‘WITH IT, COMES SOME SACRIFICES’ by Nur Aliya Yeoh

Cheng Beng Chinese Festival
It’s the month of March.
Grandma’s birthday. Cheng Beng festival, the time when most Chinese visit their family members’ graves.
And again, I’m not involved.
Grandma chose to neither inform nor invite me over for her 90th birthday celebration, although it’s only about 30 minutes’ journey to her home. I guess she feels it’s better for me not to attend.
Me in my tudung, haha.. That hurts a little because I used to be close to Grandma before my divorce [before this second marriage to husband].
Well, I wished her  a happy birthday anyway, when I called her up a few days later.
Her birthday gift? Still in the bag, waiting to be given on the next trip home. [several phone calls were unanswered so I had to postpone visiting her during the school break].

I’m not going for Cheng Beng either.
As a Muslim, it’d be odd for me to attend although it’s still permissible. I can just stand and watch them, not able to take part in any of the religious ceremony. Besides, people will talk and stare if they see a tudung-clad woman at the cemeteries..

So, again I’m not invited, hahaa.. because I’m now a Muslim.
Grandma still think and inform people who care to listen that I’ve become ‘one of them’, meaning that I’ve turned into a Malay. Of course, she’s wrong but how do you correct a 90-year-old matriarch? Wiser to just remain silent.
I believe that I’m not the only Chinese Muslim n this country who faces these problems.
It’s difficult to join in family gatherings and activities when one reverts to Islam.
Some people prefer to have non-halal feasts, and as a result, choose to leave out inviting the ‘unfilial’-now-Muslim son or daughter. Even for the annual Chinese New Year eve feast.
And we, the Muslim reverts, often remain quiet and patient, knowing that any question would just cause more friction.
Small sacrifices in the name of Islam.

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