Week 23: Back to School and the Final Funeral Prayers

January 2–8

I was really not looking forward to going back to school (who would, after a lovely 6-week summer vacation in December!?) but once we were back, it was much better than I expected. This year Ibe and I are in Form 5, the equivalent of senior year, following our classmates from last year. 

Interesting fact: In Malaysia, the actual date of birth is often irrelevant in saying how old someone is. If you were born any time in 2000, the minute the clock strikes midnight and it’s 2017, you are 17 years old. School grades are divided in this manner— schools run on a calendar year, and each age is a different Form. Form 5 is for seventeen year olds— now anyone born in 2000. Form 4 is for students born in 2001 who are thus 16 years old this year. Since I was born in 1999, I’m technically 18 by Malaysian standards even though I’ve only been actually 17 for one month. Students like to write their age in their Instagram biographies, and everyone’s supposed age changed when the new year struck. 

After school one day, I visited the Tapah recycling plant where we dropped off lots of old papers. The facility was really interesting to see. Many Malaysians seem to have an issue with throwing trash in trash cans as opposed to the side of the road next to beautiful palm trees and jungle, and recycling is even more of a rarity. A lot of people burn their trash— sometimes just gardening scraps or paper, but often rubber, plastic, and metal as well. Rubber tire scraps are used as fuel for starting fires. 

I discovered an archery class in Tapah! After sitting in the park and painting for a while, I joined and tried my hand at archery, with instructors’ help. 

Later this week, a truck came through with a loudspeaker announcing that because there had been Dengue fever cases in our neighborhood, they would come around and spray the streets and inside of the houses of anyone interested. A man came through with a leaf blower spraying out mosquito insecticide, spraying our street and inside of our house. 

The next day we had the thirtieth day funeral prayers, the final time for prayers for my host uncle who had passed away. Following this, the family won’t pray for him until the Deepavali ancestor prayers next October. 

The whole family came again (excluding the aunt in India)

Saturday morning, we all went to the Tapah Murugan temple, the most common temple we go to, and the swami/priest performed prayer rituals. 

Then we went to another temple, this one located on the grounds of the Tapah hospital. The priest for this temple performed a second set of prayer rituals. 

Back at home, we placed a meal as an offering and had prayers. 

That evening, the whole family joined in when my cousins and I started playing hockey and badminton. We had sister v. sister and parent v. child badminton matches on our flour-lined street court, and my uncle made a game of hitting hockey balls into buckets (and each successful shot earned us one ringgit! But that part ended once we got better at the game). This family Olympics was SO much fun, and I was filled with gratitude for having such a wonderful host family. 

The next morning, a swami came to our home for more prayers.

These nine vases represent the planets
Representative of the planets

Various grains, herbs, fruits, and even some fabric were burned as offerings. 

Aaand that’s the end of this week. Stay tuned for more updates soonish. 


4 Comments Add yours

  1. grant2002 says:

    Always great to read! Thanks.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! I love you so much and miss you! 💚


  2. Vanina Wolf says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog posts, Hannah! You capture with your words and pictures the daily hum of life there. We’re thinking of you and sending love!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I love and miss you all!


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