Till we meet again

Snacks of light swiss roll slices served at funeral wake
Cherish Today, Appreciate Now

I never thought I would be in Tambun again so soon.  But I was back there again, this time for a very different reason.  Early on Monday morning, I received a message from my sister that started with, “Don’t panic but I have sad news…” and I read on to learn about the sudden demise of her father-in-law.

While I was deeply saddened by the news, it was a great comfort that my sister and her husband were in his hometown for the weekend and they were there with the family through those precious moments.  I learnt that her father-in-law was admitted into hospital on Saturday night and his condition was stable on Sunday but he took a turn for the worse in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Just two weeks ago, after my sister and I enjoyed a wonderful spa retreat at The Banjaran in Tambun, we stopped over in Kampar en route to Johor Baru, to visit her father-in-law.  I will treasure fond memories of our time with him and how he was the first person to introduce me to my traditional title in the family, “Ah Yee” because that’s how my nephews respectfully address me.  My nephew, who is also fond of food, refers to his grandfather as a “master chef” and I agree because my sister often brought back his home-cooked specialties for us to savour when they returned from visiting Kampar!

My ride by this comfortable coach from Larkin Sentral
My response to the sad news was to go to be with my sister and the bereaved family so I swiftly postponed my appointments so that I could pack and leave.  I was discouraged from driving so it was an adventure for me to experience the first leg of my journey to Kuala Lumpur by coach.  I am familiar with journeys on chartered tour coaches but it was ages ago since I last traveled by public transport.

The plan was to travel to KL by coach to meet my brother and his wife and join them on the next sector to Kampar by car.  For a start, I went to Larkin Sentral to buy a ticket and I had a strange encounter with a young lady ticketing staff for one of the many coach companies there.  She was helpful in supplying answers to my queries and directed me to the coach company that provided the route that I required.

A poignant moment by the casket
As I was focused on acquiring my coach ticket to leave that afternoon, she caught me by surprise by asking me that million-dollar question – You orang apa?  [What is your race?]  I was in no mood to reply her blunt and personal question but I said, “Saya orang Malaysia.”  [I’m Malaysian.]  She was still adamant and went on to quiz and speculate about my “mixture” – so I gently stepped away with a polite wave of thanks!

I finally got my ticket for a 3pm departure that should take me to Terminal Bersepadu Selatan [TBS] the spanking new south terminal in KL.  The Causeway Link was an ideal choice because it is an express service with only one comfort stop.  As the coach exited Larkin Sentral, I could already hear a symphony of snores from fellow passengers [one in front and two in the rear!] but I confess that I was very annoyed with the loud talking by two inconsiderate ladies – almost all the way to KL!  I tried to tune them out but they were just too loud! 

Another passenger in front must have been annoyed too because she requested the driver to switch on the radio, probably in the hope of drowning out the loud ladies!  The ride, however, was so steady that I could read quite comfortably and was glad when we arrived at TBS in good time.

"Life goes on" tagline on Cactus "funeral water"
Following my brother’s instructions, I found my way to the adjacent terminal where I should board a train to our rendezvous at the Masjid Jamek station.  Even though the signages were no so clear, I managed to go to the platform using my Touch n Go card.  Unlike stations worldwide, I could not find a poster with the train routes here for me to ascertain which train I should take – or risk hopping onto the wrong train!  By this time, trains were rumbling in and out on either side of the platform and to save time, I interrupted two girls’ conversation to ask and was glad when they directed me to the train that was about to leave! 

From where I was seated, I could not read the route map that was posted above the door.  But I heard the recorded announcement of each station and could not help smiling with amusement because the station names are so…local!  It was weird to hear, “Next station, Hang Tuah” instead of more familiar station names like, “Paddington” or “Marylebone.”

Tambun Cemetery is sheltered by a majestic mountain range
Bereavements are a sad time for family reunions but it was good to learn that our two nephews, who live abroad, were also making their way back for their grandfather’s funeral.  It rained quite heavily on the two nights of the wake but the services on both nights were very well attended.  The presence of many who came from near and far is a clear reflection of how well my sister’s father-in-law was appreciated in the community.

Snacks were served after the wake services with mineral water for drinks.  Since these cups of mineral water are usually supplied at funeral wakes, my nephew inadvertently dubbed it as, “funeral water.”  Looking closer at the sealed tops of these cups, we were amused at the tagline, “Life goes on” with Cactus [the brand name].  This line seems ironical for what we call “funeral water” but I guess the makers of Cactus drinks are also Christians who understand the gift of life eternal through trusting in Jesus! 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  John 5:24

My nephews driving us back to JB;
Showing off the wonder of technology on Ipad screen!
As the mist lifted from the nearby mountains, the morning of the funeral dawned bright and clear.  The day started with a typically Kampar menu of local breakfast that included smooth chee cheong fun [rice noodles], chow-yuen [deep-fried meatballs made with a blend of pork and fish] and chunks of roast pork!

The funeral service was both moving and meaningful and it was good to see the family standing together in solidarity as they bade their farewells.  The journey to the cemetery in Tambun was very interesting as the family took a traditional walk behind the hearse through the entire main street in town!  

“Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life: whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”  John 11: 25 & 26.  As we each cherish our fond memories of him, I too said my farewell – Till we meet again.


No comments:

Post a Comment