"Ini je makanan yang boleh dimakan. Takpe, mak dah masakkan makanan kat rumah." [Well, these are the only foods I can have here. It's fine, my mom's made some foods for me back home.]
Such question very often would pop up during any of the kenduri kahwin (wedding receptions) that I've visited these past few weeks. And I reckon similar question might arise again in my next visit to a friend's kenduri.
Ayam masak merah.
And the list goes on. The foods mentioned above are almost always the typical menu of a Malay's wedding kenduri. Mouth-watering they certainly are, I had to teach myself to abstain from eating such foods. Ever since I made the decision to adopt a rather 'healthier' diet regime back in March, I have started to develop a rather unusual routine whenever I attended a wedding kenduri.
Mom's always been the staunch supporter of my new diet regime. In every way possible, she improvises a lot in order to not let my diet regime affect my daily activities. When I want to attend a wedding kenduri, for instance, mom would usually prepare my foods in advance. So that I can either eat them before or after attending the ceremony, or sometimes even bringing the foods to the kenduri itself. If the ceremony is held in a way where it's inappropriate for me to bring my own foods, then I'll just have the fruits served during the occasion, even abstaining myself from the sweet air sirap in offer, taking plain water instead.
Foods served during a Malay wedding ceremony are usually iressistable!
Some might argue that wedding kenduri does not happen often, thus the license for people to just enjoy the foods in offer. But in Malaysia, I frankly feel that such rule doesn't really apply. Wedding ceremonies mushrooming everywhere, especially during school holidays. I sometimes joke to my mom, telling her that what we really need in a Malay wedding ceremony is a sphygmomanometer to measure the blood pressure, and a blood glucose measuring kit, to measure the sugar in the blood. Those with high blood pressure and blood sugar levels should then be told that they are only allowed to munch on the vegetables, rather than the sumptuous rendang daging or kari kambing! Well, I wonder if one would even give such an idea a consideration in their wedding kenduri!
Packing my foods whenever we go out is no longer an unfamiliar routine. I might have decided to adopt for a healthier diet regime, but unfortunately a lot of the restaurants and food outlets in most shopping complexes don't follow suit. Apart from only a few food outlets known to serve good foods (ie no additives, MSG, additional flavorings, etc), it's extremely difficult to find one that suits my diet.
I must admit, adapting to my new changes was initially difficult, and it actually still is. Imagine walking along in a shopping complex, on your left is Krispy Kreme, and on your right is Baskin n Robbins. As you march ahead, you drop by at a bakery shop, and all you can find are sweet pastries and cupcakes. Everything around you just seems so tempting, yet you know you can't have them as such foods are not going to be of any help in the battle against your cancer!
Sometimes even my family members are kind enough to make sure that they eat the 'junk foods' behind my back. It's funny how depressing it sometimes feel when you aren't able to enjoy the 'unhealthy foods' you used to love in the past. Difficult it might be, I know I have to adapt. Life is all about adapting to situations around you. As Stephen Hawking rightly says, the ability to adapt to changes is what defines intelligence.
But more importantly, the whines and complaints that I make whilst adapting to this diet change of mine prompts me into thinking, "What an ungrateful servant of Allah am I?!" It's not like I don't have enough foods in the kitchen, or that I am starving to death. How lucky am I compared to the so many unfortunate people out there?! Ya Allah, shame on myself!
People in Gaza are deprived of foods, clean water, or even a shelter to protect themselves from the adverse weather.
The children in Africa are malnourished, lying helplessly with flies all around them, surrounded by vultures waiting to eat them once they die.
They are never given the opportunity to enjoy the life I have. Yet they adapted, in a circumstance worse than yours truly. And yet, here I am, still complaining about not being able to enjoy the foods I used to love. How ungrateful am I when these people, amid their struggles, can still praise and thank Allah whenever they are blessed with a loaf of bread, or even a bottle of plain water.
It is true what Allah says,
Indeed, man has been created impatient.
When affliction befalls him, he becomes fretful,
and when good fortune falls to his lot he becomes stingy.[Al-Maarij:19]
So here I am, telling myself to be thankful for the blessings that Allah has given to me, rather than pondering on the ones I think I have lost. Only then will one find solace in life!
And remember also that your Lord forewarned, `If you be grateful I will increase My favors on you, and if you be ungrateful (you should know that) My chastisement is severe indeed'!" [Ibrahim:7]