Got back about 4 hours ago after nearly a week in Singapore. Throughout the 6 hour journey my mind ranged over what I've been doing and am putting these thoughts down before I lose them in a much needed sleep.
Firstly , I had to undergo a medical test at a Government Polyclinic for the 'renewal' of my driving licence - which in itself is a good thing, before I celebrate the venerable age of 65 next year. Basically it's to certify that I am physically and mentally (?) fit. Come to think of it, the doctor was very chatty and engaging. She talked about her elderly patients who are short of money and short of care from their children. She believed that children nowadays have been spoiled and regard their parents' sacrifice as a right rather than a privilege. I couldn't help but agree and I did enjoy that little natter with her. And so , I guess I must have shown her that all my marbles are intact. There was also an amusing test where I had to walk by placing one foot in front of the other without looking down. And this had to be done forward and backward! And yippee I passed. There will be another test when I touch 68. I hope to do just as well, that is unless I get certified for something else.
Tuesday the 16th was the date given for the verification of my brother's and father's graves at Pusara Aman, Choa Chu Kang before the exhumation sometime in February. I acknowledge why this had to be done, but it doesn't make the procedure less painful.
The officers who were handling the procedure were efficient and sensitive. After the registration I was given a numbered badge to pin on my blouse and to await another officer who will accompany me to the said graves. At each grave an orange label was attached to the headstone with my name and the names of these two much loved and much missed men. And that was that!!!
I realised when I got back to Jai's flat that I had failed to carry out what I normally do when I visit the graves. That episode on Tuesday had left me with numbness and disbelief, in fact it was quite surreal, like I was having an out of the body experience. I went back to Pusara Aman the next day and said my prayers for both of them. I scattered a mixture of yellow and white and purple petals and a packet of bunga rampai which was a free gift from the flower lady. She had been selling flowers at Pusara Aman for as long as I can remember. I noticed how she had aged and in her I see a reflection of how time has taken its toll on me as well.
I told my abah not to worry for I will be there when they move him and I also said to Akim that all will be well because he will be at abah's side. It all sounds soppy because as a Muslim I should realise that the soul takes precedence over the corporeal. But since 1974, visiting these two little plots of earth keeps a physical link between them and us. You could touch them when you visit and when you say goodbye until the next time that is.
As a last act of defiance, I plucked 2 red leaves of the Daun Jenjuang (Cordyline Terminalis) from Akim's grave . It was planted by my late mother on her son's grave. I also picked from the side of my dad's grave 2 wildflowers - the Ketumbit Jantan (Cupid's Shaving Brush) and the Malu-malu (Mimosa Pudica). I took them back , lay them flat between layers of newspaper to dry and to store in my pirate's chest at home.
For the plaque, you were given 16 characters only including spaces. I had to abbreviate Abdul Hamid bin Jala to Abdul (space) Hamid (space) Jala, sum total 16. Wonderful!
Mustakim bin Abd Hamid was reduced to Mustakim (space) A. (space) Hamid, again a perfect 16.
Years ago we heard stories that Johor will find land for the burial of Singapore Muslims when the Republic runs out of space. It remains just a tale and anyway Malaysia has to take care of her own, allocating large tracts of land for the resting place of some of her multi-racial citizens. Maybe in a hundred years the same fate may fall upon my dad's motherland . I hope not because it's not nice. As for me and my family, the head has to accept but the heart rankles and grieves. Nothing's right, nothing makes sense, nothing rhymes.
Nothing physically, recklessly, hopelessly blind
Nothing I couldn't say
Nothing why 'cos today,
by Gilbert O' Sullivan
Thanks to hanselgretelhg for the video
Thank you Jai, Lely, Mary (Lely's mum) and Oi Bek for being steadfast and true.