Some people have strange ways of fulfilling the last wishes of the dying – milk, sand and even gold. So, how about the dying wish of a man who will soon be nothing but a handful of ash?
AN aunt is dying. My late mother’s sister, now into her 90s, is bedridden and very ill. She doesn’t recognise most people around her and is unable to talk.
In fact, the doctors believe she should have gone by now. But the once sprightly lady is hanging on to her fragile life.
My sister has her own take on it. She believes the old lady has a dying wish. She wants to see her estranged son.
“If only we can find the son who was last seen in Penang and take him to Taiping, she will go in peace,” says the sister.
I don’t know. It sounds like a lot of superstition to me. But stranger things have happened.
My grandmother – the mother of the dying lady – was also one who refused to go easily. Known as the bespectacled lady in Taiping, she was also ill for a long time.
Actually, her headstone was stored under her bed, waiting for the fateful day. They even got some vashtu sastra guys to rearrange her bed so she would breathe her last.
Nothing worked – until someone pointed out that she was “The Bespectacled Lady”. So, they put her glasses on. The funeral was held the next day.
There was also another relative who would not go easily. He had left his wife and remarried a much younger woman. When his time came, he too was hanging on to dear life, until a son managed to convince his mother – the first wife – to visit.
She finally relented and agreed to come, provided the second wife was not around. She showed up and hours later, he was gone.
I tell you, we Indians have some strange rituals for those on their deathbeds. Usually, all and sundry would show up and feed the dying person a spoon of milk each.
In some cases, they feed the dying person water mixed with fine sand – it’s supposed to satiate the person’s attachment to the earth and their property. Or water mixed with melted gold – that’s supposed to allow them to take wealth with them to the hereafter.
Me? I think it’s just a case of choking the dying person to end their misery. Which brings me to another old man with a dying wish. Chin Peng is dead and he wanted to die in Malaysia, the land of his birth.
He failed miserably there. He was too much a bad guy here to be allowed in even in his dying days.
But his ashes? I think it’s a bit of an overkill to harp on his evil ways of old to justify not allowing his ashes to be brought in. There are those who fear that the place where his ashes are placed might be turned into a memorial.
Then, I say, the authorities should identify the place where his ashes are and monitor the spot to ensure no one changes it into a memorial.
That beats monitoring the entire border from east to west to prevent anyone from smuggling in the ashes in a backpack, bottle or talcum powder container.
I mean, it’s just ash. You could stash it anywhere. And it’s not as if the ashes are likely to coagulate into some kind of Sandman and start spouting communism.
Meanwhile, there’s this other neighbour that, come every August, sends over tonnes of ash, blinding our eyes, choking our throats and raising our medical bills. We haven’t been able to do anything about that ash either.
So what makes anyone think they can stop some guys from smuggling a little ash over the border?
These guys are smuggling guns in by the thousands (I get the impression) and we haven’t been able to do anything about that either.
There are many who have written about the monstrosities that Chin Peng wrought.
Having been born this side of Merdeka and having grown up in Penang, I had little or no experience with the communist terrorists.
Final rites: The Wat That Thong temple where Chin Peng will be cremated in Bangkok.
There was May 13 and terrorism for me was what happened in New York or Indonesia. But even if he was a bad man, it was a war then and people died on both sides. The victors write history and he was a loser. We can forgive and move on.
Nelson Mandela is a great man because he forgave his jailers even as he walked out of prison.
Or we can remember Mahatma Gandhi who said: “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
And we can be strong.
Mahatma Gandhi would turn 134 on Oct 2, if he were still around. And the writer DORAIRAJ NADASON , who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, The Star’s Deputy Executive Editor thinks it would be nice if the great man’s words will ring loud here, too. The STAR Online Home News Columnist 20/09/2013