Tag Archives: death

An Other Mother Gone

My mum’s friend whom I mentioned here passed on last week. Looking at her photos it was tough to imagine that this lady who’d always been so good to me wasn’t with us anymore. My friend took it in her stride I hope, since she’d probably been mentally prepared for it over the past month with her mum in the hospital but I know that I’d be torn up inside if it had been my mum, so I know it can’t have been easy for her.

The family’s not Muslim, so I went to the wake at her house. It wasn’t quite open casket, but the top part of the casket was transparent so you could see the face of the departed. I didn’t cry, but it was tough seeing her in the make up they put on the dead when a few steps away I could see photographs of her alive and well, the way I remembered her. My friend hasn’t had the best of times this past year, and the last conversation I had with her mum was about how moody she (my friend) had been and how difficult it was to talk to her sometimes.

I suppose the best thing to gain from this is an understanding that death is a certainty and a reminder to live our lives the best we can.

I miss you Aunty Wendy. May God have mercy on your soul.

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(This was a pseudo-hidden post on the other blog i.e. I backdated it. In any case, it was originally written in a notebook on the back of an SMRT 518 bus on Friday, August 28th 2008. I moved it here because I didn’t really want to lose it. I also didn’t want to remember my grandmother with a post about her death, but God willing soon I’ll write about my own personal memories of her. )


As I wrote this initially I could see the fireworks explode over Marina Bay. Like human lives, we catch but a brief glimpse of their beauty before they fade into the night.


My grandmother passed away at dawn on the 8th of August at the age of 86. Walking into the hospital ward had an element of the unreal, as looking at my nenek I might simply assume she were sleeping. We’d gone to visit her many times in the hospital when she was warded because of one ailment or another, how was this time any different? Even on closer inspection I imagined maybe her breathing was a little lighter than normal or that out of the corner of my eye I might be able to catch her eyelids flutter a little.

After reciting the Yasin, I leaned over to kiss her and it was only then that I felt the coldness of her body. Life had been taken from her. I felt the first touch of sadness breeze over me, chilling more than the air-conditioning could. Still, I thought I could hold myself together.

Muslims don’t have what most people would consider funerals, as generally the body should be buried within as short a time period as possible. The burial had to be held back to the next day though as given the circumstances of her death (being an elderly woman living alone with a maid) a post-mortem was supposed to have been conducted. So the whole family gathered at my grandmother’s place, to make prayers for her before the burial. I still half-expected her to be there even as we mourned her. Why wouldn’t she be in the home she’d lived in for so many decades, after all? I still expect to see her now when I go to her place, knowing full well I’d helped put her body in the ground two weeks ago.

She managed to escape the post-mortem and the body was brought back to the house to be bathed and wrapped in the kafan. Even while waiting for all of this I felt sad, but I thought I was still okay. But seeing her body wrapped up and unmoving, and hearing the recitations from the Qur’an whatever slivers of self-control I had left snapped completely.

I wept.

In the cemetary, after the earth was poured into her grave, I found myself unable to walk away. Faced with her mortality and my own, it was still difficult to accept the reality of her death.