Wednesday, 11 March 2009

From Pusara Aman to Pusara Abadi (CsH) - The other Much-Beloved Man

My sister and brother , because of health reasons and bureaucracy, could not be present at the exhumation and re-internment - and my heart feels for them and the grief they were going through.
I have a special visa in my Passport : SWS (settled with Spouse), Given leave to enter the United Kingdom for an indefinite period.

This is for my spouse. He was a pillar of strength on the 9th and 10th of March. Often couples feel no need to articulate their appreciation of their partners but this time I shall.
He never met Akim. In fact a few days before Akim passed away, he asked Rojiah 'Who is this Iain Buchanan? I would really want to meet him.' But it was not to be. My father had met him many years ago, but the old man did not figure on this character becoming his son-in-law.

The word 'abang' took on a very endearing meaning for us when Khamis, the man who was in charge of exhuming Akim's grave put out his hand to Iain and said "Saya minta izin, abang" which means "I ask for permission, brother" Somehow the word brother is not an apt
translation for 'abang'. Muslims, especially in the West, call each other, of all races, brother and sister - to indicate a sense of brotherhood and unity. 'Abang' however has different connotations in the Malay world - it carries with it shades of respect for the older person and also a sense of affection.
What Khamis conveyed to Iain was very touching and kind - it helped us tremendously on that difficult day.
But it was not only Khamis who showed such warm-hearted sensitivity. In the office, there was Saridah and Azizah. Johan, the young man in charge of the whole procedure was admirably efficient, cool and patient while facing outbursts of anger, and very much the man of the moment. I reckon he could run big corporations and even a government efficiently without losing the human touch. And dear Encik Hamid who had to work for two days on my father's grave because of the torrential rain on the first day, worked his guts out with water up to his chest without any complaint or impatience and above all, very respectfully removed my dad's remains under a scorching hot sun on the second day.
Then there was Zainal, a complete stranger who offered us a lift to the new gravesite at Pusara Abadi for the re-burial, about a kilometre away. All the way , he was caring and solicitious to 'kakak' and 'abang' and when the day was done he made sure he got us to the MRT Station of our choice. We both cannot get over this immense generosity of spirit from these Malays from Singapore. They are sometimes criticised for being brisk and efficient 'robots', but on those 2 days, they showed a mighty big heart. In the winter of my years - I feel relieved. There is hope for our people to integrate modernity and the Malay ways and purpose.

Finally for my sun-burnt spouse, ( from nearly 2 hours of standing under the midday sun by my father's grave ), Hamid's chidren and grandchildren thank you. The two departed could not have asked for a better son-in-law and brother-in law. You may have wilted under the sun but not your heart and your spouse says it all in George Harrison's "What is Life". You know I can't play the guitar and you would not be able to cope with me singing.
Thank you, me duck!


melayudilondon said...

Kak, I have tears in my eyes reading this. I am glad that there is still compassion and solidarity within our Malay community.

Anonymous said...

My dear nor
The whole of Monday my mind was at pusara Aman. I hate myself for not being there when Akim was laid to rest as I missed it by a few hours, but the times I spent with him in London before his death flashed through my mind. We were, for the first time, rediscovering--no, discovering each other as only brothers could.

I have written about this period somewhere and will re-post it .

But, Abah, the whole of Monday, and Tuesday, I kept recalling the monent we laid him to rest.

I was in the grave, together with aruah cik Omar, and a student of your from Merlimau. The three of us carried him and laid him down--adjusting his body for the correct angle, laid the plank to cover him. and had to do THE MOST PAINFUL ACT I HAD EVER DONE AND WILL EVER DO. i WAS THE FIRST TO COVER ABAH WITH A FEW HANDFUL OF EARTH. tHAT IS THE MOST SOLEMN, PAINFUL AND AGONIZING ACT . i FELT i DID HIM WRONG IN DOING THAT.

Any way , last Monday and Tuesday , that moment came back----and I couldn't be there.......


Anonymous said...

Oh---from the bottom of my heart Iain , thanks for being there. I won't write more but i think you know how much i appreciate it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mak Ngah,
Terribly sorry that I can't curi keluar on both days - good to hear that it went well for you.

Hi Unc Ian,
Can I call you 'Pak Ngah'....think about it, we can make the little ones confused on the actual source of those silly riddles :)