Boy, has it been a very eventful week for me! Felt almost like working. Even until today, there seems no letting up on the things that are happening all around me. Attended a function on Sunday, went for a meeting and a talk on Monday, sat in at a workshop on Tuesday, climbed the hill at Bukit Mertajam on Wednesday, attended another talk on Thursday, went for an appointment at a private hospital on Friday (note: thank you for your concern but nothing to worry about) ... and these were only the major things I did during the week.
What about all the minor ones? Among them, I had to fit in the wake of an ex-colleague's father on Thursday night and there is another to attend this afternoon of a close family friend and the funeral itself tomorrow. I really hate all the driving around but what to do? They have to be done.
Anyway, the first wake I attended was that of pensioner Mr Johnny Cheah. A man in his mid-eighties, he was the father of Inn Kheng, one of my ex-colleagues at Ban Hin Lee Bank. I got to know Johnny from the Old Frees' Association. He was never afraid to make his opinions known or to mess his words during the OFA general meetings. But he always stammered whenever he got excited. Because of this, many members never took him seriously enough during the meetings. But somehow, he and I got along rather well. Maybe, I provided him with a sympathetic ear. I could understand his pride and his fears.
Last Sunday when I was at the association for a function, the secretary told me that some of the OFA members had visited Johnny at the General Hospital. He was in a bad way, Gerald Clyde said. This was news that kind of shocked me. Hospitalised. Well, I must see him. I told my wife that I would want to visit him. So I arrived at the hospital on Monday at about 6pm. What I saw was a person so unlike Johnny Cheah. Here was a bed-ridden patient in a very weak condition and moving in and out of consciousness all the time.
The medical officer said his heart was very weak but he should not be in such an emancipated state. The hospital was still checking his blood to determine the cause. Strange that the MO should say this because between being admitted on Thursday and my visiting him on Monday, there have been three clear days for the hospital to run enough tests.
But as I said, he was moving in and out of consciousness all the time. During one of those periods when he opened his eyes, he recognised me. Then he spoke something that struck a chord with me. "Seng Sun," he told me, his voice weak and quavering, "I can get better or I can die. I think I am going to die." He lapsed into a momentary sleep, then opened his eyes and coughed. He tried saying something else but unfortunately, though lucid, he was getting incoherrent. I couldn't understand more of what was said. I said my goodbyes to him soon afterwards.
When I left the hospital, the time was about 6.40pm. Storm clouds were already looming overhead. One hour later, Johnny Cheah was dead. A short message from his son came through on my mobile at 1.28am on Tuesday morning: "my father passed away at 7.40pm on 15 nov 2010."