THE 7th WEEK OF MY FATHER'S DEATH ON 1 AUGUST 2016, THE SADDEST DAY OF MY OTHERWISE HAPPY LIFE
On the night of 31 July 2016 my father Kee Nai Seng enjoyed what was to be his last dinner. He had complained to mum Ang Siew Soh the last 3 days he had no appetite and slept badly. So mum was delighted to see him tucking into kolo mee, popiah, oranges and water melon.
Recalls mum tearfully, "Your father said he enjoyed the meal very much and at 10.30 pm went to your bedroom to sleep."
On that Sunday I flew to Bangkok as guest of TAT Tourism Authority of Thailand and checked into Shangri-La Bangkok around 5 pm. On Monday morning on 1 August 2016 around 6.30 am I received the worst SMS and saddest words in English. My cousin texted "Urgent. Your father ill. Cannot wake up" which made my heart dropped so much I looked at the floor to see if it had fallen out of my chest.
I collapsed on the floor and rang Mum who said they had called the doctor. I kept insisting dad had just fallen into deep slumber and would wake up soon though we both knew the worst had happen as mum cried that dad's arms were already quite cold. Even so I insisted it was the ceiling fan. I started to pack and soon came the dreaded SMS from my cousin---"Come home, your father has just passed away". In any language these must be the world's saddest words.
I screamed so loudly in room 1828 I was surprised the windows did not crack. I staggered to bathroom to wash my face with soap and worked up a lather before realising I had not switched on the shower. It took a while before I realised the water were my tears. On the third night I could not remove my left contact lens and almost poked my eyeball out---then I discovered it had fallen off when I was crying so much some hours earlier at the monks' chantings. When you swim, your lenses stay in place as the water pressure pushes them inwards but when you weep, the tears push them outwards!
TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) rose to the occasion and showed their mettle. They asked me to pack and be at lobby by 9.30 am as they had ordered a limousine to take me to Dunmuang airport to catch the 1pm AirAsia flight. Richard Lim of TAT Malaysia booked the flights to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Baru.
TAT Thailand had an executive to accompany me to Donmuang airport who bought an extra ticket from KL to KB in case the transit time of a mere hour was too short and I might miss the connecting flight to Kota Baru. Luckily I didn't. I reached Kota Baru still dressed in my gaudy, colorful garments and my cousin had to lend me white t-shirt and black pants.
I had to stay and sleep next to dad's coffin (chosen by my mum who declared it was the best and most beautiful coffin in the shop) for 2 nights. I stared at my father's corpse and kept asking him to wake up. My voice of reason of course told me if he did, I would probably die of shock and heart attack and we would simply swop places which would defeat the whole purpose.
Dad usually woke at 6 am so when Mum woke at 6.30 am she was mildly surprised. She entered my bedroom and saw him asleep and was delighted as he had complained of being unable to sleep. "I was so happy, the night before he ate a lot and now was sleeping soundly so I didn't wake him as I wanted him to sleep as long as he wanted."
Mum had been married 66 years which is quite a record. After half an hour she felt uneasy and went to ask if he wanted to rise. That was when joy turned to total sorrow. In a split second, life can deal such a deadly blow.
Like everyone, I think Kee Nai Seng was the greatest father in observable universe. He was a smalltime businessman who never did anything fantastic or achieve great feats or discovered the cure for common cold. He never donated millions to charity or controlled a commercial empire and only a few ever depended on him for a livelihood.
As a child, I idolised him as I assumed he was the smartest man alive. In Standard 1 he taught me Bahasa Malaysia and Arithmetic and I was shocked to the core when I moved on and he could not teach me Mathematics and Additional Maths. I thought dad knew everything! He taught me Chinese chess but I was not blind to the fact he was a lousy teacher and soon I learned the ropes and was thrashing him so badly we never played Chinese chess together again. He tried to teach me to swim but was so scared I might drown in the end I never learned how to swim to this day.
As far as I know, Kota Baru Town Hall is not planning to erect a statue in his memory in his memory or issue a citation. Few knew him outside his family and circle of friends. Come to think of it, this applies to most of us!
Dad was so pleased and proud when I became a Dato and told everyone I was the first in the Kee clan to be a Dato. Thanks to the Sultan and Sultanah of Pahang! He framed the document announcing my Datoship and the living room is full of photo frames showing me in official D.M.I.P uniform receiving the award.
Everyone says I am a good son as I never gave him grief and so did he. Dad passed away peacefully in his sleep and did not suffer. Nor did he let his wife and son suffer. For decades each time I prayed to Buddha and even Jesus, I asked my father to live long and healthy and when the time should come, to let him die peacefully. The gods have granted my wish. May my mother and I be so blessed too when our time comes.
Dad never harassed me to get married though he and mum wanted grandchildren. He would ask meekly if I had a girlfriend and sigh when I brushed the question aside by saying I had never met a girl good enough for me. He and mum offered to introduce me to a nice girl from Kota Baru or anyone as long as she was not criminally insane. Once he drove me past some shops in KB, pointed to one and said "Nowadays we can cure such problems you know." I looked and it was a clinic dealing with sexual disorders. I had to convince him I was not impotent!
Dad promised to look after mum till he turned 95, a promise he kept. He said if he reached 96 he would then look after her till he was 100. We were so sure he would do just that but as mum said, "he went to see Put Chor (Buddha)" instead."
If I can choose again, through countless kalpas and a million incarnations, I still want to be born the son of Kee Nai Seng and Ang Siew Soh
DAD WAS CREMATED IN THIS WAT IN KG DALAM IN KELANTAN
DAD'S ASHES IN AN URN WAS KEPT INSIDE THIS HALL NEXT TO BUDDHA FOR 49 DAYS
NICE AND SIMPLE ARCHITECTURE
LOVE THIS CIRCULAR, CEMENT BENCH WRAPPED AROUND A MAGNIFICENT TREE
THE BRANCHES ARE THICK AND LEAFY!
IT TAKES A WHILE BEFORE THE WATER SEEPS DOWN WHEN IT RAINS
WHAT A TERRIFIC TREE!
CHIEF ABBOT'S HOUSE
INSIDE THE HALL
BLACK BIN BAGS CONTAIN NGOR KIM OR SILVER PAPER INGOTS FOR DAD
DAD'S PHOTO RESTING ON HIS ASHES INSIDE URN
WE WANTED TO PUT MOONCAKES GIVEN BY DATO JONESER CHOI BUT WE ATE THEM ALL!
URN WRAPPED IN RED CLOTH
DAD'S ASHES INSIDE BUT THEY ARE ACTUALLY BURNED BONES
DAD'S URN WAS PLACED ON LEFT OF BUDDHA FOR 49 DAYS
WE ASKED FOR 6 MONKS BUT THERE WAS ANOTHER CREMATION AT THE SAME TIME SO IN THE END THERE WERE 3 MONKS TO CHANT
SEE THE STRING CONNECTED EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE
DAD'S FAVORITE FOOD
MAY BUDDHA BLESS MY FATHER KEE NAI SENG!
THE BOXES CONTAINED MY FATHER'S FAVORITE CLOTHES, SHOES, SLIPPERS ETC
THE 3 MONKS
A STRING CONNECTED EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING
THE STRING ENDED AT MY FATHER'S PORTRAIT AND FOOD
MUM WAS UNABLE TO SQUAT SO SHE SAT ON CHAIR
PUTTING RICE IN BOWLS FOR DAD
I WAS SUPPOSED TO SLOWLY POUR THE WATER INTO BOWL AS THE MONKS CHANTED PRAYERS BUT I WAS TOO DISTRAUGHT SO MY TUASOH DID IT FOR ME
THAT'S ME AT RIGHT
MY FATHER'S PERSONAL CLOTHES AND POSSESSIONS WERE BURNED SO HE COULD USE THEM IN HEAVEN
A RELATIVE SUGGESTED MY MOTHER COULD GIVE DAD'S OLD CLOTHES TO THE TEMPLE OR FOR THE POOR
BUT MUM INSISTED THEY BE BURNED SO HER HUSBAND COULD BE REUNITED WITH HIS EARTHLY POSSESSIONS
I RETRIEVED A NICE LEATHER BELT THOUGH FOR MY USE
MUM EVEN WANTED TO BURN DAD'S SPECTACLES SO HE COULD READ AND SEE CLEARLY
BUT SHE DECIDED TO PUT DAD'S SPECTACLES INSIDE THE LITTLE SHRINE IN DOUBLE DRAGON TEMPLE NEXT TO HIS URN
FINALLY AFTER ALL WAS THROWN INTO THE FIRE, A BOTTLE OF TEA WAS SPRINKLED AROUND THE FLAMES THRICE---THIS WAS TO PREVENT OTHER DEAD SOULS FROM SNATCHING DAD'S POSSESSIONS! GOD ALMIGHTY, I NEVER KNEW GREED CONTINUES IN AFTERLIFE!
LUNCH--THE MONKS ATE FIRST THEN US
LIT CANDLE ALL THE WAY FROM CREMATORIUM TO DOUBLE DRAGON TEMPLE
LEAVING WAT CHONPRACHUM THAT TO DOUBLE DRAGON TEMPLE
ENTRANCE OF DOUBLE DRAGON TEMPLE!
DAD'S FINAL RESTING PLACE
I HANDCARRIED DAD'S URN ON MY LAP ALL THE WAY HERE
THE SHRINES ARE ALL LOCATED BEHIND BUDDHA
DAD PURCHASED THIS SHRINE SOME 20 YEARS AGO!
HE PAID RM 5,000
TODAY IT IS WORTH RM 22,000 AND ALL HAVE BEEN LONG SOLD
ROWS OF SMALL SHRINES FOR PLACEMENT OF URNS
DAD, REST IN PEACE HERE OK
MY TUA SOH OR SISTER COUSIN IN LAW
NOTE THERE ARE 3 CUBICLES. MUM AND I WILL BE PLACED HERE TOO WHEN THE TIME COMES
MONK CHANTING PRAYERS FOR MY FATHER AND TO WELCOME HIM HERE
HE TOUCHED DAD'S URN IN HIS LAST CHANT
MY URN CONTAINING MY ASHES AND BONES WILL BE PLACED AT LEFT WHILE MUM'S WILL BE AT RIGHT IN FUTURE AND OUR LITTLE FAMILY WILL BE REUNITED AGAIN UNDER BUDDHA'S AEGIS
ME AND MUM
PICTURE OF DESOLATION
ALL THREE OF US WILL END UP HERE AS I AM THE ONLY CHILD
WONDER IF ANYONE WILL BOTHER TO COME VISIT ONCE MUM AND I ARE HERE AS THIS BRANCH OF THE KEE CLAN ENDS WITH ME
DOUBLE DRAGON TEMPLE WHERE MY FATHER'S ASHES ARE PLACED TILL END OF TIME
THIS IS THE MOST MAGNIFICENT RAINTREE I HAVE EVER SEEN!
CAN YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A T.REX HERE TOO?
A MALE ONE TOO
CLAWING HOMAGE TO BUDDHA