Of festivals and feasting


SELAMAT HARI RAYA to all Malaysians and a Happy Eid Mubarak for the rest of the world. Another year of completion of the month of fasting.

I'm on the right in my usual stiff pose. Behind us is Granduncle's kampung (village) house.

Last week we went back to Linggi, our kampung (village, hometown) to celebrate Hari Raya with our huge extended family. How huge? Picture a football-sized field (almost) with dozens of parked cars and a sizeable canopy enough to shield close to a  hundred people from the sun while they enjoyed a hearty feast. I do not know half of the family and I don’t remember the names of the half that I do know. Festivals like these are more often for me just blurred memories filled with laughter (of other people), lots of food and relatives dressed in their best. The part I like best about going back to the kampung is the chance to pet and feed the baby goats that belong to grand-uncle.

It used to be a terrible, tormented time for me because I would keep my hands pressed on my ears to keep out the painful noise and when it got too much I would just sit and cry for hours. Mum refused to stay away or keep me secluded in a quiet room. She kept whispering “it’s alright, we will overcome” as she rocked me back and forth. And I did overcome. By the time I was 5 years old  I was able to join in the festivities without freaking out. The next thing I had to learn was to fight the temptation of  the sweet stuff. It was everywhere I looked, unlike at home where there wasn’t a trace of sugar due to my strict no-sugar diet. You can’t imagine what it’s like to see the spread of mouth-watering desserts and not being allowed to eat it. Of course, the ugly tantrums made its appearance. Relatives told Mum to relax, let the poor kid have some…after all it’s Hari Raya. Mum did not budge. The only exception she made was to allow me the colorful non-aerated drinks…….diluted so much that it tasted like plain water but I was none the wiser.

Road sign named after my great-grandfather

This road is named after my great-grandfather, Dato' Hj Mohd Yusof. A school behind me is also named after him.

On the way home, Dad stopped by a road sign and told me that the school and road was named after my great-grandfather, Haji Mohd Yusof. Wow, I think its cool to have a school AND road named after you don’t you think? Never mind if it’s just a small road in the village. It means my great-grandfather must have played an important role in the community and this is the way he is honored and remembered by the said community. He was known to be a serious, highly respected man whose occupation was then known as  ‘visiting school inspector’. Mum said I may never have a road named after me but hey, I have a blog in my name. That’s pretty cool too.

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” –

Calvin Coolidge, American 30th President of the U.S.A

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“You never monkey with the truth” – Ben Bradlee


Shodo Shima, Japan - Huddled for warmth, macaques press their bodies into a vast ball of fur. The monkeys' relaxed social hierarchy allows high- and low-ranking individuals to share the same tight space. (Yushiro Fukuda)

These macaques keep warm by pressing their bodies into a big ball of fur.

I like this photo lots. I have never seen anything like it. I’ve seen plenty of monkeys (these are macaques actually) but not with funny red faces. What I don’t understand is how they can all press closely together like a big ball of fur. They actually seem to enjoy it!. Mum explains that macaques do that to keep warm because the climate there in Shodo Shima, Japan is very, very cold. I’m glad I’m not a macaque because I would not be able to handle that much of body contact. I guess some of you may know that autistic people  have different levels of tolerance to touch. I enjoy a hug or two even though myposture is a bit stiff. I had to get used to it cos Dad always kids around with me, giving me claps on the back and big bear hugs.

But till today, in about a minute I’m squirming to get away. However, on the morning of Hari Raya (Eid, celebration of completion of the fasting month) I accept the hugs willingly. It feels right. I don’t winch.

A bear hug from Dad

Why?. Maybe it’ s because of the joy in the air and some part of my brain tells me its okay, relax….. today is after all, a special day.

You would think that a guy who doesn’t do hugs all that well would clearly understand the concept of “personal space”. Well it doesn’t work that way. For a very long time Mum had to train me not to stand too close to another person (especially female). It makes that person very uncomfortable or even angry she says. Something about it ‘not being right’. Duh, SOMEBODY TELL THAT TO THESE MONKEYS!!

* Haziq’s Mum here. I try to end each post with a meaningful or humorous quote. Surprisingly I could find only 2 quotes on the subject of personal space. One was more like a cheesy pick-up line than a quote and the other?? Are you ready?  Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant! – May barbarians invade your personal space! ….. Now if that’s not a bone-chilling Latin curse; I don’t know what is.

Footnote: For the rest of us, evolution seems to have programmed this discomfort via a brain structure called the amygdalae, a pair of almond-shaped brain regions deep within each temporal lobe that control fear and the processing of emotion. It’s your amygdalae that keep you from getting so close to another person that he could easily reach out, gouge an eye, and then drag you off by your hair. Be convinced at http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1919910,00.html

Today makes 10


It’s been 10 days of fasting now. I have not missed any even though Mum overslept once and we missed sahur (meal before sunrise). That day was a tough one. The oh-so-hot weather didn’t help either. Mum felt so bad about it but I told her that I understand. She said if I can’t handle it it’s okay to break my fast. But it’s not okay with me to give up…. and I didn’t. So she cooked a grand meal as a reward and more than made it up to me. I ate till I could barely move. Now that’s not such a good idea cos prayers required much bending and kneeling. Needless to say I was groaning with each effort but nobody minded.

Last weekend I had a fun sahur with my family and a load of cousins. They took me to a 24-hour McDonald’s. So there I was eating a GBC at 3 o’clock in the morning in a restaurant FULL OF PEOPLE! You’d never guess it was in the middle of the night. Completely different from my healthy sahur meal of cereal, bread and a 2-0z shot of Vemma vitamin. Later that evening I wanted to break fast at Burger King but Mum said No Way Jose will she eat at two fast food restaurants on the same day. I don’t get it. What’s not to like about that?

Last evening I reminded Mum August 31st was coming soon.  She asked “What about it? Do you want to watch the National Day Parade?”

My parent's 25th Anniversary

Uh, nooo. I meant it’s a special day (Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary) so we should eat out at a nice restaurant. See, that’s the way I always start a conversation when I am planning something in my head. I point out a date, an event or very often I ask a question which I already know the answer to. For some reason some people find this quite annoying. They ask in exasperation “why do you ask a question when you already know the answer to it!!?”. I don’t know. I just do. That’s MY way. The way I see it, the sooner everyone accepts it, the better. So there.

“He who asks qu estions cannot avoid the answers” – Cameroon proverb


With……imagination


Wish you could ride a bicycle ? If you’re like Haziq, with a balancing problem that makes riding a gargantuan task then read on. Here’s a temporary solution for balance-challenged folks like yourselves. Use your imagination says Spongebob and this creative chap below.

Spongebob: With…imagination (makes a rainbow with his hands) ..I can be anything I want! A pirate! Arr! A football player! Hutt
Patrick: A starfish!
Squidward: Patrick, you’re already a starfish.
Patrick: See, Squidward? It works! You try!

I'm using my imagination. Pedal faster, faster

With a little help from my friends


http://www.funnyforgirls.com/2010/08/help.html

I get by with a little help from my friends

Mum showed this picture to me, thinking I might get a little kick out of it. At first I just stared at it and then I realized Mum was playing tricks with me and I laughed. She decided to include this photo in today’s blog since it tickled my funny bone. Mum often asks me to look at stuff just to test my reaction. You see, I often display inappropriate reaction/behavior and she’s trying to fine tune me to the world so that I get to be more socially accepted. For example, I would laugh when someone vomits. Yeah I know…I’ve been told it’s NOT funny. My family used to cringe during movies cos I laughed at all the wrong (as in not funny) parts like the old man getting being beaten by a bully. Last week I laughed at someone who fell down hard while ice-skating. My sister was so upset with my insensitivity even though I apologized repeatedly.  The visual messages get scrambled in my brain, autism kicks in gear and produces the “wrong” response. That’s the simplest way I can explain it.

For the longest time I did not did not possess any sense of humor (which is totally different from the act of laughing).  Now I “get it” once in a while but most things just fly right over my head. Thank God for cartoons. It’s funny when Wile.E Coyote gets crushed by a boulder while chasing Roadrunner even though it must hurt crazy bad. I can laugh whenever I want cos almost every part is funny. No guessing game for me there. In the meanwhile I have to brace myself for more of Mum’s sensitivity training and remember not to laugh at a photo of a shark attack no matter how funny that seemed in Finding Nemo and Shark Tale. Bear with me. I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

What do I do when my life goes astray
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you’re on your own)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna to try with a little help from my friends
– The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967

My fast track to Fasting


I breezed through my first day of Ramadhan, the fasting month. Yesterday I led the family in reading the doa buka puasa. What a far cry from the days of training. Then I could not understand the no food, no drink policy from sunrise till sunset no matter how thoroughly Mum explained the concept. I gave her a hard time. Mum never gave up. When I got older I kinda understood what was expected but it was a more of a follow-by-example exercise. She cooked special foods for “those who fast” and those who did not had dinner a whole hour after they were done. That sucks. She  showered praises and affectionate hugs for “those who fast”.  It got to a point where I could not bear to be in the “did not fast” camp. Even then I kept forgetting and would absent-mindedly open the fridge and reach out for something. Mum had to practically follow me like a shadow to make sure I keep to my fast. She would swoop from behind and grab the food or drink inches from my mouth. Picture this …..an eagle snatching a chicken just outside the coop. That’s how it felt like.

When she left the house she put everyone on sentry duty to keep an eye on me. I don’t recall when I began to understand my religious obligation but I remember completing a whole month of fasting at the age of 11 years. It’s not a big deal cos most kids accomplish that at a much younger age but for me it was a milestone in broadcast to the whole family. When I was fasting while living in Florida it really amazed my teachers and classmates. They thought me “awesome”. Actually it was even easier over there with its cool weather and early sunset at 5pm meant shorter fasting hours.

Yesterday brother was not with us for the first time. I know I’m not the only one who misses him even though I’m the only one who said it out loud. Looking forward to breaking fast with Irsyad tomorrow even if its only for 2 days. Got to go set the table soon and Mum needs help with the dishes so bye for now and wishing everyone a Selamat Buka Puasa.

“Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms-giving procures us admission.” – The Quran

What’s in a name?


Thanks Aunty Anisah for that Islamic Names link that lets me see the meaning of my name. I was told my name meant pandai, clever. Yesterday Mum let me key in my name and it read –  Intelligent, Skillful. I decided I liked this meaning much, much better after Mum explained the word skillful. It was spelled Haaziq though – very much like how Mum calls me when she’s demanding my attention to something (don’t blame her… I drift easily). Well, it’s still my name and I like it.

People may not think of me as intelligent or skillful. Yeah maybe I don’t know a few big words and yeah I struggle 10 minutes just to put on my ice-skates every Tuesday but did you read my post (Dad keeps his promise, Aug 3rd ) on the trip to the zoo?. My sister also liked the meaning of her name – Rare, Unique. I don’t know what’s so rare about her. All I know is that she rarely folds her clothes until I’m in her face. Mum tried her name too but found it didn’t mean much – Nature, Habit. ???. I think secretly she was hoping to see something like Wonderful, Captivating. Not satisfied, she typed in her other name. Oddly, she does have two names, one officially documented and one which every relative and family member calls her. Anyway, what did that other name reveal? – Noble origin, Pure. Ooooh this one she likes! She used to joke with Dad that she probably came from a long bloodline of Minangkabau princesses and that explains why she doesn’t like to toil in the kitchen. Princess or not, I know in my Mother’s eyes I am as noble as a prince.

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.– Confucius