Saturday, April 11, 2009

Someone will pay...

I have attended a few funerals but the one on 23 March was really heart-wrenching. It was the way she died... Just a week from her 40th birthday too. Her colleagues were planning a big party to celebrate.

One day, I heard a relative had been missing for 5 days. The next day, police had already found her body in Malacca, floating in the swamp. It happened so fast. 36 hours had passed and the body had already started to decompose then, so the forensic test results were off. She was 39, the test claimed 29. Nevertheless, the thumb print showed a 70% match. They are still waiting for the results of the dna test. However, her parents were worried that it was really their daughter so they decided to accept it and perform the funeral. Waiting further would torture the body. It was the weekend so they had to wait till Monday to claim the decease.

I dropped by at her parents' house for a short while. Family members, including many the from neighbouring country, gathered. Finally, at 5pm, the van arrived from Malacca and we adjourned to the mosque in Cheras for prayers. I couldn't imagine how the decease's parents felt. Even the guests were a bit confused, was it really her? And how did we move from 'not sure' to 'accepting that it was really her' within hours? Or are we performing this regardless of whether it was her but we are still hoping that she was alive out there somewhere?

Amazingly, her parents were extremely calm. One of her brothers is a tabliq member and he was so in charge that at first I thought he was the mosque's staff. Her twin brother who lived abroad flew back and started hitting the walls, screaming and all, he was still in shock. Her only sister really broke down, it was hard to digest. Even aunties, cousins, colleagues and friends couldn't stop crying from the mosque to the graveyard. (Muslims are discouraged from crying at funerals). And guest what, the decease's mother coolly consoled them, her smile remained.

At the graveyard, the victim's father slowly supervised the carrying and positioning of the coffin. It was tricky, the lot was right at a steep and uneven hillside, with trees blocking their ways. It was also 2 lots away from the decease's late grandfather's grave. It was in the 80s. He had just arrived from Jakarta. The taxi from the airport got involved in an accident and he was killed on the spot.

Family members gathered very close by. I could see everything clearly, I could still smell the freshly dug earth. They placed the coffin on the ground while waiting for the Imam to come up. The Imam asked 3 people to go into the hole to receive the body. The deceased brother, my youngest brother and a grave digger volunteered. They placed the body into the hole. The Iman asked them to make sure that the head faced Kiblat. They pressed earth into balls and used that to lock the body's position. After making sure that the body is tightly placed, they put a piece of plywood on top of it. All the men took turn to use two spades to pour earth on top of the plywood until the hole was filled.

The decease's non-Muslims colleagues observed from afar. After the burial, they carried the empty coffin back to the van. Even then, it was tricky going around the trees and uneven land. The decease's father asked her mother and sister to shorten their prayers and proceed to thank the guests. He even held a short speech to show his appreciation.

It was an unforgettable occasion. The decease's boss said she called a week ago to say that she fell down and strained her hand. Therefore, she couldn't go to work that night and asked for masseurs suggestion. Her boss advised her to go to the clinic and take MC instead. But she never called back. Night shifts were her favourite since she was an insomniac. Experts and layman all thought the same thing - the killer was someone she knew. It wasn't a matter of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I didn't know her well, had only met her a few times. People spoke highly of her. That she put others before herself and were always doing things for others. She was also a star employee, her wall at home didn't have enough space to put her awards. When I first heard the news, it struck me how similar we were and that it could have been me. She didn't drive and took LRT and monorail to work. She also lived alone. Up to a few days after the funeral, I was shivering-ly scared. I often slept late and left a few lights on outside. I even came close to asking my brother and sister in law to move back. Mr Designer sent me home a few times, and I think after that, the fear just faded away.

Al-fatihah for arwah.