In my Chinese family, we have Christians, Muslims, Taoists, self-proclaimed Buddhists, agnostics and atheists.
Self-proclaimed Buddhists, because any version of Buddhism with deities confuses me. I always thought that Buddhists pray to no God. But it's not my religion, so whatever, man.
Some of my uncles and aunts worship the God of Wealth and the God of War. That last bit cause he was in the police force, killing Communists. That uncle died recently. He was a tough guy.
We got some relatives in Singapore. They came by several years back. I hardly remember them. Our surname is Fong, and the ideogram for the character looks like the Japanese kanji for horse. The Singaporean branch's surname is Nyan.
The atheists and agnostics have the most fun, though.
Every Chinese New Year, they'd rib the traditionalists.
"Stupid. Cannot clean the house during new year. What the hell? Dumbass."
One of my favourite uncles would offer me beer every Chinese New Year. My mother would be aghast.
"Let him drink la."
Every time we go to his house, he'd give us a wheelbarrow full of vegetables he grew himself. And he's the one who gives the most in ang pows. For over 40 years, that has always been the case.
He lives in a shack. His dogs and geese and chicken would all come into the house. My mother is always afraid of the puppies. I always thought it was funny.
My grandfather used to keep over 40 dogs. They'd all come rushing out when we came to visit and my mother - a tudung-clad Muslim lady - would be rushing back into the car.
I was even taught an incantation to ward off dogs. Hahaha. Later on, when I read dog psychology, I began applying more scientific methods.
Don't stare a dog in the eye. They consider that a threat. Don't be afraid. They can smell fear, literally.
Humans emit pheromones and when we are scared, our smell also changes. Being confident would tell animals that nothing is wrong and to back off. And what's the worst can a dog do? Lick your face?
I find that most dogs want to smell my ass. I believe this is because with other humans, there are dog smells on them, but with Muslims, we generally do not have any dog smells on us, making some dogs very curious.
"What are these creatures? I got to check their ID."
Having the Chinese over for raya is great. We can at least make sure some people appreciate the food. Malays have rendang at their place as well, so they don't really eat much.
We used to cook over 40 sticks of lemang every raya. Now, we don't do that anymore. Bamboo is getting more scarce every year and you have to go deeper into the jungle every time. I've never been into the jungle to look for bamboo. All I know is that it's fucked up. You have to brave leeches, and then after cutting them on top of the hill, you have to throw/launch them downhill. Then you cut them up and fill the trunk.
It is fucked up work. My father used to cut off the leeches stuck to his body and feed the chickens with the bloodsuckers. Chickens love leeches.
I don't know when I can go back home. I still have loads to do here. Which reminds me. Two more deadlines to go. May the Gods of Wealth and War watch over me. As well as the Abrahamic God and stuff.