Friday, 18 November 2016

Happiness tinged with some sadness

I'm writing this either late at night of the 17th of November or the early hours of the 18th, depending on how fast I can finish this post.

I've just returned from the 93rd annual dinner of The Old Frees' Association on the island. This was supposed to be a happy occasion because finally, the Bicentenary Committee has acknowledged my role in this year's Bicentenary celebrations: the time that I had spent on Let the Aisles Begin and my many other activities, all in the name of the Bicentenary.

I have to admit that I was surprised to be called onto the stage. Never expected it. But here at the St Giles Wembley's ballroom, I went up to receive an appreciation gift from the Bicentenary Committee chairman, Abdul Rafique. I suppose it sort of partially compensated for being overlooked during the official launch of the book by the Raja of Perlis on 21 Oct 2016. Can you imagine an author not invited for the launch of his own book?

Me and my school pals: Huan Chiang, Swee Poh, Michael, Kok Hin, yours truly, Andrew, Kim Guan, Oon Hup, Chye Chye, Kah Theang and Teik Wah.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a happy occasion - and it was a happy occasion until I received a whatsapp message from a friend to inform me that Soo Ewe Jin, an executive editor at The Star Publication had passed away earlier in the day.

This news had a very sobering effect on me because even though I knew that he was battling cancer, I had on occasions exchanged messages with him through facebook. Our latest exchanges were on the 8th of this month but I never realised that they could be our last.

Ewe Jin was, of course, an Old Free some five or six years my junior in school. Unfortunately, I never had the occasion to meet him face to face, either at school or when he was working in the mass media.

I had wanted to see him last year on one of my rare trips to the Klang Valley but a traffic snarl on the North-South Expressway meant that I arrived late in Kuala Lumpur and meeting up with him was postponed. We never did manage to arrange another date. My loss and anyway, it's too late for that. So all I can say right now is that my thoughts are with his wife and two sons.

Below was his last message to me. Guess I won't be receiving any more from the late Soo Ewe Jin. Rest in peace, my friend.

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