One day after work last Syawal, as I reached the elevator to my apartment and was waiting for the doors to open, a few neighbouring kids suddenly hovered around me asking if they could come over to my house for Raya.
I stopped short at the unexpected proposal. I assumed that the kids were around 6 & 7 years old but I mean, did I even know them? Well, ok maybe that question is not relevant when it comes to Raya but when did this happen? When did coming over for Raya become a proposition made by strangers at elevator doors? I couldn't help but gave in to my surprise while letting my brain regain consciousness.
Seeing that I took awhile to decide, one of them tried to force a Yes out of me and as a matter-of-factly said "Boleh la 'Achik'", while pushing themselves in between the closing elevator doors to get in and join me.
Feeling ambushed, I gently told them that I was tired, that perhaps next time would be a better time.
As I got to my floor and the doors opened, I stepped out thinking that I must have disappointed them and that they'd run home and tell their mothers how sinned I was. Instead, I realized that my refusal did not at all deter them from following me to my doorstep!
"Kalau cam tu, Achik kasi duit je lah."
That's it! That made me feel like pulling them by their ears and dragging them to their doorstep while bitching about them to their own mothers! "Ni anak Akak ke ni? Akak tau tak anak Akak ni dah menconteng arang pada memori Hari Raya saya masa saya kecik-kecik dulu? Itu belum lagi saya bukak cerita pasal adab ziarah-menziarahi jiran tetangga. Hah, hari Raya macam ni, masa saya dulu mana ada mintak-mintak duit dengan orang ni Kak oii! Ini kan pulak main tunggu and mintak tepi jalan je. Ye ni anak Akak ni? Ke anak angkat? Lain benor perangainya! Ye lah...memang lah ada masa nya saya pun merasa jugak dapat duit Raya kat depan pintu tak sempat nak masuk makan kuih semperit tapi at least tuan rumah yang bagi alternative tu, bukan saya! Kalau arwah Umi saya tau ni, mengucap panjang dia Akak tau?"
As I in-reality actually got to my front door, I turned around and said, "Kalau betul nak datang Raya, buat cara nak Raya. Balik umah, tukar dulu t-shirt dengan seluar pendek ni, pakai baju Melayu, pas tu datang balik. Time tu baru Aci-aci ni bukak pintu! Boleh?"
They went quiet and just stared at each other.
And never came back.