Tuesday, 18 August 2009

black robes

About 20 temple workers dressed in black robes surrounded the family.

They were chanting, and singing with the help of a yellow book, all 24 pages of it.

I was struggling to keep up. Flipped one page after the other. Foreign characters blurred my vision. Tears blurred my vision.

I didn't know what I was doing. When the sifu told us to kneel, I kneeled. When he told me to stand, I stood, just like what a filial grandchild would do. We walked around his casket five times, with the workers still chanting, and my tears still flowing.

Kneel, stand, walk.

We've been doing that for the past 45 minutes. It made me realised the importance of respecting your elders and honouring his name.

Ten hours before the chanting ceremony, I had taken a last look at my grandfather, who was lying peacefully.

"Don't drop any tears on the casket," an auntie quipped. I didn't know what that meant either.

I sobbed and told him how much I missed him and that we used to visit the zoo and the beach together. I told him I was sorry for not being there.

I stood there, my cousins in the background, and it struck me that I was his eldest grandchild.

We had a lot of fond memories, didn't we gonggong?

The second day, I watched as my uncles, his son-in laws, carried the flag in his honour. I held more joss sticks again. I kneeled again. I cried again.

We rode in a bus which led to the crematorium. And we prayed when his body was to be incinerated. I couldn't bear to stay on to watch. So I went up on the bus and waited. Thought about the swing, the ice-cream, the pen knife, our talks, the walks on the beach, telling him my byes and hellos as I leave for and return from college then... and now they are just memories awash in time.

[music for the soul: last goodbye - jeff buckley]

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