With the 15-day observance of the Lunar New Year coming to an end on Monday, Chinese communities the world over will celebrate the occasion with different levels of merry-making. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also referred to as Chap Goh Meh – which amongst other things, also happens to be my birthday according to the Lunar calendar!
Although I do not celebrate this Chinese birthday, it brings back a mixed bag of memories from my childhood. Being so young, the thrill of watching the fire crackers creating a mighty din outside the house, was the ‘highlight’ of the evening. When the long lines of fired crackers which lined the roads and hung from 2nd storey house windows left clouds of choking, low-lying smoke, children would then come out to light up the hazy streets with their candle-lit paper lanterns of every colourful description.
As I was not allowed to fire the crackers, my cousin Stella (who was my age, and not quite old enough to join the hundreds of orange-throwing maidens out on the lake-front) and I decided to have some fun of our own. Being the bright spark that I thought I was, I got my hands on a couple of sparklers, which we lit, and danced around in our own little space, downstairs. Gleefully dizzy with our own revelry, and prancing around to abandon in the downstairs hall, a spark one too many had caught onto my grandmother’s long kebaya hanging on the wall and whooom, it was on fire before we could say ‘jack in the box’! With that, I shall leave to your vivid imagination, the conclusion of that chapter.
Whether we are throwing an orange or two into the nearest waterfront hoping for a wish to come true or celebrating in any of the other customary ways, let us all pray for peace in the world.