The different tribes and communities of Muslims each have their own culture, traditions and ways of following the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ibni Abdullah, Sallalahu Alaihi Wassallam.
Here in Malaysia, we have our own different ways of observing the dictates of our faith of Islam based upon each individual state's customs and traditions which have their roots in following what our predecessors put to practice and also based upon each communities ancestral practices.
What would be the norm for folks in Kelantan might seem strange to those living in KL or any other state?
Just like the various local tongues and dialects that each state's inhabitants practice, their ways of observing the basic fundamentals of Ramadhan also varies depending upon how strong each community still holds to practices which their forefathers once established.
As a kid growing up in the Malay kampong in East Jelutong back in the 60s and 70s, I remember the practice of each Muslim family cooking up some unique dish @ family's speciality and then distributing their dish to the nearest neighbors.
The neighbor receiving such a dish would then reciprocate by giving the sender, their own special dish and throughout Ramadhan, that would be the practice.
The spirit of camaraderie and neighborliness would always be maintained and close bonds between fellow villagers would always be forged strong. That was the custom in my kampong, way back then.
Living in Kuala Lumpur is quite different from what life in a kampong was back home in Penang.
Here, I live i in an apartment where as per the norm, each family minds their own business and save for the occasional running in to our immediate neighbors when using the elevators or going down the stairs, one is usually not in a situation to go knocking on another's door except in a dire emergency or need? Indifference, Snob Mentality and 'Ada aku kisah?' weird personalities....
That's what life here in KL is like?
I remember once when we were living in the Ayers Tower, Astaria Condominiums at Taman Kosas, Ampang where the immediate neighbors happened to be Chinese.
As per the lifestyles of condominium living, each never bothered to get to know one another. They used to turn up the volume of whatever Chinese radio stations they were always listening to. I just had to put up with such inconsiderate folks or risk getting into unnecessary tiffs and quarrels!
One day, I returned home to find water filling up the walkways leading to our condo. I investigated the source of the water flowing out and discovered it flowing out from the immediate unit besides us.
So I promptly knocked on the door and after some time, a surly looking Chinese guy opened the door and asked me what did I want?
I pointed out to him that water was flowing out from his condo and flooding the entire walkway. He just nodded and then closed the door.
I said to myself, don't expect any 'thank you's' from someone who looked like belonging to the Chinese Triads and went home, feeling a bit pissed off at the chap's indifference!
Next time, I said to myself, mind my own business and just put a call to the cops so that they will check out as to what was going on in that unit?
The next day, when I was coming home from work, I was a bit alarmed to see a police patrol car with its blue lights flashing parked at the entrance to my condominium block. There were several armed policemen around the area.
When I reached the entrance to my unit, I saw several of the Chinese guys from the next door unit squatting along the walkway, handcuffed behind the backs. Several women who seemed to be Indonesians were also there, but handcuffed to each other.
It turned out to be that those Chinese fellows were indeed members of a syndicate carrying out human trafficking and those women were their victims.
The Indonesian women had been raped and that explains why there was always very loud music being played out almost daily from that unit to drown out the cries and shrieks of those unfortunate Indonesians!
The water flowing out from the unit was an attempt by those Indonesians to draw attention from the condo dwellers and maybe prompt the authorities to investigate.
As it turned out, the condo maintenance unit decided to check out the cause of such waterflow and had contacted the police upon failing to get the unit tenants to open up after several attempts at knocking upon the door!
If not for that clever stunt that those women had pulled, God knows what would else have happened?
Lately, we have been reading about grisly murders having taken place also in the Astaria condominium! Neighbors had called the police after suffering from an awful stench emanating from one of the unoccupied units of the condo.
Turns out that the cops have discovered dismembered body parts and blood splattered all over the unit which they suspect belongs to a pregnant woman and a child, stuffed into the toilets and also in plastic bags containing internal organs hung at the locale!!!
See what apathy causes? We can't really afford to mind our own business when it comes to watching out for our own safety and that of our loved ones when we have neighbors who might just turn out to be evil murderers or clones of the infamous London 'Jack the Ripper' staying next door??? God Forbid!
How I miss the 60s and 70s lifestyle of my kampong when we were all living in relative harmony and goodwill compared to the 'Kiasu' life that most city dwellers here in KL practice without fail!
That's why we always return home to Kuantan to my wife's kampong whenever we can.
As for the reminisces of life in my kampong, it stays fresh in my memory.
In it, I am back to being a carefree youngster, making my 'bintang' @ 'panjut' out of bamboo and decorating the paper covering with Selamat Hari Raya greeting in vivid color and fixing a light bulb inside to make it glow and colorful turning our house into a beautifully decorated home shining bright in the dark nights during Ramadhan!
All that is still fresh in my mind. Living here in the apartment so alike the doves nest that it resembles, makes it hard for me to procure the bamboo that I'd need to make my 'bintang @ panjut' like I once did in my kampong days?
The visuals here (sourced from Kosmo) shows a bintang @ panjut maker using colored transparent material. I used plain matte paper which I would then draw upon and paint using watercolors, depicting images of the masjid @ mosque and Hari Raya greetings and the Islamic calendar year.
The nearest source of bamboo for me living in Cheras, KL would be the Malay enclave of Hulu Langat. I just don't know whether I would be able to go get some in the next remaining weeks of Ramadhan or just let things be as they are?
I'm not a roving kid anymore. Atok Uncle or Tok Mamu ought to just give it a rest, huh? Hmmmm....