grandmother, next to a big wooden box with black metal with small holes. I asked my mother, what was that? "Sound" she said. Only years later I figure out that it was speaker box.

The best food during Eid in those days was 'ketupat', rice boiled in young coconut leaves, eaten with chicken curry. One of 'kuih' sweetmeat that I remember was glutinous rice flour, mixed with sugar and pressed hard into fancy shapes.

I shall continue later with memories from other years.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Story from My Mother XIII: The invisible fence

Ayat seribu dinar

Ayat Kursi

Title: Story from My Mother XIII: The invisible fence

Yesterday I left 4 old bikes at the verandah near the front door. Three of them were sold already sold on auction website, but the buyer hasn’t collected and paid yet. They were gone in the morning, all of them. I didn’t expect someone would steal old bikes. Yes I needed to do something about this, but short of building a fence at the front of the property. The three sides of the property is already well fence, six foot high. I cant really afford building fence for the front yard to fully enclose the property. I also don’t have the space in the garage to store my bikes.

I remember my mother told me story that at one time my father’s old bike was missing from under the house, and a few days later it reappear under the power pole by the roadside in front of my parent’s house. Literally, the bike came back.
My mother also told me a story that one day a couple of years ago, she saw 3 men at our land at the back of the house, walking back and forth, to the west, and then walked back to the east more than a couple of times. So she ran back to the house and informed my father. My father simply asked my mother if she had any money, maybe 15 ringgit, and gave the money to them, 5 ringgit each. She did that, and the men walked away sheepishly, leaving behind a sack of coconuts.

I asked my mother, what did she used as ‘pagar rumah’, and she told me that it was ayat kursi, read with the intention to make ‘pagar rumah’ 41 times. First you must get a bucket of water, the best time to do it is after Asr, carry the bucket of water, and splash the water on the ground while reading the ‘ayat kursi’ around the house. You must fully circle the house if possible.
Ayat Kursi

Earlier today I rang my friend and asked him what did he used for ‘pagar rumah’, beside relating that I have lost 4 bikes last night.

My friend told me that he normally does it in this particular order:
Solat hajat.
Read Surah Yasin 7 times, each time you reach the verse ‘kun fayakun’ use both your palm of your hand and thump the ground.
Then in the evening before Maghrib, walk around the perimeter of your house and splash water with your hand in a wide circle as if covering ‘melindungkan’ the area. Read Ayat Kursi, Surah Ikhlas, Surah AlFalaq and Surah AnNas, with Surah AlFalaq given more emphasis, because Surah AlFalaq is to keep away 'sihir', black magic.

It is important to depend solely and ask help from Allah, without even a shred of doubt.
Here is a how to do solat hajat, that I copied from Mohd Sabri Ibrahim:

2 rakaat;
First rakaat; Fatihah, Ayat Kursi 11x or 21x
Second rakaat: Fatihah, Ayat Kursi 11x or 21x

Or 4 rakaat;
First rakaat; Fatihah, Ayat Kursi 10x
Second rakaat: Fatihah, Ayat Kursi 20x and salam
Third rakaat: Fatihah, Ayat Kursi 30x
Fourth rakaat: Fatihah, Ayat Kursi 40x
After salam read ayat seribu dinar and ask from Allah.
Ayat seribu dinar

InshaAllah, I will do this Thursday night.
NOW, have a happy trip balik kampung. If you leave your house empty, who will keep away the burglar? Only Allah will.