Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Mushy, Marshy March

I have a habit of reading Obituaries and headstones. Once, in our way ‘balik kampung’, we passed by a Chinese cemetery. I zoomed in at one headstone as it looked new to my eyes and I saw a photo of a young man. My heart turned silent. That night, he came in my dream and asked why I looked at his plot. He told me he died in an accident. I apologised and he left me in peace.

March had been a dramatic month in its quiet way. Somehow, year in, year out, it has always been a mushy marshy one for me.

They say, in Seventh Heaven, our souls are like leaves hanging from a big tree. When one of the leaves drops, it means that one close to us will pass on to the Hereafter. If you are closed enough, you could sense the vibration as the leave dropped down, passing your way. March has been that kind of month where I sensed too much vibration and that made me sad and scared.

During ‘kenduri menyambut menantu’ for my aunt (Angel), I didn’t feel like celebrating – tak la, I wasn’t sad because I’m yet to be hitched OK. Alamak! That’s so lame a thought you have there sir!

I thought of Pakcik Ahmad, Abang Man’s ever friendly and cheerful father. He along with Ummi, Abang Man’s sis and family came over for my brother’s ‘kenduri menyambut menantu’ in December 2008. I should have invited them along too this time around but I was caught up with my beloved ‘boyfriend’ – my works – I forgot to do so and didn’t feel good calling him up at such a very late notice. Pakcik Ahmad met one of his good friends during our kenduri decades after they last met. Sadly, he passed on that fateful Saturday at 3.45 pm. Now, I couldn’t look at Abang Man for I would be reminded of Pakcik Ahmad. I was closed to tears meeting him in the lift the other day. “Boleh Pakcik Tanya Awak Orang Mana?” question during tea at her daughter’s house after Abang Man and a few of us from office dropped by after our site visit down under revealed that Abang Man’s brother in law is related to Mak. He connected the missing link between me and his side while I connected him to his good friend during the kenduri. For that, he would always have a special place in my heart. Along with my late grandmas and grandpas and Abang Long Khir, my cousin, I have added his name in my daily Al-Fatihah.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live” ~ Norman Cousins

During my brother’s kenduri, Tok Da also came over. When Ayah was posted to our Embassy in The Little Red Dot, Tok Da and his family would sleep over at our house to accompany Mak, me and my baby sis when Ayah had to go for some ‘mission’. I am sure Mak was deeply comforted by her presence since my late maternal grandmother, who passed on when Mak was 9 years old, looked exactly like Tok Da. Thirty years later, Tok Da’s son found me a great place to stay when I was there for some attachment program. My landlord – the best I ever found – had a tough time making sure everything was tip top for me. After a couple of month, I thanked him for his great hospitality. He said Tok Da told him that anyone can even sleep in Mak’s sparkling clean restroom and no way should I stay in a shabby place! While I tried my best (ya, I quit trying because no one would surpass Mak’s ISO standard in house management – she’s the QUEEN), I was glad I shared with Razak, my landlord, how to do his laundry better, cook sago gula melaka, laksa johor and gulai asam pedas johor and not forgetting how to remove ink stain from his shirt (milk would do).

Tok Da had undergone a major surgery last Friday, to remove a growth as big as a baby’s head from her intestine. She is now very weak but we all pray that she would be strong enough soon so that Mak Long Halimah, her eldest, could bring her back to their house in JB. During my short stint there, I saw where Mak, me and baby sis get our ‘strong’ genes from. At her age of early 80s, Tok Da is still active around the house but most of the time, I just pity her because she is rather lonely as her children and grandchildren are always busy. I wish I could spend more time talking to her over Bengawan Solo’s kueh lapis and onde onde. Despite that, she always has good words to say about others. She confessed a lot of things yet still thinks we should always treat people in the best of ways – no matter what. I know her time in this world has almost ended and I pray that she would have it easy for she has been a strong yet kind lady, a loving wife and a caring mother, surrounded by her beloved ones.

“As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death”

~ Leonardo da Vinci

Death brings sadness and it makes me curious too.

Mak told me a good person would be granted a wish by God to see his loved ones after his death, which explains why sometimes Mak dreamt of her mother and heard Tok saying something to her. I told Mak she always have that privilege because she never fails to recite Al-fatihah for her parents all this while God has granted her an access to see them whenever she wants. I am sure you too would have experience such thing when you could feel such presence, think of them and do or say great and meaningful something out of thin air.

Alfred Nobel was so depressed that the obituarists emphasised on his pioneering work on dynamite – W(eapon) M(ass) D(estruction) – that he endowed his enormous fortune to Nobel prizes. I wonder what my obituary would sound like when I'm gone.

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