I’ve mentioned before that I have a Big Freaking Malay Family in my entry, Aidil Adha gathering.
Here comes the encore; Blessing Kak Dilla’s New Home. The rules of conduct are the same; bring family, bring food, bring gossip.
Craaaaaaaaap. But it’s still my favorite kind of crap.
Kak Dilla is my mother’s eldest brother’s second daughter; for short, she’s my first cousin. One of the eldest cousins to get married in Clan Jailani (shame-shame on my still unmarried brother, *Arsenal, the oldest of the 3rd generation), she, her husband, their 2.3 kids and their kitchen sink had been living in this small apartment next to the noisy NKVE (New Klang Valley Expressway for you foreign readers).
Now they have a real home; a small one-storey semi-detached house next to a noisy ironworks factory. If it weren’t for the driving distance and the good-sized plot of land, it’s not much difference from their old home. Literally.
As usual, there's never enough hallways to stuff people in.
Back to the new house. Kak Dilla’s husband’s family also joined in the fray but it’s not as a huge turn-out as the Aidil Adha gathering; but it’s still big enough to loose a baby in.
Namely, this baby.
At nine months old, the youngest and newest addition in Clan Jailani (until May 2008, when my sister’s second baby’s due), Kak Dilla’s baby, BigEyes, is very quiet, observant, tends to crawl everywhere on his own and does weird habits like laughing loudly every time someone flushes the toilet.
Mohd. Soleh, dubbed BigEyes. Oh, and that’s my brother, Genius, in the background, looking for his socks amidst 143 shoes.
There was a panicked 30 seconds when every responsible adult had assumed the other responsible adult was watching the baby. It turns out BigEyes was, yes, in the bathroom, laughing every time his two cousins flushes the toilet.
After the noon ritual prayers, every body takes position and a holy book. The idea was the fill the new house with the reading of the Al-Quran, so that the white walls echoed. You don’t need an imam to bless someone’s house, just a group reading aloud from the book and a leader to direct the prayers.
There’s no need to read aloud all 114 chapters (that’s the job of the accorded household living in the house for the next so-and-so years), just as much of the book and the time you have as you can get a large group of people to do it. The After-Haji party.
Each able-bodied family member grabs a chapter of the Al-Quran and reads aloud, so the house gets blessed.
And it gives the excuse for the older family members to check on which responsible young adult had been reading the Al-Quran diligently... and nag them.
“Hey, tak betul bacaan tu! Tengok tajwid, jangan leka!”
So after the long-winded reading and the continued blessing and the procedural bru-ha-ha-whatever, then comes the next event.
As Clan Jailani’s from Johor, what else but to serve Laksa Johor? Yum, look at the long line.
Okay personally, I’m not into Laksa Johor. Or any other kind of laksa. Put me in the Laksa Shack and I’ll starve to death. It’s a genetic disorder (my uncle and one other aunt couldn’t stand laksa either and they’re from Johor). Luckily for my plate, there are fruits, cakes, sandwiches and a healthy order of hot meehoon soup.
Clan Jailani in all our eating habits glory.
Once everybody had been stuffed, stinking of laksa breath and baby BigEyes secured in his priso-, I mean playpen, then comes the family discussion. PakSu was supposed to bring his high-tech projector and laptop and show it off on Kak Dilla’s nice blank wall but he forgo the equipment (must be because the risk of the ‘little people’ stampeding everywhere) in exchange for nice printed documents.
The children of Allahyarham Haji Jailani, aka Yayi Board Members (yayi is grandfather in Javanese), brought out all the usual things they didn’t get to discuss on Aidil Adha gathering, along with several new updates.
From her Johor trip, Mak reported that Bibik (Yayi’s youngest sister) is doing fine with her son’s family, though her eyesight is really, really failing and that she tires more easily (she must be about mid 80s at least).
But she still insist on serving her special tea herself every time the KL family comes so Mak remembers to NOT CALL before arriving (surprise!), lest Bibik tries to turn on the stove and serve the glass cups with her bad eyes and bad back.
Beyond that, the usual. Money from the pineapple farm goes into the Jailani Fund, Bibik’s grandson is doing well in Colorado, USA and Cik Jah (my aunt with Down-syndrome) is sticking around Pontian, Johor for a while longer to renew cousinly ties.
All and all, the usual family discussion. Although I wasn’t really needed to be in the discussion, I try to keep up-to-date with the family’s, er, gossip. Mak’s siblings are an army of grandparents or soon-to-be grandparents. Just in case anything happens, I feel like I want to make sure I know how the connection goes and who to turn to in any emergency.
That sort of thing. It’s really a feeling of responsibility. . Nobody is in prison, nobody is in drugs, nobody is physically disabled and nobody had a major life-altering road accident. The Clan Jailani has grown and prospered and maintained a beautiful network, a very far cry from Yayi’s own history in the Japanese-Occupied past
For myself, the big family thing sucks. Sure it’s large and dandy and whatever-fancy, but we got lost between Sungai Buluh and Meru while on the way and found ourselves stuck in construction-induced traffic jam for an hour.
Everybody’s so freaking busybody (“Okay, okay! I’ll fix my tajwid. I promise to read the Al-Quran more often too.”) and always want to know if anybody found a new girlfriend or boyfriend yet. Seriously, my Aunt No. 5 actually declared this aloud to a comfortably chatting group, making it sound like it’s a life or death situation.
Also when not going Dutch, the main food is always Laksa Johor (which I hate) and nobody can keep a real proper eye on anybody’s baby (I think BigEye’s a budding mad genius... or a plumber) and so they al blame ME because I wasn’t occupied doing anything (and also that I’m in my twenties and unmarried; aunts trying to scare me of my future).
Next family’s gathering coming up anytime now. Maybe sooner than later.
But it’s still my favorite kind of crap.