It is almost that time of the year again.
Children aren't complaining as much as they used to, as if transfixed on an idea of what the next few days would promise them.
Adults seem to have a distant look in their eyes, as they mentally start their journeys of 'balik kampung', even before the workday is officially over.
Excitement is buzzing through the air, and everywhere, the atmosphere seems charged with an almost magical energy.
Eid is only a few days away...
Soon the hunger will be satisfied.
Soon the wallets will be full of money 'extorted' from relatives.
Soon the happy faces of family and loved ones arriving at the doorsteps, arms outstretched and full of embrace.
As the countdown to Raya grows nearer, families start their ritual traditions...Some start buying ingredients to prepare the sumptuous array of ketupat, rendang, and sambal kacang. Some start taking their best curtains out to the wash, or even buy new curtains to show off to the neighbours.
My family does one extra.
Every Raya, we sing.
And a few days before raya, we practice singing...
As incredible as incredible as it may sound, it has been a long-practiced tradition in my family (on my mother's side) that all the nephews and nieces (my generation) and would have to perform something for our elders (my parents' and grandparents' generations), before we could even smell our 'duit raya'.
So, on Raya morning, after we'd finished the feast and gone for our Eid prayers, all the aunts and aunties would assemble and sit on the sofas arranged in a semi-circle.
Next, one by one, according to age, the youngest being first, we would have to stand in front of them and perform anything that our little hearts desired.
This would include badly (though cutely) sung renditions of Negaraku, showtunes from famous musicals, or even 'silat' performances (which I was guilty of many, many years ago)...
What would result is something along the lines of "America's Got Talent", with these two exceptions: First, instead of thousands of screaming Americans, it would be my mother's side of the family (aptly labeled Familymuar). Second, instead of a 'talent' show, we'd get a 'slight-talent' show, or even a 'no-talent' show.
But, it's all done in good fun... And a pocketful of 'duit raya'.
Wait a minute...
Why am I still performing, even though I don't get any 'duit raya'?