Friday, 5 July 2013

Forty-nine days tomorrow

I can't believe that tomorrow is already the 49th day since the passing of my aunt. Time does fly, doesn't it? Anyway, we shall have a busy full morning's programme ahead of us, starting with a visit to the columbarium at the Batu Gantong cemetery where her urn of ashes has been placed next to those of my parents.

We don't intend to spend too much time there. Just some minutes of prayers before we make our way to the Buddhist Triple Wisdom Hall in Pangkor Road. That's where their memorial tablet is located. Thanks to the ingenuity of the temple monks, each memorial tablet can actually accommodate more than one person's name. And so back in 1985, my father had ordered a tablet with all three names and pictures engraved.

For a long while, only my parents' pictures were displayed; that of my aunt was covered by a piece of red paper. But this paper was removed when the temple's monks recited prayers to commemorate the seventh day of her passing. I thought it would be some sort of ceremony involved to remove this piece of red paper but the monk just coolly took the tablet without much of an "excuse me", ran it under the tap to soften and wash away the glue and then placed it back on the stand.

From Pangkor Road, we intend to make a detour to the Kuan Im Temple in Pitt Street before we proceed to the Sri Mahindarama Temple in Kampar Road. The short trip to the Kuan Im Temple will be to distribute some food and fruits to the vagrants there. We shall be wiser now, and we shall repackage the food and fruits before going there. When we first did this six weeks ago without repackaging the items, it caused a little stampede there as the vagrants simply grabbed everything from us before we were ready.

After that, we hope to be at the Sri Mahindarama Temple before the dana offerings start at about 11.30a.m. Just some prayers by the monks to acknowledge that 49 days had really passed by. By 12.30a.m. or so, everything should have completed and my family can then spend some quality time together before heading back home.

When I was reflecting on my aunt's passing recently, it struck me that while tomorrow is the 49th day of her death, we will not have her around us for 60 days already. Where did the extra 11 days come from? I now consider the 11 days that she spent at the Institut Perubatan dan Pergigian Termaju (Advanced Medical and Dental Institute) in Bertam to be a sort of practice for us to prepare for the time when she would no longer be with us. True, we had visited her often at the IPPT but we still had to return home every night to an empty and quiet house.

When she was alive, every afternoon and evening would be her quality time in front of the television set. Whether she was watching her favourite serial shows or simply dozing off, the television set would be turned on. Nowadays, the TV set is more often switched off than on. That reminds me, I shall need to see the satellite television provider soon in order to readjust my packages. Time to unsubscribe from the Chinese channels.

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