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Three Stories of Aidilfitri

Aidilfitri was a simple celebration. The first evening, we dined on roti jala, chicken curry and palak paneer with bits of toast. Dad hadn't returned yet from Qatar. We had work as usual. The week after Dad got home we had a small lunch with our neighbours and a couple of friends. Mom and I spent the better part of a night making the pineapple jam tarts. We like to make them round, and Mom likes to snip 'thorns' over the top with a pair of tweezers. Then I paint on the 'leaves', and she glazes them with yolk and milk. It's somewhat more work than the automatic tart presses, but I think the look of the little pastry pineapples adds to the flavour. Of course, I got a bit upset when the guests kept liking them, but that's what happens when you have guests.

ashilleong stared me into visiting her out on Mt. Lawley, so I had to go, before she accosted me with cable ties. Mt. Lawley makes me miss Star Hill back home. There's not quite as many sidewalk cafes, far too few people out on a Saturday night, just not the same amount of life. It was nice to be in a place that sounded like people and cities for once though. I met her pet walking fish, which reminds me of mokie's pink spider children, and I miss having a small rodenty furry thing around. Woke up the following morning to some old woman screaming at unknown parties over nine dollars, went home, got detoured into picking potted colour, went home again, slept much more, stared some more at my insane work.

Found out from mokie that Moustapha Akkad was among the victims of the Jordanian bombings. I never watched any of the Halloween films, but The Message was one of those things that always showed up on TV around Aidilfitri. For the longest time, it was banned in Malaysia because Islam bans any physical representations of Muhammad. The movie is famous for showing the supposed shadow of Muhammad in a doorway. Physical representations of people and animals in general are frowned upon in Islam even now, and conservative families might go so far as to avoid having photographs and statues of fauna in their homes. During the time The Message was filmed, some of the household conventions we have today were deemed scandalous. Considering the kind of restrictions Akkad faced, his movie remains one of the most amazing attempts at depicting Islamic religious history on film. As a kid, I used to wonder why we had this film that ran nearly 3 hours and seemed to be missing a significant number of it's main cast every year. I still remember the part where Bilal was asked to lead the call to prayer, how bells weren't used because they were too much like the Christian custom, and drums had too much blood. My other memories of it are bits and pieces -- the archers running downhill, costing the Muslim army, the shadow in the doorway, the Christian king who heard the story of Jesus as it was told to the early Muslims, even the belly dancer who had a spear thrown through a ring on her head.

Incidentally, in the original banned versions of Buck-Tick's Rakuen, the sample from the azan used in the song sounds to me specifically like the part of the call to prayer that is the kalimah syahadat: "Ash-hadu al-laa ilaaha illallaah/Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar rasoolullaah" or "I bear witness that there is no god except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." Converts to the religion are required to recite the kalimah, and the same words are traditionally the first a newborn Muslim hears.

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