Friday, October 31, 2008

Thank you

Friday, 31 October 2008 @ 7.39pm

Thank you for making an effort to improve yourself to make my life better.

Thank you for wanting to study back again.

Thank you for giving everything that I ask for and more.

Thank you for always being there for me when I need you.

Thank you for making funny faces at me to try and make me smile.

Thank you for making an effort with my friends.

Thank you for making an effort with my family.

Thank you for pushing me and allowing me to be a part of your family.

Thank you for loving Cutie as much as I do.

Thank you for loving Chubby as much as I do.

Thank you for treating I**** as one of the boys.

Thank you for loving me the way that you do.

Thank you for holding my hand when we're stuck in traffic.

Thank you for servicing my car.

Thank you for always wanting to be with me.

Thank you for all the times that you stand next to me against traffic when we're crossing a busy road.

Thank you for always wanting to feed me :)

Thank you for letting me be myself.

Thank you for teaching me things that I was always too shy or too afraid to ask.

Thank you for giving me a second chance.

Thank you for trusting me again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Heartache and a stupid move

Thursday, 30 October 2008 @ 10.57am

There are two things that I want to rant about now. The first involves personal feelings that I have been confused about in the last few weeks. And the second is the stupidest move that I have ever made in my 24 years of existence.


I don't know why I feel this way. I don't understand it. You're there. Then you're not there. I'm with you but I feel alone. What the fuck is going on? It's hard enough to see you and when I do I don't see the point of it at all. WTF? WTF? WTF? Why bother meeting if it's just for you to read the paper and me a magazine? Or to watch TV and play games? We were supposed to have that talk. Have you forgotten? You'll never know how I feel because you never read this blog. And I'll never tell you how I feel because I'm fed up of being the one who initiates conversations.

You're pushing me away. And you'll never know that. There's someone else giving me more attention than you. But you'll never see. I'll never do anything to betray you but I feel like I already am. I cannot feel this way anymore. I won't tell you I wrote this. If you never read this, then you'll never know.

A Stupid Move

So I forgot that Palembang is in Indonesia. I'd already bought the ticket for Andre's wedding in July. Little did I realise that the day I purchased the ticket was also the day that my passport expired. No worries right? There's plenty of time to re-new it. Problem is, the flight is this Saturday and it didn't even occur to me that I would need my passport. It was only by a chance conversation that I was having with my father in the car that went something like this:

Papa (P): "So when are you going to Palembang?"

Me (M): "This Saturday."

P: "When are you going to Singapore?"

M: "January."

P: "Have you checked your passport? Make sure it's not expired."

M (frowning in confusion): "I'm going to Singapore in January. I've got plenty more time to worry about my passport."

P: "Hey! If you're going to Palembang this Saturday, make sure that your passport is not expired. If not, how are you going to fly out?"

I was silent. My brain was slowly beginning to understand. Palembang. Indonesia. Out of country. OH. It was only then that I got it. I need a passport to fly out to Palembang. Papa was still nagging to me about the passport. Ooopsss...sorry Andre!

So the point is...I'm not going to Palembang this weekend after all. Quatro anyone?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mrs H

Wednesday, 29 October 2008 @ 11.21am

In my almost two years working at Trix, I have had numerous meetings with Mrs H, the VP of Communications, and her subordinate, Ms I. They are one of our major clients, and one who has been with Trix for about ten or so years. So it's quite safe to say that they've been very happy with our service. Mrs H is very hands on with her work, be it newsletters, posters, buntings, or even a bookmark.

The very first time I met her was about a year and a half ago. I was a freshie out of uni and also a freshie at Trix. It was probably only my third or fourth time out of the office then. Ms I had specifically requested for me to come meet her upon Mrs H's request. When I first stepped into her office, she was sitting at her desk by the computer, busy typing away. She briefly looked up and said, "Oh hi Mr Loh" (obviously referring to my boss). She and Mr Loh have had a long relationship - they have been working together even before she joined this company.

When Mrs H first met me, she was friendly but a little cool, probably sussing me out. During that first meeting, I was sussing out her office. She had windows for her walls. And although the view was of houses and buildings, it's still a fresh relief than the cubicle that I was stuck in for nine hours of the day. She also had lots of pictures - of her and her husband, and of her children. There was one of her in the hospital, holding her newborn with her husband kissing her forehead. You could tell she was a well-to-do woman who was passionate about her job and loved her family.

It was only at our second meeting that I managed to impress her. It was also then that we started building a working relationship. But the only times that we would really communicate were during face-to-face meetings. When I was working on their newsletter/poster/bunting etc., I would only deal with Ms I. Mrs H was the VP after all. I have never been sure of what she thought about me. She's always been friendly and always wanted my opinion. But I would only ever see her during meetings. So it was hard to gauge what she really thought of me.

Earlier this morning, I received a call from Mrs H about the newsletter which is due to be printed by today so we could deliver by next week. Ms I was on leave for the rest of the week and it was the first time that I had to discuss the final comments of the newsletter over the phone with Mrs H. At the end of the conversation, she said, "Can I ask you something?" (I was a little nervous now).

"Sure," I said.

"Where are you going?" (she was referring to my new job)

"Mega Ads." I replied.

"What company is that?"

I explained. Her reply shocked and pleased me all at the same time.

"Ok. When you're there, can you present your company to me? Actually, wherever you go, can you keep in touch? I like working with you and I want to continue working with you."

After thanking her and saying that I would contact her next week once I've officially started my new job, two thoughts struck to me.

1. Wow. This woman actually likes me and I've actually done a good enough job for her to want me to keep in contact with her.

2. YES! I'll be bringing in new business for my new company on the FIRST DAY that I join (bonus, bonus, bonus) AND I have another client I can bring into Kostari (another 4 percent) *rubbing my hands deviously while laughing a satanic laugh*

Not only did I discover that I have been doing a good job during my time at Trix, but I've also discovered that my work ethics as well as my personality (a part of it anyway) was well worth it. Being called Boss No 3 has really paid off.

It's also quite safe to say that that conversation has made my day. Muaahahahahahaha ;D

Monday, October 27, 2008

Anak Datuk

Tuesday, 28 October 2008 @ 12.05pm

I was folding Eddie's underwear when Frank Moore said, "You know Anna, honestly, I like you." I didn't freak out or think that he meant in a way more than a friend. He has Martha Moore after all. After stopping short, I continued folding and said, "Huh?" I didn't understand what he meant or where it came from. Then he said, "I like your style. Your personality. Even though you are who you are, you like to keep a low profile. You don't boast about who you know or who you are."

With a bewildered look on my face, I replied, "How else am I supposed to be?" Frank continues, "No I mean, I didn't even know who you are until we came here and we had to mention who your father is at the guardhouse. Usually, when I meet people like you, they wouldn't be the way you are." I immediately get defensive. "What do you mean the way I am?"

I actually already knew where he was going with it because I'd heard it a hundred times before. People meet me, they get to know me...then they come to my house. Then I get the "I didn't know you're 'anak Datuk'". When Frank said that, it was with such caution and it came out in almost a whisper. It was as though he was saying something taboo. People have always had an image of what an 'anak Datuk' should be like. Hell, even I know what they're like (I purposely say "they" and not "we" because I believe that I am anak Papa. He ain't no Datuk in my eyes).

The description of an anak Datuk goes something like this:

They are the epitome of labels. LV made the smart move of printing their name all over their products as anak Datuk's won't need to mention who they're wearing - it's right there on the bag. ALL OVER the bag.

They are arrogant and feel that they have the right and power to do and say as they please because they're father is a Datuk (eh, fuck you la).

They will only mix and mingle with those who are of the same standing. This is something I do not understand because I think it's bullshit. And it's this perception that I get the, "I didn't know you're an anak Datuk" line. I have anak Datuk friends. And I can safely say to you now that they have looked at me as though I'm some sort of alien because I have friends who are 'normal'.

They will ONLY speak English. Malay is forbidden and only used when forced upon them. They tend to forget that they themselves are Malay and have just as black an asshole as everyone else (I'm getting a little angry writing this. My apologies.)

They don't work because they have some sort of sick belief and thinking that their Datuk father will provide money to them for the rest of their lives (even when their Datuk father is no longer around). I have actually had looks of disgust by anak Datuk's when they find out I have a second job at Get Crafty. If their face could speak, it'd say, "Eeeeww... why are you doing work meant for minions?"

Kampungs are far away places that they don't want to be associated with. If they do, they will arm themselves with laptops and dvds and iPods to kill time instead of appreciating the life there.

Raya (or any other occasion for that matter) is a time to show off. It's a time to display new clothes and jewellery and the latest technological gadgets.

Granted, not everyone is like this and not every anak Datuk is this way. There are plenty of us out there (yes, "us") who work for their money, pay their own debts and help their fathers when he's getting older. But it's rare and it's sad to say that this stereotypical image of an anak Datuk is what is more widely known and used among society as they outnumber the rest of us.

I have nothing against Datuks - at least those who actually earn their way to get their title. I have no problem with these men and women who buy gadgets or houses and properties and "show it off". Hell, they worked their asses off and they earned it. The sad thing is, the Datins and the anak Datuks who are just long for the ride bitch and boast as though they are the ones who earned their way to a title.

I really hope that people and things will change. And I hope that one day people won't look at me and say, "wow, you're an anak Datuk and you're doing laundry." I'm not trying to say anything about our conversation that night Frank. It just got me thinking. You are probably the hundreth person to have said all those things to me and I always feel two things whenever I hear it. 1. I'm glad and I appreciate the fact that my friends have taken time to get to know me instead of wanting to know me because of who my father is. 2. Amused and a little sad. Amused because you all have a look that says, oohh...I have to be careful around her now (but thank God you all forget that and just treat me as normal). And sad because at the end of the day, I am and will always be...anak Datuk (*vomiting into a bucket*).

Friday, October 24, 2008

I wanna go hoommeee...

Friday, 24 October 2008 @ 7.32pm

I've just whinged on facebook that it's Friday night and I'm still at the office and I'm going to whinge here too! It's my second last week at Trix and I've already packed and cleared my desk. I'd brought books to help me pass the time (when I'm not too busy disturbing designers or chit chatting with Ina) and I check my email and facebook account about 25 times a day now. And if you are a tiny part of the world that actually takes the time to read my blog, you'll notice that I'm writing more in my blog now.

Yes, I am THAT free. I thought I was though. Until I got stuck with training my replacement on how to organise, edit, and do the pagination of a newsletter. Sorry SuLyn. I'm not talking bad about you. It's just that BK has the tendency to come in when I'm about to go on leave, or it's the weekend, or that I'm actually about to leave Trix! They seem to be watching me and seeing that I might be a little free, have completed my other jobs and come and plonk this shit on me.

I enjoy doing BK. I really do. I get freedom to choose how many pages I want. What pictures I want to use and what the design of the page should look like. I also get to "direct" photo shoots where I get to turn some colleagues into models for a few hours. It's great fun. Just not when I'm planning to go start my weekend/holiday/leave/resignation!

Anyway, it's now 7.43pm. I'm still stuck here while SuLyn is working out the pagination. It's her first time so trust me, I'm gonna be here a while.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Carrot cake and a meeting

Friday, 24 October 2008 @ 9.24am

I was happily rolling around in my bed and was just about to doze off last night when my phone rang.

"Yang, I'm downstairs."

Half happy and half grumpy, I quickly got dressed and went down to see Eddie sitting outside, smoking a cigarette and holding a bag that had two cakes in it.

"This is for you," he says when he hands me the plastic bag. I look in and he tells me there's carrot cake (which I'm happily eating as I type this) and a blueberry apple crumble type thing. He then immediately asks me what I wanna talk about (this is because I had earlier sent him an SMS saying, "I need to talk to you" - trust me, that line is scary for anyone to hear). I'm brushing it off, telling him that it's almost midnight and I'm already half asleep and there's a lot to discuss.

He then says that he's excited and in suspense to know what it is I need to discuss with him. I tell him that it has to do with our future and what needs to be done from here on out. He's all excited now.

"Ok, tomorrow I finish work at 10," he starts rambling. "We'll discuss it. Write everything you need to discuss. Write down a minutes of meeting. We'll have a meeting then!"

I'm giggling now. Saying that he's crazy trying to set an appointment with me just because I said I needed to talk to him. Oh well, at least I got a carrot cake out of it ;P

Friday, October 17, 2008


Thursday, 23 October 2008 @ 5.31pm

I found out today that my colleague put down a RM30,000 down payment for her car. My first reaction to that was, "Holy mother of God!" How did she manage to do this? By saving money! Sounds simple enough isn't it? She didn't get help from her parents. She didn't work three jobs (as I did when I was saving for my car) and she didn't rob a bank.

In the past, I have tried to save money every month - a little bit here and there and whenever I felt I could afford it. But then I realised that the reason why I cannot save as I'd like to is because of my lifestyle! My colleague managed to save RM30k because she is (as bad as it may sound) a miser. She's faithful to two things outside of work - going to the gym and her Japanese lesson classes. That's it. If she goes out, it's to the mamak where she's really able to save on food. She also has enough left over to go on holidays at least twice a year. However, when she does go, she will only spend on items that she feels are 'cheap' enough. If I saw a baju kebaya that costed RM200, I would take it into consideration, look at the material, label, etc. In the end, I'd buy it. She wouldn't.

I have spent ridiculous amounts on shoes (which I really shouldn't) and I've almost gone hungry for a month when I bought a handbag. But I feel that I've worked my ass off and I deserve some sort of reward. But how do handbags and shoes compare to RM30k for a car? I should really re-look into my whole belief on rewards. Hmm...Can I count books as a good reward? ;P

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I never knew how important one smile or one short burst of laughter can do to improve my day.

I just finished writing my depressing post entitled 'When you feel blue, remember...'. I was sitting here trying to start my work again when one of my designers came to my place. She was holding an empty container of what used to be the chocolate butter cookies that I brought for Raya. With a serious face, she said to me, "Still can re-fill ah?"

I think this was the first time in many weeks where I laughed out loud :)

When you feel blue, remember...

I used to have strength. I used to feel confident. I used to laugh out loud. And I used to look forward to tomorrow. I've never felt weaker, more useless, lonely and sad in my life. I have this piece of paper on my wall that says:

When you feel blue, remember...

There are at least two people in this world that you would die for (I used to think it was worth it)

At least 15 people in this world love you in some way (Name me two)

The only reason anyone would hate you is because they want to be just like you (yeah right...)

A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you (I don't remember the last time I smiled)

Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep (Name me one)

You mean the world to someone (doesn't feel like it)

You are special and unique (I used to think so)

Someone that you don't even know exists loves you (introduce me to that person please, I really need it now)

When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it (and then the bad things starts all over again...)

When you think the world has turned its back on you, take another look (no thanks)

Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks (what good is it going to do me now?)

I always say life goes up and down. When you're up, you feel like you're never coming down. And when you're, you really go down. I used to always feel confident and content because I would always have ONE thing in my life that keeps me going. I have never been in a situation where NOTHING is right. Before, when Calvin was an asshole, I had friends. Or when family was being shitty, I had work. is uncertain. Money is never enough. Family is constantly bickering. Friends are busy with their own thing and Eddie's work schedule SUCKS.

I used to read that and smile because I either had an answer after each one or I would agree with it. Now, I just turn away...

Friday, October 10, 2008

What now?

It's come to a point where I cannot function. I cannot think. My mind is filled with so much nonsense that I find myself sitting here doing meaningless things while the pile of work continues to slowly grow higher and higher. I'm uploading photos on Facebook for a friend. I offered to because then that'll give me an excuse to pass time without having to use my head.

I'm thinking of money. How am I going to get my car serviced? How am I going to continue topping up petrol this month? I can't keep "borrowing" Papa's credit card. How am I going to pay my credit card bill? How am I going to afford a monthly pass for the new job? How am I going to top up my Touch 'n' Go? How am I going to save enough money to convert to Rupiah for Palembang at the end of this month? How am I going to find the money to get a gift for Andre? And how am I going to get another gift for Baiti's wedding present?

I'm thinking of family. When are things going to change? When am I going to finally get a peace of mind? When are people going to start helping out? When will I get to leave? And no, I will not delete any blogs from here on out. You don't like what I say? Stop reading my blog.

I'm thinking of friends. My boys :) You two are the laughter and joy who know what it takes to make me smile. But what's going on guys? I'm here for you. You should know that. My girls. When I need someone to call, to talk, to laugh with, to shop, to simply check out boys with, you're always there. All I need to do is call. But YOU. I never knew that something like this could happen to us. Things are different already and we both know it. I'm keeping quiet and keeping the peace because we have to go to the wedding together. But it's quite safe to say that things will definitely be different after that. How could YOU of all people do this to me? I feel betrayed. Yes, you've helped me. I've helped you too. How and when did things change? Of all the headaches that I have now, YOU are the one who's giving me the biggest one. After all we've been through...*sigh*

I'm thinking of work. Things are uncertain now. Me, an AE? Really? Yeah I can do it. But to be a full-time AE? Really? And to get fired before you're even hired? Talk about kicking me when I'm down... what do I do now? I look at the Classifieds everyday. But I don't know what job to apply for. I see copywriter and this fear of being told you're not good enough creeps up on me. I look at Editor and think really? Are you capable anymore? I don't know what I'm looking for anymore. I once thought that I was a writer. Now I'm not so sure anymore.

I'm thinking of Eddie. Bila? Tahun depan? Can we? Yeah, we're saving money. But it's never really enough is it? *sigh*

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Why oh why would anyone want to try on another person's underwear? Please explain to me. Because I cannot think of ANY rational reason of why a person would want to try on another person's underwear, take it off and PUT IT BACK IN THE DRAWER!

Let me set the scene for you: it's Thursday night. You've only had two hours sleep the night before. You've been working like a mad dog from 9am till about 7pm. You drive home in the rain and traffic. Reach home, eat, accidently fall asleep on the couch while baby-sitting your niece who's playing PS2. You're awoken by your phone that's ringing. Kakak asked me to do something or call someone or asking where someone was...I don't remember. That's when you notice it's almost 9pm. You go upstairs and take a nice long shower. You dry yourself off and open your underwear drawer (btw, I'm an organised neat freak. My underwear is folded and arranged according to style. There's normal cotton, then minis, then panties for period, and finally the lacy ones. Bras and g's are in another drawer). Imagine to my horror when I saw my lacy underwear sitting at the top of the lacy heap, obviously tried on and quickly stuffed back in my drawer. WHO WOULD DO SUCH A THING?

My reaction was to pick it up (at the very tip - God knows who wore it and what disease they might have?) and go straight to my sister's room. After a good five to ten minutes of discussion, we've concluded it can only be the maid. Eeeeeeeeeyeeeewww...

I haven't asked her yet. It's Friday and almost lunch time. Ala Carte has finally opened after a month closed due to it being bulan Ramadhan. I've already ordered my food. So I'm going to enjoy my lunch, finish off whatever work I have for the rest of the week, and head home for a confrontation.

Please God tell me it's not her. I bought that underwear in Melbourne and I don't wanna throw it away. Oh god...what if she tried my g's too? AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


He listens to what I have to say.

He's thoughtful and kind.

He holds strong values and principles that rules his beliefs in life.

He is fiercely protective over his siblings.

He is fierecely protective over me.

He always finds a way to give me what I want.

He ALWAYS gives me what I want.

He manja me, but he doesn't spoil me till it's come to a point where I'm rude to him.

He follows me out of the car when I need to take money out at the ATM.

He loves children.

He opened his family to me.

His family has welcomed me in.

He holds my hand.

He always looks back to make sure I'm not too far behind.

He waits patiently when I go shopping.

He enjoys shopping too.

He holds me when I'm cold in the cinema.

He feeds me food he knows I've never tasted before.

He wipes my mouth when it's dirty.

He tucks my hair behind my ear.

He strokes my hair and kisses my head when we're in line somewhere.

He bought me an anklet when he broke mine. And bought me another one (with more bells) when that one broke too.

He allows me to vent my anger.

He doesn't let me drive.

He makes sure I'm safe when I drive home alone.

He doesn't allow me on his motorbike.

He always knows when I need a hug.

He makes an effort with my friends.

He's willing to go anywhere and do anything for me.

He says no.

He's teaching me things I never knew about my own religion.

He's teaching me Malay.

He's taking the effort to learn English.

He lets me do butterfly kisses on him :)

He lets me hit him on his arm when I'm angry...and he pretends it hurts :)

He loves me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Semester one of my Bachelor of Arts (Media & Communications) degree, I signed up for Psychology 101as an elective. In my very first class, my teacher Natalie handed each and everyone of us a piece of paper with what looked like a poem on it. At the very bottom, there was the name Nelson Mandela. It was an extract of a part of a speech that he had given once upon a time. It was about learning to love the unique characteristics of ourselves, and drawing strength within ourselves to be able to go further and achieve everything that we want. She told us to paste it at a place where we'll look every day. In my uni days, I put it on my wall next to my computer. Today, it's on my wall next to my mirror. Everyday when I'm getting ready for work or play, I read it and feel stronger already. I guess that's where it all began...

There are so many quotes and notes pasted around my computer, desk and wall at the office that all have the same message - work hard and you'll get somewhere, and do what you have to do to be happy. Some include:

- "Favour quality of life above standard of living."
- "If you are going through hell, keep going."
- "Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."
- "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Even my water bottle has a message that reads, "You are who you are, not as what others want you to be." A part of my job is to search for facts and quotes and interesting riddles that I can use to include in newsletters as fillers. Whenever I come across something that strikes to me as relevant in my life, I tend to just write it down and stick it wherever there's space.

I'd never notice the pattern of the quotes until a minute ago. Reading each one over and over again, it seems to give me a sort of encouragement that I feel I need - sort of like a daily (sometimes even hourly) boost. Each one makes me feel as though I'm right on track on the way that I wanna go. But I never went beyond the surface of its true meanings until I realised that I need these quotes to remind myself that I am better than what some think. I am stronger that what some believe. Laugh if you will. Scoff if you must. But I can sure as hell say that I'm living a happier, healthier and fuller life than you.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Do something about it

How do you expect a solution if you don't even make an effort?
How do you expect peace and harmony when you're the cause of the havoc? How do you expect for others to accept you if you jump to your own conclusions?
How do you expect others to want to talk to you if you're unpleasant?
How do you expect a change if you don't even try to make a change?
Why does there always need to be self-pity?
Why does there always need to be an argument?

I hear you. I choose not to respond. I choose to enjoy my life and fill it with meaning. You only get one chance in this lifetime and you better make it a good one.

Life was sweet once. You get everything that you want. But guess what? Life changes. It's like a rollercoaster. When you're high, you're really high, and when you're going down, you go all the way. The only way to enjoy your life, and to have a sense of peace and harmony within yourself, is to choose to do something about it.

Life is a choice. Choose to do something about it. Choose to get better. Choose to be happy. Choose to improve yourself and you'll see that you've made a better choice already :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Raya used to mean just another day to get dressed in baju kurung and wait for guests to arrive. My memories of Raya are limited and few - with most of it being hanging around the living room or kitchen waiting for people to arrive. Balik kampung meant going back to Malacca and visiting relatives. It was just another weekend. I have finally experienced and learned the true meaning of Raya. Following Eddie back to Teluk Intan was truly an eye opener and made me understand what Raya was really all about. Yes, there were still guests who came, but I finally understood what it meant to ask for forgiveness.

I had already expressed my concern to Eddie about following him back home. I had a fear that I would be unwelcomed, shut out and ignored as I had previously seen done to Eddie. He kept reassuring me that everything would be fine and Ayah couldn't wait for our arrival. When we reached, we were welcomed by Ayah, Umie and Eddie's siblings, I knew then that he wasn't lying.

Eddie is always telling me that, "Cara orang kampung lain. Kita ikut adat. Kita tak reti nak cakap buruk pasal orang yang kita tak kenal." I was a little sceptical. Coming from KL, all I knew were fake smiles, sickeningly sweet words before being stabbed in the back with a blunt and rusty knife.

Our first night there, while we were preparing the BBQ, the families started to arrive. First Paksu and Maksu, then Pak Mamat and his family, before Paklong and Maklong made their grand entrance. From a day of knowing exactly who was who and where they came from...suddenly I was lost. I recognised Maksu's family because I had been to her house a few months back. And I remember Paklong because Eddie told me about his heart operation and Maklong because she used to be an Editor too. With Eddie busy with the fish and kerang at the BBQ, I could only guess which child belonged to which parent. My only clue was that one family colour coordinated their baju raya, signifying that they came as one.

While busy helping out, talking to one person to another and being interrogated of my background, Ayah asked Eddie and Paksu (who were handling the BBQ) how long more before the food would be ready. They replied 15 minutes. Ayah then announced that we would have a short tahlil until the food was ready. At the back of my head, I already had the perception that not everyone would take him seriously. But as Ayah settled at one end of the mat that had already been set out for us to dine on, everyone took their places and sat obediently waiting for their 'Wak Man' to start. To my suprise, no one had to be told to sit still. Not even the six-year-old who only minutes before was happily hitting the live kerang that were about to be roasted.

I had never experienced something so spontaneous as to have a tahlil where nobody had to be forced to participate. Everyone knew their role and everyone played along willingly. Hanging my head in shame, I was praying hard that the tears would not fall.

Once dinner was over, I was told to change into my baju raya. They kept saying, "Sekejap lagi kita nak Raya, Kak Anna, cepatlah tukar." As I was changing, I assumed that what they meant was that we would be taking photos. When Eddie told me to take out the duit raya he had prepared and told me to sit next to him in the group that was already slowly forming, I finally understood wat "kita nak Raya" meant.

Paklong and Maklong sat at the head of the group and I saw Ayah salam Paklong, ask for forgiveness before moving onto Maklong. Umie followed suit. When I saw them sit next to Paklong and Maklong, I knew that they were following hierachy. I was unsure of my position. Do I participate? When I knew Eddie was next, I looked to Eddie's sisters for help. As though they'd read my mind, they nodded to confirm that yes, I was next. After I salam Paklong, I waited next to Eddie as I watched him hug Maklong, tears flowing freely from both their eyes. The lump inmy throat was beginning to form, but I shrugged it off. It was silly of me to get emotional. After I salam Maklong, she hugged me and said, "Welcome to the family." Something so unexpected came to me at the time I needed it the most. I hugged her back gratefully and maybe too tightly, as I felt that she was almost falling back from where she sat on the floor. When I had reached Maksu, I took my seat next to Eddie. His eyes were wet and his nose was red. But he was smiling. Now it was our turn to sit and wait as everyone worked their way down from the head of the family - Paklong.

I never knew or understood the meaning of asking for forgiveness until that very night. I never knew that it was such an emotional process that would only bring a family closer. I had never seen so many adults cry, laugh, hug and share at the same time while the children were either too young to understand or to eager to receive duit raya from the adults. I learnt that night that pride and ego had to be put aside for a while, just enough for everyone to be together, to ask for forgiveness and to just grow closer.

I always hear people saying, "Raya means nothing to me. It's just another holiday." I used to be one of them. I used to think that Raya just meant having to entertain people for the day. It also felt like it was almost an excuse to eat 'raya' food. Asking for forgiveness used to mean a quick salam before pretending nothing happened to avoid the uncomfortableness of the situation. Even a salam was left to choice of whether the child wanted to do it or not.

Tradition was something that I thought was something that was old-fashioned and not something that I would have to be a part of. I used to be one of those people who looked down on it. Now that I experienced just a tiny part of this family's annual tradition, I finally understand why people rush back to balik kampung. And why they're upset when they can't return. Having had just one night with this family, I know that if I were to miss it next year, it would be something that I would truly regret. It's because of Eddie and his family that I've finally learnt the true meaning of raya.