Thursday, April 23, 2009


Just came back from a wake. LF's dad passed away. Though I am not at all close to him, I still hope he would get by this period well. My condolences. I heard it was pretty abrupt.

Anyway the main issue in this entry is the fact that I can't help but noticed how wakes are being conducted. I think for the past year, I have been to more wakes than I have for the past 10 years add together. And except for CS's more Christian wake, the rest of the more traditional wakes seemed a bit odd for me.

The conventional wake to me is for mourning. To that, I had always pictured a more melancholic atmosphere, where the loved ones, relatives and friends and/or family members' friends convene at the deathbed, hoping to see for the last time the deceased, before he/she passed on forever into intangible memories. And there is this pall of sadness and seriousness looming over the whole ceremony, tinged maybe with a little regret, hanging in the air; I had imaged that at least.

However, in reality, things are more different...

Today, as an example, it felt a lot like a social gathering. People were playing mahjong, laughing to the tiles. There were many chatting at tables, grinning to inside jokes and greeting 'long-time-no-sees' to the company at the table that they perhaps haven't met for years but just happened to have an occasion for a meet-up. A glaring contrast to the quiescent photo and the coffin that stood behind them.

Perhaps that sounds a little too harsh.

Ok, there are many people with neutral faces as well. Maybe I am just expecting some more extreme kind of melodrama. The wife weeping, kids crying. The others all sad and forlorn... Many of the were in their fifties, men and women. It made me wonder if they were belying their own fears of the inevitable, as they touched ground in the era of the half-centenarians. Somehow they seemed to have that etched on their faces. Not grim-faced grim, but the kind of resignation that can only exist when you have walked the earth for more than half a century. It seems kind of morbid to think this way: the living empathising with the dead, but not with the living.

The stark discrepancy between the stereotypical gloom and the actual neutrality of the whole scenario kind of obfuscates me somehow I guess.

Probably it reminds me of my mum's mentality and got me pondering. Already understanding, only now more... Probably it isn't resignation, more of acceptance. And that I feel, this could be more important than anything else. To her, and to the people she love. But still, the very thought of it wrenches the heart...

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