03 July 2014

Letter To You #1


Receiving the news of your departure was difficult, although somehow there should be some degree of expectation given your last seen condition.

Needing to survive the hours before coach ride wasn't easy at all. I broke down when I had to inform about my urgent leave, something I had hoped to avoid. It wasn't easy to keep myself occupy with work on hand and trying to put up a brave front, creating conversation as per normal when I just wanted to hide in my shell. I can't do that, it is not fair to my colleagues. At home, ZM had a difficult time controlling the emotions inside. I can tell from his face easily. I had to put up a brave front, trying my best to talk in a light weighted tone, all for the reasons to not let mum break down. You understand, right?

The coach journey was slightly heavy inside, it got worst when we were waiting for 8th aunt to pick us up at 5:30 in the morning. Will she tear at the sight of us? Will there be not-so-needed comments from my other aunt? The car ride to kampung was quiet, as if any sound made will immediately burst the bags of tears forcefully stacked inside. Looking towards the tented house and road, having eye contact and weak smiles with your children, it wasn't easy to hold them back. They welled up when I offer incense to your altar and finally lost it when mum accompanied ZM and me to where you laid peacefully.

I am no good with words, don't know what to say in times like this, don't know how to react towards crying relatives. That was why I reserve my words and actions, spoke the minimum of the situation. During my alone time with mum, I asked about your final moment. Through the pieces mum share, I see a tough man with a soft heart in your final moment. Showing the miracle to the apple of your eyes, enjoying what you couldn't for so long, showing your wife your appreciation and love through request of last kiss. I am proud to call myself your niece, really.

Through the rituals and journeys around the house premises and across the bridge, I thought about you. I still do. I see past the state you were last in, remember you as your majestic self; the uncle with the scary aura; the man anyone can rely on. I recalled how you chided ZM for his former bad habits, how you sat at the door during thunderstorm just to witness lightning drawn across the sky.

The second time I looked at you in peace, HY was with me, saying how thin you must have gotten. "True, he was literally skin-to-bone. Well.... at least, he's carefree now. Right?" He looked at me dumbfounded, not sure if my answer was rude in his opinion or he suddenly realised what I said was true. That answer of mine was the exact reason I repeat to myself through the weekend to keep myself from breaking down during vulnerable moments I see from others.

I count myself lucky to have travelled back, to be able to spend that time with you though you were not able to have any conversation at all. I hoped you had seen how many people really love and miss you, and want the best for you in every possible way. Trust me, they still do. May you rest in peace, uncle.


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