Monday, July 26, 2004

Losing the essence

I've lost it I think. The ability to write about nonsensical stuff. Maybe it's cos I have heaps of things swarming around in my head, and I don't know where to start.

Going back to that quaint little town is always odd. It's like a love-hate feeling. I hate Alor Setar for many reasons - family politics, the damn mosquitos as a result of acres and acres of paddy fields, the small-town mentality of relatives, the town which has nothing to offer. But I also love it because the food is good, because it is nice to once in a while get away from the bustle of KL and just indulge in slow moving traffic and a leisurely pace of life, and because the family history originates there.

Surprisingly, the mood in the family wasn't all that sombre and depressing despite a funeral going on. All the rituals and funeral proceedings were, in my opinion, done out of obligation, respect and tradition. In the end, I think we more or less treated it like a huge family gathering in that huge bungalow where we would sit around, talk, listen to stories told by our elders, eat a whole lot and even laugh and joke around.

I wonder... all the formalities, all the rituals that we were doing - I don't understand them. Sometimes I question "Why?" and Mom would brush me off by saying, "Don't ask why, just follow!" It's funny... OK, we had these nuns at the house for a few nights consecutively and they were chanting their scriptures and whatnot, and we were supposed to be seated together for a 'mass prayer' session. But because we don't know what they are chanting about, and because these sessions are boring and ridiculously long, we would often chat and joke as we sit there holding on to our joss stick. Or, what about those sessions where we had to walk around the coffin of gramps as the nuns chant.. We would be so tired as these proceedings go well into the night, and as we walk around the coffin, I would be thinking, "Damn, I'm so tired!"

I know I'm not alone. We would complain to one another - "How boring!", "Oh this is so tiring!" or, "When is this gonna end?" So there. I mean, we do it - but yet, we're not actually DOING it you know? All the superstitions, the dos and don'ts of it all... It left me rather perplexed. But having said that, I will still do it - out of respect for tradition, out of respect for my parents, out of respect for the dead.

As we click our way into the digital age, it is reassuring to see that old traditions are still preserved. However, it is also sad to see that the it is not exactly 'whole' anymore for I think the more we advance, we lose a major part of the essence of old cultures and traditions along the way.

Posted by Doreen at 2:37 pm