"Invitations to this.. invitations to that.. but I haven't promised them anything," he came home and told me.
And I swore under my breath.
Heck, I'm only human. And the news received was not a welcoming one. Rather, it's a bother in this Chinese festive season.
And I don't like people asking me, "So you celebrate Chinese New Year too?"
Of course I do, and I intend to.
Do they think that just because I'm now a Muslimah, I can simply forget about this festival which I've celebrated for the first 35 years of my life? Chinese New Year is not a religious festival; you can forget the Tao/Buddhist prayers and still celebrate it. Christians and free-thinkers celebrate it too. It's a time for the gathering of family members under one roof once a year. That's why the Chinese would sacrifice time and money to travel from one end of the country to the other end just to be present at the festive dinner held on the eve of the New Year. Being present at home, with your elders is a sign of filial piety, respect and a show of 'giving face' to our elders.
Don't even think about taking turns to go to which spouse's family home for the New Year eve dinner. It's always the husband's family on the eve and first day of Chinese New Year. Unless of course, the husband is an orphan. Tradition dictates that a married couple will spend the first day of CNY with the husband's family and the second day with the wife's family. Actually it's a fair arrangement because it allows both sides of the family to meet the couple during the festive season, unlike Malays who take turns and one side of the family will have to wait for another year to celebrate Aidilfitri with the children and grandchildren.
I had planned some activities for this year's Chinese New Year but as my house isn't ready, I'd have to postpone everything until a later date. As I'm writing now, I'm still not sure how this year's celebration will be. Naturally there won't be any "questionable" decorations in my house. InsyaAllah, there'll be a halal Chinese cuisine for lunch. That too, if I'm not alone this 26th. It's no fun cooking for myself alone. And yes, I'd most probably be alone.
I miss the fun and catching up with the rest of my extended family members during this festive season. Honestly I haven't met them since I reverted to Islam. Usually after the giving of angpows (red packets with money) and gifts, we'd sit at the lounge and exchange the latest news, to be continued the following Chinese New Year. I wonder how frail my grandmother is now, how big my nieces are now and where my cousins are studying now. I'd love to meet them again but I can't meet them alone; it's too risky, emotionally draining (in case I'm snubbed or scolded) and I doubt I'd be able to drive home after the meeting. As everyone is home only on Chinese New Year, if I don't meet them this year, it'd have to be postponed till the following year. I'm such a coward; I don't dare to face my still-negative-towards-Islam relatives alone. Reverting to Islam has caused me to be shunned by relatives. A small sacrifice? You tell me.
My first Chinese New Year as a Muslim saw me alone in my hostel block during the festival, as I didn't have anywhere else to go to. Don't even ask I coped that year.
My second year was alhamdulillah much better. I plucked enough courage to invite my mother and brother for a steamboat dinner on the eve, and had a quiet celebration with my husband at home.
This year? Thanks to the festival held on Monday and Tuesday, and plans that do not involve me but my husband, I'd most probably be alone at home. I don't even know what to do now. I certainly don't want to be alone during this festive season. It's not good for me, emotionally and spiritually. I know my self.
Oh sure, some will argue, "It's not compulsory for you to celebrate it now, you're a Muslim now."
"Yeah, right. I'm a Muslim and I'm a Chinese too. Chinese New Year is not compulsory for me to celebrate but it's still not wrong for me to do so. I miss celebrating it as a non-Muslim. Yet I know the limits; what I can and can't do as a Muslim. Sadly, due to circumstances I shan't disclose here, I haven't yet experienced the warmth of a real family celebration during Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji, so please don't blame me for wanting to celebrate Chinese New Year the Muslim way with my husband."
So don't blame me for swearing under my breath. As it is now, I leave everything to Allah swt. I'll seek help from Him who is all Knowing and All Fairness. I don't believe my hope to spend CNY with my husband and my family this year is too much nor too selfish, but each person has his or her own perspective. If I'm seen as complaining, so what? If what I see as injustice and there's nobody to help to set things right, what other channel do I have but to express my thoughts in writing? If anyone reading this don't like it, well.. don't continue reading.
As a revert Chinese Muslim, I don't want to be reminded of the sacrifices I've made to be a Muslim, espcially not during this season. Not when everywhere I go I hear festive songs, everywhere I go I see happy faces but I'm to spend the first day of CNY alone in my house? Those who arent' reverts won't understand. Not unless it happens to them themselves.
Put yourself in my shoes.
Walk a few miles in my shoes, and tell me how you'd feel.
I know I trust Him to set everything right.
But I can declare now - I don't want another big test..not this CNY please..but it seems I'd be tested as well.
(note: Sorry, I am not against any Malay Muslim NGOs, which I know, have their own agenda. My husband has his own personal agenda this CNY which unfortunately doesn't include me. I'm just disappointed with the way things turn out this CNY, and with the way plans are made. As I mentioned, I'm only human, and am specially sensitive come every Chinese New Year. You'd know if you're denied spending your Hari Raya with your spouse or your family. And I stand my ground. I resent being left alone on the 1st day of Chinese New Year until the 3rd day, but as a wife I will obey. However, I know that what goes around comes around.. justice will prevail in the end )