I know Hari Raya mood is definitely on as the number of readers to this blogsite has dropped dramatically over the last couple of days. Last Saturday, the number was 449 and yesterday it was 455. The last time it was this low, I have to go back to August. Anyway, blog reading is probably pretty way down everybody's list during Hari Raya. And blogging is also way down my list judging by the unpreparedness of today's blog. So today, I think the only people reading this are those not in Brunei and not celebrating Hari Raya or even if you are celebrating it, I know the experience will not be as nice an experience compared to celebrating at home. But that's only short term, I am sure once you are done studying, you will be celebrating all the Hari Raya you want at home.
Last night for some reason, I remembered how awful my Hari Raya was in my student days. One Raya, I spent up on the plane flying back to Brunei - in the 80s, Hari Raya was around June. Another Raya, I spent for my Law Part I Finals examination. I remembered greeting everyone I met just outside the exam hall wishing everyone Hari Raya and some even replying, today is Hari Raya? That was how stressful and uneventful Hari Raya was. But mostly my Hari Raya in UK was very uneventful and I didn't even visit anyone apart from a couple of Malaysian students' houses. The university I was in hardly have any Bruneians and we were about 3 hours intercity train ride away to London, so even a trip to London was not worth it.
In the mid 1990s when I was back as a student in America (I was the one and only Bruneian then in Boston, the nearest other Bruneians were the diplomatic people in New York, some 400 miles away), my Hari Raya lasted half a day. It was miserably cold and the snow was six inches thick and the river froze. My wife and I spent the morning of Hari Raya preparing food for my fellow student friends and we spent the afternoon walking around campus. In the evening, my student friends came and it was a standing up affair. I only had a one bedroom apartment with 30+ people squeezed into it. That was our Hari Raya, 2 hours of it.
In the 1970s, when I was a secondary school student in Singapore, Hari Raya was at least celebrated widely there. So it wasn't as bad - we had our Raya prayers in the Brunei Hostel there with all the Brunei students. We were at least able to visit the Brunei staff and other staff houses. But flying home was not an alternative. Most in the 1970s are not as well off as students of today even if we were just in Singapore.
I guess times have changed. Judging by the various sites run by Brunei students overseas and the photos being posted up, students of today are luckier. Most of you would have stayed in places where there are lots of friends and most can now afford to fly home to, if time permits. If you are abroad and you are reading this and are unlucky enough not to be able to fly home, I am sure you will try to enjoy your Hari Raya. A couple of tears in the morning is the most you should allow yourself, after that, hei, your friends are there and they are in the same boat as you are - miserable and trying to be happy at the same time.
But most importantly, your family and we all in Brunei remembers you. There are many conversations I have had with parents who talked about their children being overseas and wished their children were able to fly home to celebrate Hari Raya at home. So even if your parents don't tell you, deep down their Hari Raya is also different with you not being around.
On that note, Selamat Hari Raya to eveyone who took the trouble to reading this and all the blogs I have typed in since mid December last year. Saya pohonkan kemaafaan daripada semua, apa yang tersalah blog, tersalah type and especially to espeed people, I am asking for your forgiveness (for some reason, my espeed over the last 2 weeks have been working fantastically - no disconnection whatsoever). Like what they say, what is good comes from the All Mighty and what is bad comes from me. SELAMAT HARI RAYA MAAF ZAHIR BATIN!
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