Street Singers - 1st Cut
Orange light spreads across the sky. Sunrise. It is our second day on the holy land. My three roommates and I have just left the Al-Haram mosque. The crowd from the Subuh Jemaah prayers shuffles ahead of us. A pilgrim shoves my left shoulder, another one on my right. More and more people knock against my arms and my back as they rush to overtake us. I adjust my white Telekung and neatly tuck in the few strands of stray hair on my forehead.
Along the way, we saw Indian merchants busy opening their outlets. The men quickly roll up their front shutters to reveal colourful displays of goods. Road-side sellers have already laid their mats on the ground and started business. “Nasi kerabu, nasi lemak, mee goreng!” A woman in black robe and long Tudung with a white veil covering her lower face calls out to us. She is seated on a low stool. I glance at the familiar triangular packets of food in front of her. A Tabung Haji officer told us that Patani settlers often take advantage of the Haj season. This is the time of the year to make money from local delicacies that remind Malaysian pilgrims of their home.
Chanting resonates from afar. Its’ intriguing melody and crispness are haunting. The beautiful, high pitch voices seem to have risen from further up the street. It is accompanied by loud rhythmic clapping. The synchronised singing becomes louder and louder as we move along...