Hokkien Funeral Rites: An Observation

Hokkien Funeral Buddhist Altar

My maternal grandmother, bless her soul, was buried today. She was my last surviving grandparent, and her death means the end of an era for me. We buried her according to Buddhist rites. These are what they entailed at least for my side based in Klang, Malaysia (mainly because most other sources cite Singapore and that’s a completely different ball game).

Note that this may be incomplete as I wasn’t there for some of the rituals (being an “external granddaughter” meant my presence was not completely compulsory).

So, what can you expect at a Hokkien funeral? Read More »Hokkien Funeral Rites: An Observation

Weekly Update: Exhaustion

Cheras Christian Cemetery Skyline
A view from my father’s forever resting place.

The past two weeks have been hectic, to say the least.

On 15 February, I started working at my new job. It was actually quite interesting and very refreshing, but I didn’t really have any time to write because I was adjusting to a completely new routine and possible lifestyle. I think I mentioned too, that I was looking to renovate my house.

By Wednesday afternoon, everything fell apart.

My father passed away.*

I rushed home as soon as mom called me that first time, but by the time I hit the final LRT station, I received news that my father was no more. Thank the Goddess for things to do; I had to focus on getting to my car, then driving it, and then finding my mother. After a moment’s grief, I did exactly that.

I burst into tears when I saw my mother because her grief was so overwhelming, so strong. I remember hugging her and crying with her, not because I had lost a father but because my mother had lost a husband.

Even as I am writing this now, I think I went through the five stages of grief relatively quickly. I know I was furious that afternoon, but it was one that I didn’t linger too much on. There was bargaining, denial, and sometimes depression, but I remember denial was the reaction I dealt with the most, simply because my throat would choke each time I had to call someone to tell them my father was gone.

I don’t know if I’ve hit the acceptance stage or not. It seems surreal. Thanks to work, dealing with people for the seven day prayers and just a BURST OF ACTIVITY, I haven’t really had time to feel anything more than simply exhaustion.

Physical exhaustion from walking 20 minutes a day to the LRT station and back to the office (this is just me whining about the choice I made to do so; there are other, less strenuous ways to get to work but this was what I chose). Mental emotion because work is stretching me in pretty much the right ways. And emotional exhaustion.

Mainly because I realise I’m more an extrovert than I really am an introvert. I do well in groups of people, and far less in individual doses, unless they are people I’m familiar with.

This hit really hard during the second day when word got out about the wake, and people started coming in either alone or in twos. I dealt with a well-meaning aunt and a good friend one after another, and then another after that. Retelling the story exhausted me, I realised. Especially when I hadn’t adequately prepared myself.

So we cremated dad. Then we put him with my grandparents.

Due to the circumstances, I’m now putting my new apartment up for rent. I’m going to stay with mom till I’m certain she’ll be ok. If you need a place to stay, you can find the details here.

So yeah. How was your week?

  • It took me 3 tries to get that sentence out. As you can tell, it’s not one of my happier sentences to write. xD

007: Heaven

Image of storks from my own collection
Image of storks from my own collection

The first thing she was aware of was the feel of the gentle breeze caressing her cheek.

It was a constant, gentle thing, a cooling wind to blow away the cares of the day. She found herself breathing easily, enjoying the breeze. Each breath she took brought new aromas, opened her senses to more information about this place.

The scent of wildflowers. Of freshly-cut grass. The cleanliness of a river.

A beautiful meadow, she thought to herself, her mind instantly casting back to when she was just five years old, and her parents had taken her and her brother on a family picnic. That one moment, when she was a child, walking in the tall grass.

“Open your eyes, Alice,” the brimstone voice of the demon broke her reverie.

Alice opened her eyes to find herself standing on a small hill, under the shade of a large yew tree. Around them, she could see people about them, frozen in a moment. Some were running after each other. A few were sitting on picnic blankets, sharing food. She even saw a couple kissing passionately, lovers entwined with each other, forgetting the world. Her cheeks turned red and she looked away.

“You may speak, child,” the demon’s voice seemed to unlock Alice’s lips, and she found the questions tumbling out.

“Where is this? What am I doing here? Why is everyone frozen?” Alice found herself hyperventilating, panic rising in her chest for no reason.

“Breathe, child. You are not in danger here. This…” he waited till Alice had taken two deep breaths and released them before he continued, “Is heaven. A place where those who are sinless and those who have done good, are taken to rest. Frozen, in a moment of time, at their happiest.”

“What… what is it that you wish me to do here then?”

“We want you to destroy Heaven,” she looked at him as though he had gone mad.

He grinned, and sat down. Alice could not help but think how absurd it was, that here, in the sunlight, in what was supposed to be one of the holiest places, a demon, complete with horns, cloven feet, and thin tail, was sitting happily on the ground. And looking up to HER as though she was going to do the impossible.

“What?” she blinked and stared at him.

“Corrupt Heaven, Alice. This is the price you will pay.”

“But how?” she took a few steps back from him and held her hands open wide, to emphasise her words.

“I leave that up to you. Let me know when it begins, hmm?” the demon leant against the Yew tree, closed his eyes, and soon began snoring.

Alice did not dare to even think of running away. She had made a bargain, and she would stick with it. The question that arose, of course, was how do you corrupt heaven?


Heaven, they say, is a place on earth.

Or that it’s something you work on. I don’t know. And to be honest, I stopped caring a long time ago.

Heaven, to me, is a state of mind. It’s a moment of bliss, a moment of happiness. A moment where everything clicks. When you feel right, and that everything around you is right. A moment that you would want to freeze. So as to remember it forever.

I don’t want to freeze time.

I know I don’t want to die. I have a lot of things to live for. I always had, I’ve just never had the courage to admit it to myself. But that’s beside the point.

I like the idea of Heaven, but I don’t like what you have to do to get there. That separation is painful. And if there is nothing in this life after death, it is also pointless.

Much better to love and appreciate the people around you instead while they are here. Heaven shouldn’t be a place you wait to meet those who’ve gone before. By the time you’ve found out, it’ll be too late.

Heaven should be a place on earth. Or rather, a person on earth.

Moments of happiness. Of life.

I don’t want to leave this plane. I don’t want to leave my friends, my family, my loves. I want to live here. To be here. Eternal happiness is nothing if the people I care about are not there.

Hell, they say, is other people. But I’m willing to be in Hell if my loved ones are in hell. Because my heaven are the people I care about.

And apparently I can care quite a bit.

This entry was written for the 100 Themes Challenge. For the full list, click here.