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Marking Hari Raya in Chow Kit

Ana and her children have celebrated Hari Raya many times in the notorious district.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Ana and her son walk hand in hand through the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
Ana and her son walk hand in hand through the streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Ana and her family decided to move from Terengganu to Kuala Lumpur several years ago after hearing about the possibility of a job offer. 

Upon their arrival in the capital city, they rented a small place in Chow Kit.

Worried about the area's reputation as a red-light district, though, Ana could not bring herself to leave their room for the entire first week. 

The promised job offer, meanwhile, never materialised. 

Ana and her husband took odd jobs here and there in order to provide for their children. Eventually, though, her husband got involved in drugs and his days were spent going in and out of prison instead. 

Alone with their five children, Ana marked each Hari Raya at their rented room in Chow Kit. 

"My mother has asked me to go back to my home town, but I don't think I will. 

"I still remember what my family said to me when I came to live here," she said. 

Ana does her best to raise her children in Chow Kit although she herself has been accused of doing immoral work in the area. 

But still, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a merry occasion for the family.

Ana often helps charity organisations distribute aid throughout the area, and each year, the residents of Chow Kit gather in the streets to celebrate the festive season together. 

Last year, they received enough donations to hold a kenduri or feast.

During the fasting month, meanwhile, the place is filled with the urban poor who queue in long lines to receive food at the end of the day. 

"We always receive some Raya money and clothes, so there's a bit of fun for the children," she said. 

This year, though, Ana will not be celebrating Raya with the others in Chow Kit. 

She plans to bring her children back to Terengganu, but not to visit her family.

They will be visiting their father, who is at a rehabilitation centre in the state. 

"I've already bought our bus tickets," she said. "My youngest child has never seen his father's face." 

Ana's husband is allowed to leave the centre for a few hours each day, during which time he works on a small home for his family. 

Back in Chow Kit, meanwhile, Ana has been preparing for the trip. 

"Everything is ready," she said. All they have to do is wait for the announcement of Hari Raya.