15 September 2010

Selamat Hari Raya- unity in diversity

After many years of not being able to celebrate Hari Raya (eid-ul-fitr) with my Muslim side of the family, I finally got the chance this year. My mom's cousins, the uncle and aunties, have aged well and they could hardly recognize me. Well, the last time I saw all of them was when I was about 10 yrs old. Living away from home somehow has distanced me from them.

It was a pleasure to be with them once again. Indeed, blood is thicker than water. One of the aunts asked me whether my brother the priest has safely come home. She said when she saw the wars at other countries on tv she kept thinking and worrying of relatives who were far away. And her face lighted up when I told her that my brother is safe and sound, serving at one of the churches in KK. The conversation might seem weird to people who are of not a diverse-belief background, but to us it is natural. My muslim aunt is proud to have a nephew who is a priest because she's hoping for him to do good to humanity.

The uncle emphasized on the importance of being tolerant and be united for the sake of our safety in this country. These simple folks might never have been away from their homeland, but they've seen enough war reports in the media to appreciate their peaceful home. Uncle said, "when you pray, pray for the safety of our country. May we always live in peace". And then he went on to say, " it is my ritual to advise the young people of my staff members to pray, always for safety, if you are a muslim, pray the muslim way, if you are a christian, pray the christian way, and if you are a traditional dusun, when you momurinait (praying), make sure you ask the Minamangun (Creator) to keep our land safe".

I'm glad I have managed to get to know the extended family once more. I remember before Hari Raya, my late grandmother came to me in a dream and told me to find the Muslim side of the family. I realize that on my grandmother's side, the dominant religion embraced by the family members is Islam. It looks like I have a bit of a research to do, and a lot of unknown family members to find...

12 September 2010

Kitimbok Tinggur Bulawan

Hubby accidently came across this song in youtube today. As I have listened to it a few times on air, I asked him to look for the lyric and the singer for me. The lyric, to someone who had had the chance of knowing a very Dusun grandmother and her cohort, is very beautiful. It revolves around the Dusun's olden day rice-planting culture- about a man who stands on a log, and from a distance sees his sweetheart standing out from the crowd because of the timbok tinggur bulawan (Malay- Cucuk Sanggul "traditional hairpin") that she wears. I guess in the olden days that's how they identified 'the one'. Now I've never actually known what 'tinggur bulawan' means, except that it means a special type of hairpin that once upon a time was precious to a Dusun woman.

When I listened to the song further, I found that not only the lyric praises the beauty of a woman, but it also relates how the sunlight helps the rice to grow well, and the singer's plea for the rice to produce a bounty harvest because rice is his (the people's) source of strength. My grandmother and her friends used to say riddles and traditional poems using the same kind of wordings whenever they were having a mitatabang (helping each other in the farm) session.

Originally I thought the beautiful voice belonged to a lady, but actually it belonged to a boy. As hubby and I read the comments left by viewers of the song, we realized that the singer lost his life to thalassemia last year. May his soul rest in peace. He might no longer be here in this world, but he left a beautiful legacy to the Dusuns. Sakril Sidik, rest in peace.