I’m beginning to get very scared of this world.
I lost my Aunty Sok Ping today at approximately 2.10pm. At about 10.30am, she propped a ladder onto a table in the backyard to do some stuffs to the windows on the 1st floor. The ladder slipped from the table and she fell together with the table. She was unconscious the moment her head hit the floor. I don’t know how long the ambulance took to come or if they even had an ambulance for her in the first place. She was sent to Pantai Hospital in Malacca.
My mother called me while I was watching 10,000 B.C. in the cinema. She told me that my aunty had a bad fall. It was at about 1pm that time. She then went on to say that it is serious. Immediately I knew that it is not good and started bawling and ran out of the cinema with Lie Yuen. While sobbing and sitting on the steps, I continued talking with my mother on the phone and she advised me to get the earliest bus ticket to Malacca.
I bought my bus ticket and I’ll be leaving Sg. Petani at 11am tomorrow. Will be missing many days of classes.
I went home still breaking down every now and then and kept mumbling to Lie Yuen and Cze-Yin about how 2008 IS a horrible year. Lie Yuen said that I shouldn’t think of it that way because maybe my aunty is an exception?
Another death was reported in the news when I went back home. Zakaria died. I’d have more to say on the matter but even in this state of sadness, my eyebrows are raised.
At about 3 something, my father called me on my landline. He then broke it to me, “Jo..Yee Ma passed away.”
You know, those words were like precious porcelain being dropped from a table top. You see it dropping but you have absolutely no power to catch it.
I bawled hysterically into the phone as Lie Yuen and Cze-Yin barged into my room and comforted me.
My Yee Ma was like a second mother to me. As she is divorced, she has been living with my grandparents ever since she was in her mid twenties. She is in her mid-fifties now. I think she is about 54 or 55. She was a school teacher at SMK Notre Dame and was about to retire this year.
She was an extremely colourful lady with tons of plans for her retirement. Bordering on eccentric, she was one of my most favourite aunties for her young-at-heart ways and a very simple lady who had a lot to say. Heck, a week before chinese new year, she made me teach her how to put on false eyelashes.
As she was really looking forward to her retirement, she was also on a learning binge. During chinese new year, she made sure she learned alot of photoshop skills from my graphic designer cousin Hong Fei, she made my father teach her to access folders on her computer, she asked me and my brother to teach her how to play the Nintendo games on my grandmother’s Nintend DS lite.
I asked her, “Why learn so many things Yee Ma?” From what I saw, it was a case of a Jack Of All Trades, But A Master of None.
She replied, “Hey, all the sifus are here ma. I must learn alot alot before all of you go. Need to grab the oportunity while you all are here!”
We joked about how she was so gung-ho about learning things that she’ll probably have no use for but that was my aunty, this simple enthusiastic lady who takes interest in any and everything.
As I mentioned, she divorced at a young age and her two kids grew up in Ipoh while she lived with my grandparents in Malacca. Every holiday of mine was spent in Malacca playing with my cousins. Yee Ma would be the one making barbie doll dresses for us on her sewing machine(I had a beautiful collection of dresses for my dolls… no money can ever buy those dresses. My aunt used her scrap materials and random sequins. It was probably the happiest afternoon of my kiddy life.). She would also make her beautiful sago pudding and her agar-agar that we would devour when we were kids.
I vow to pass down her simple recipe of Maggi Mee with oyster sauce and tomato sauce to my friends and my children. Perhaps the best bed time snack I was allowed to have after brushing my teeth.
You know how chinese hate to waste food right? She is also quite a thrifty woman but flour must’ve been cheap as she used to buy bags of it and mixed it with water to make dough for us to play with. We would scream with delight whenever a batch is ready and go out to the pavement and make dough-mans. She tried to teach us to paint the dough figurines but we had more fun building more things than patiently painting each and every dough figurine.
On windy afternoons, she would send us into a flurry of excitement by saying, “Let’s go to the beach!!” and we would pack in her car and head to Klebang beach. Even if it was probably the dirtiest beach I’ve seen in my life, it was fun because it was the only beach I knew back then. I enjoyed playing with sand and collecting seashells and letting the water reach only up to my knees(for it was quite dirty. So nothing higher.).
My brother is right. A part of our childhood died with her.
My Yee Ma is perhaps the most creative person I’ve ever known. She enjoys going OTT with decorations and almost anything that she can ‘pimp’. At my grandfather’s funeral, I think she actually enjoyed the process of making the lotus flowers with tealights floating on her pond, the flower deco around my grandfather’s photo and anything else that she can beautify. You should see her house during chinese new year. She painstakingly paints the chinese calligraphy words and paste them all around the house, hangs angpows from the ceilings etc.
I remember being asked in my Communications class back in year 2 by my lecturer, “Who is the one person whom inspires you the most?” I proudly told the class that it was my aunty because even though she battled cancer, her optimism for life was so strong. It made us healthy individuals look invalid. I really admire her enthusiasm for every single thing and that lovable tidak apa attitude that I will miss so so much.
Yes, she battled breast cancer too back in 2002. Going around proudly announcing the cost of her surgery – RM12- and how it’s great to have wigs as she can change her hairstyle as she likes. Isn’t my Yee Ma the greatest human ever? The perfect example of a lemonade maker when she is thrown lemons at.
Don’t blame me for this – but I sometimes fear for my family members and would imagine possible demise for them. It’s not because I’m evil it’s because I’m very very worried each and every second for every one of them. As for my aunty, I have always been worried that her cancer might come back. Instead, her end was just a slip off the ladder, which was propped on a chair. If my grandmother was standing there, she would’ve scolded my aunty to not be so silly.
My grandma nags at my 50+ year old aunty and she’d usually nudge me and say, “It doesn’t stop! Even when you’re as old as me, your mother will still nag at you!” She was the coolest aunty ever.
Do you know that I actually pass down clothes to her?! She’s slimmer than me, even more so after she went for her Marie France Bodyline treatment. She’d call me fat every time I put on weight and make me give her whatever that looks too small on me. Sometimes I’m even wearing that particular piece of garment and she’d say how I’m practically bursting out of it so just hand it over already! 🙂 My dear funny aunty. Sigh.
Her love for all the things in the world also contributed to her talents in a whole range of things.
She used to have a dance troop that performed chinese opera songs around Malacca. She was also very much into cooking. She made costumes for her dancers and she even made ballet shoes to sell – the result of her passion for sewing. For awhile, she was also very good at wielding iron. I remember wondering what in the world she wanted to be good in iron wielding for. She’s also a damn good masseuse. She joined singing classes and dance classes in her later years.
We used to tease her that if she owns a shop, it would have a super long signboard to accommodate her many talents.
If any of you remember that beautiful house in Malacca, she made half the things with her own hands. She laid down the parquet flooring, she utilized her iron wielding skills and made the railings and stuff, she built the frames for the windows.. and still the house cost her about half a million. That four storey bungalow that my Yee Ma has always been extremely proud of. I’m extremely proud of her.
She had an extremely loud fashion sense. Also a stem from her tidak apa attitude, she has the most extravagant clothings a person can ever own. Also a damn large amount of jewelry. As in costume jewelry, mind you. She, being the slightly strange woman that she was, kept her REAL jewelry in a plastic bag. She just dumped it all to my mother and said, “Nah, I have no use for these.” Real diamonds, real gold, real white-gold. She preferred her costume jewelry over the genuine stuff.
Part of her carefree attitude was due to her strong religious values. She was a devout buddhist and I found truth in this nugget of an information from her, “What I learned from Buddhism was to be free of attachments. That’s why I am so happy, Jo. When a person die, he brings nothing with him. And that’s the way I chose to live. That’s why I’m happy today,” she said with a smile.
She will be deeply missed. Malacca will never ever be the same without her. I’ll probably be returning to Malacca less should my grandmother decide to stay with us.
That’s my aunty in green with two halves of my parents. Taken when we went to Singapore for the family company trip back in April 2006. Isn’t she beautiful? I’ve always thought that she looks like Lisa Wang. I’ve told her that countless of times. Mainly because I loved seeing her face light up going, “REALLY?!! THANK YOU JOJO!” and then smother me with kisses.
That’s my aunt. She’s never short of affections for my family. Always grabbing us and kissing us whenever she sees us.
She calls me “My Little Princess!” much to my chagrin. But you can’t imagine how many times I’m playing those words in my head now.
I miss her so so much.
Rest in peace, Yee Ma. You shouldn’t have climbed that ladder.
I promise myself that her death will be the one death that will strengthen me for the many deaths that I will know of in my life time. There is only so many pieces I can break into. I need to find a way to deal with death. Maybe it’s time to turn to religion.