Thursday, 17 September 2009

A noisy celebration

If you live in a Malay kampung like I do, you would have definitely felt (or rather, heard) the celebratory atmosphere in welcoming the Hari Raya. I am talking about children (and sometimes adults too) who light up fireworks and firecrackers after the breaking of fast.

Every night you can hear the whizzes, pops, bangs and booms of various types of firecrackers. Some of these things give such loud explosive noises that even set off car alarms. It surprises me sometimes that Malays can be playing more fireworks than Chinese. Mengalahkan orang Tionghua sambut tahun baru.

Call me a spoilsport, but I don't really approve this main mercun activity. I don't mind the sparklers but the noisy ones are a pain in the butt. At least, there is an underlying cultural reason when our Chinese friends light up firecrackers. For us Malays, what reason is there... except just for pure fun? Every year during Ramadan, I would wait for news of the first fireworks casualty. More often than not, it would be a young boy from a kampung on the east coast. Stories of missing fingers and burnt hands, mostly.

The selling of firecrackers is supposed to be illegal but I see a few vendors openly trade their stuff at the Ramadan bazaars. The array is quite mind-boggling and come in fancy names and sizes. They sell Thunder Cap rockets, Dragon Eggs, Super Pop, Mini grenades, Starburst, Flying spinners and whatever else have you.

I have never bought any for my children but that did not stop my youngest son from buying them on his own. Last year, he set aside some of his pocket money to secretly buy some firecrackers from his friends. He brought the firecrackers along when we balik kampung at my in-laws home in Mersing. Since there would be other cousins who would be playing the firecrackers, it would be difficult for me to object.

One afternoon, on the third day of hari raya I think, he came into the house to ask my sister-in-law for some minyak gamat (ointment) to apply on a cut on his palm. He told his mother that he got the cut from a fall while playing at the rear compund of the house. I wasn't shown the injury directly but looking at it from distance, I suspected my son was not telling the truth. But I did not press the matter because there were many other relatives around.

The next day, his wound did not get any better and overall he looked a bit feverish. My wife started to worry and wanted me to bring my son to the hospital. I asked my son what really happened. At first he stuck to his story of getting the cut from a fall but then, one of the younger cousins spilled the beans by telling that my son got hurt when a firecracker exploded in his hand before he could throw it away.

I grilled my son on this and he broke down in tears, admitting his fault. I was angry with him, not because he got injured but because he lied. As punishment, I confiscated the rest of his fireworks stock and withheld his raya angpow.

My wife and I then took him to the hospital for treatment. The Hospital Assistant who did the dressing, asked my son how big the firecracker that exploded was. My son replied that it was the size of a small marble.

In jest, the HA responded, `Alaa... kecik aje tu. Lain kali main yang besar terus. Biar power habis!'

16 comments:

Rina said...

Teringat petikan novel hasil karya yang sudah uzur dari Othman Puteh. Lebih kurang begini bunyinya:

"Jangan beri (hadiah) anak-anakku permainan-permainan itu baik mainan senjata, pistol kertas atau apa jua yang sama kegunaannya. Aku tidak mahu anak-anakku seumpama itu."

3yearshousewife said...

Ye lah. Bdk2 melayu skrg nih kl main mercun kreatif nya yg bukan2.
I remembered my playing bunga api as a child. It was so much fun and safe. Not much of imagination involved except for writing selamat hari raya in the air. Thought of recreating that every raya with my children to which my hubby doesn't approve. Spoil aje.

D said...

When we were young, our parents would buy some fireworks for us - the normal sparklers, rocket and rainbow (one which shot 10-12 different colours one at a time). My older siblings will ration it so that it would last till the last night. :)

Today, the fireworks played are mainly the noisy ones, which I disapprove. I think it's mainly a 'boy' thing.

Salam Eidulfitri Oldstock!

mamasita said...

O sedihnya cerita pasal your son's bad experience main mercun..he was very innocent..taktahu how dangerous it was main mercun.I had a bit of watery eyes bila bayangkan dia simpan duit nak beli sendiri.Last2 sampai suffered a bad wound.And he had to lie because dia tahu you all mesti marahkan dia..haa..so touching!

masterwordsmith said...

Dear Oldstock,

I totally agree with your stand re fireworks. I only buy sparklers for my son and I disapprove of people playing with dangerous fireworks.

I am so sorry to hear about your son's accident and am glad that he is ok now. Certainly, this lesson learnt will empower him to be a better son and a better father in the future.

Once, someone's fireworks exploded and damaged the windscreen of my husband's car and at that time, we did not insure the windscreen and it cost a bundle to replace it.

Anyway, on a brighter note, I hope you and your family will have a wonderful time celebrating Hari Raya Puasa together.

Selamat Hari Raya Puasa.

Salam,
Paula

Snakebite said...

frankly i am in two minds about firectrackers. i know it is imported (bukan curi haa) culture from the chinese but at the same time it make hari raya so meriah and memorable. some of my fondest memories are playing mercun during hari raya in the kampung. thru mercun we made new friends and if you balik kampung without mercun, you are like tak boleh masuk gang.

i don't encourage my kids to play mercun but at the same time i know it is futile to stop them. they will only lie behind our back. my inlaws are in kedah. mercun are everywhere because of the porous border with thailand.

but i must admitt, the sophistication and power of those thai mercun do scares me. it is not like the like the mercun papan from china with a picture of a chinese lady in long flowing baju that i played when i was a kid.

selamat hari raya ma'af zahir batin stock

Zendra said...

Oldstock,

Memang bukan raya tanpa mercun only that hubby used to let the kids play the safer ones when they were little.

Salam Aidilfitri to you and yours.

pakmat said...

..salam raya, oldstock..

..pengganti meriam buluh..cheap and easy and easily available..as our Imam said when some kids lighted a big boom during terawih..nak buat guano..selamat hari raya...

Oldstock said...

Salam Rina,

Nampaknya nak kena cari novel Othman Puteh ni...

Oldstock said...

3yrhwife,

Eh, tak kan your hb tak kasi main bunga api. Tak seronok la macam tu :-)

Oldstock said...

D,

One reason I've never bought fireworks (except for the relatively harmless sparklers) is that some of by brothers-in-law would somehow get their hands on some of the loud ones. The children would then enjoy the sight and sounds of the fireworks for the first few nights of raya at our kampung home. Then, I'll just become an observer.

Oldstock said...

mamasita,

Yes, you're right. My son had to lie at first, because he was afraid of getting scolded.

But during the grilling, I told him that yes, I would be angry if he had told me the truth the first time I ask. But my anger would be short. Telling a lie would mean getting more of my anger. I hope he has learnt his lesson.

Oldstock said...

Paula,

My son was trying to put up a brave front by acting that the injury was a small matter. The fact that we were in a house full of other relatives saved him from a more severe tounge lashing. But I have to admit that sometimes things have to be learnt the hard way.

Sorry to read about your unfortunate encounter with a firecracker.

Thanks for the wishes. You enjoy the holidays too.

Oldstock said...

Tok,

Certain times we cannot be too overprotective of our children, otherwise they may end up being too timid in trying out new things. I'll let my kids play mercun but I do not buy them. Let some of their uncles spend money to buy the firecrackers.

Selamat hari raya to you too, tok. Balik Kedah ke Pahang?

Oldstock said...

Zen,

I guess it is hard to fight tradition. Sure every kid likes to main mercun. But my worry is that I see more dangerous ones being available each year.

Salam aidilfitri to you and your family too. Orang KL takde balik kampung kat mana-mana kan? :-)

Oldstock said...

Pakmat,

Ye lah.. nak buat guano. Kalau tak bagi main, pandai je bebudak ni cari alternatif.

When I was a boy, I watched my cousin and his friends play meriam buluh. They enjoyed the loud boom but I didn't think it was fun.

Salam aidilfitri to you Pakmat. Hope this raya would be a happy one for you and your family.