My first memory or rather introduction to my religion was asking Ustaz Dahalan, 'I f God existed, how come I couldn't see Him ?' My mother was mortified, my father rolled his eyes ' Ahh ... Dina, again you ask funny questions ,' and Ustaz laughed.
I was about seven years old then. My unlimited play time was now shortened, as for an hour twice a week, I was to learn how to read and recognise the Arabic alphabets. That attempt was short-lived for not long after, we moved to Moscow.
I am a practising Muslim. I am not a perfect one though, and I certainly am not a role model for a young modern Muslim woman. My religious upbringing was erratic. My father was a diplomat, and we lived here and there, before Father packed in his diplomatic career and brought all of us back to Malaysia, because he did not want his daughters to be heathens.
Speaking no Bahasa Malaysia, and bewildered by the education system ("They don't teach about dinosaurs in school, Bah-bah") and societal values placed on us ("We're Malays, we don't behave this way"), my sister and I came home as foreigners. Liza had an easier time acclimatising to the environment, for she was much younger than me. I was then too Americanised, too 'aggressive', 'too un-Malay', and when I was 15, I was booted to Tunku Kurshiah College to rediscover my roots and religion.