Sunday, December 10, 2006

Roadtrip

I found some closure to that unanswered question that has been bothering me the past one and half months. The pain hasn't entirely gone away, but i'm have more reason to feel good now.

Today marks the 49th day of popo's passing. Dad, mom, Mike and i went back to Bukit Mertajam to give our 'final' respects or as how i term it as 'closing ceremony' and dad conducted some final rites. We arrived BM yesterday late evening, and we stopped by Tambun for seafood before heading off to meet my Tai-Gu (dad's eldest sis) for some last minute prayer stuff shopping. We then went back to my ancestors home for a cup of tea and to show Mike around as he's never been to my dad's kampung.

'So much history on the wall...', Mike said with his head still tilting about. He was amazed at the timeline of family portraits hung up at the wall. From there we started telling stories about our families... happy ones and not so happy ones... we've spoke of it occationally, but yesterday at my gong-gongs house, it was one of moments one rarely get to experience when we're so caught with work and city life. We sat and just talked about everything under the sun and moon...

This morning, we headed for the temple where popo's urn was placed to perform some prayers and respect to usher her soul to the next spiritual level. I'm no Buddhists, neither am i a baptists Christian so i performed the rites with my family along with 3 of my Ah Gu's 3 other cousins anyway. Mom's a bapdists Protestant and she was quietly condemned by some Christians for holding the jolstick and kaotaoing throughout the entire Taoist funeral, prayers and all the little details with dad. She said. "Cheh... i wasn't worshipping the dead or idols wat, just paying my respects as a worthy daughter inlaw and doing my duty as a wife mah..." I think Mom's turning Bohemian like me :)

It was a case of 'monkey see, monkey do' for me throughout the whole procession. I stuck by dad closely the whole time making sure i'm doing the right thing. When it was time for the monk to chant some prayers, we had to kneel facing popo's urn until the end of the chanting. I knelt next to my elder cousin sister who seemed super well composed with the jolsticks firm between her palm and steady on her knees. My older cousin brother was on my other side followed by dad. After about 2 minutes of chanting, i began to feel restless. Shifting my butt weight from side to side, i started observing the people around me. Mom's already left the 'zone' tilting her head about checking out the other people's urn around the room. My cousins were consistently focused while my Ah Gu seemed to be spiritually connected with the chanting. Then from the corner of my eye, Dad suddenly leaned forward with his head lower than his shoulders, instead of hands clasped together, he placed them on his laps and with his eyes tightly shut, he pulled a few deep breaths throughout the chanting. I tried to relate the feeling of loosing a mother, and i instantly felt like breaking down. I knew dad missed his mother very much.

The chanting lasted approximately 10 minutes, and we then headed off to another temple with the jolstick that is said to lead my popo's soul to reunite with gong-gong. Overthere, we did another round of simple prayers and gong-gong's plague was taken down from the altar so dad could remove the sticker that has been concealing popo's name next to it for the last 30 years. Dad was back to himself by then, breaking a few jokes on and off about what my gong-gong's gonna say to popo after their 'reconciliation'.

We headed for home soon after the last rites, stopping for lunch at Tambun (again) for seafood (again)! Mom couldn't resist their fresh and juicy crabs even after having it the night before. I had so much seafood that my lip is numbed from the minor allergic reaction!

All in all, it was abit of a rush but wonderful trip. It definitely brought us all closer through the difficult moments. And like every other day, there's a lesson in life from it all.

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