Did You Know?

But you don’t, do you? And you’d never know.

I saw you just now. But you didn’t know. You know nothing. And it is best left at that.

I hope you were happy. I really do.


Life Is A Comedic Mess of Tragedies

In our desperation, we see what we want to see. But in my desperation, I see people as they are and worse; unfeeling, unemphatic and selfish hypocrites. I’ve been watching more feel-good movies and dramas just to feel some hope; to lie to myself that maybe reality isn’t that harsh and things could very well have a happy ending.

Furthermore, while I’ve been pushing away thoughts of my dead granddad, I still see the people I love dying. I get the occasional nightmare of a loved one dropping dead and end up crying in my sleep. In the past, my dreams used to be my refuge from reality, but now, even that little shred of where I might belong is fading.

My friends think I’m happy and my life is a comedy. But my life is a tragedy. My existence is what it is. In these few months, this is the closest I’ve come to wanting to die. It feels much different than the teenage depression I’ve faced.


Another Death Within The Month

My aunt died of breast cancer last Monday, leaving behind her husband and two daughters; one of whom is my god-sister. I wasn’t told until I booked out of the god damn military camp. Because of tradition and custom, my family most regrettably cannot attend her funeral as we are still in mourning.

I was not particularly close to this aunt of mine. But I had stayed at her house on several occasions when I was a kid. She was always pleasant.

I have not yet seen my god-sister. And I know that she isn’t taking it well. I would go ballistic if I were her.  Nothing I say will be able to bring back her mother. And no words will comfort her.

Less than a month ago, I had to watch my granddad die and now, my aunt. How many more deaths do I have to face? Asking why is fruitless. There is no one who can answer that. God doesn’t exist.

Loneliness is not a bad experience if you were lonely for most part of your life. Being alone can be a tranquil feeling. The problem occurs when you let people in and forge a genuine bond with them. Breaking the thread that entwine two hearts or more is terrible. The roaring silence and the dark empty void consumes you. You sit within the darkness and the shadows reach out, grabbing you with their cold, cold palms. You have no choice but to accept their embrace and comfort. And you join the ranks of those who no longer want to feel love and ultimately pain.

People have their vices. And they use their vices to forget; alcohol, sex, cutting, drugs and so on.

The reality of life is that we are lonely individuals who are born alone and die alone. The people who support us and love us will ultimately die off. If they don’t die, they reject you. Life is a joke and a game that you cannot win. The end result and destination is death. Hope, dreams and love allow you to last longer in the game. And the most you gain out of the game are extra fleeting moments of happiness, sadness, satisfaction, discomfort and pain.

Maybe its the extra time that matters. I don’t know…



I See Death Everywhere

These days, when I hear the phone ring I automatically think that there’s bad news. My mind wonders if it should prepare itself for another person’s death.

People are born only with the final destination of death. Where there were hopes and dreams, there is now a melancholic reality that death is the final outcome. Everywhere, there is death. There was news of a young man dying in the military today. And the fact is, people die everyday.

More often, I see the death of my loved ones, my friends and my camp-mates. I envision them within a coffin and I don’t know how to deal with it.

And it is as if I can’t get the image of my granddad being mechanically pushed into the crematorium fires. I’ve been searching for videos of that scene; of a coffin being cremated by computerized machinery. And I get confused as to whether I have come to terms with the death of my granddad.

Maybe it is because it has been only a week. I should give it more time. And I shouldn’t isolate myself from friends. I’m killing myself with the insanity within.



From Life To Death, From Death To Decay

Three days isn’t a long interim to accept the loss of a loved one. But in Hindu custom, the transient nature of life and death is of essence.

Three days ago, I witnessed and held the hand of a dying old man. I spent more time than my previous visits with a silent and heaving old man. The day that followed, I gazed at and grasped the cold palm of my dead grandfather in disbelief. And yesterday, from the side of his coffin, I stared at Tata’s face cold, waxy and dead and held his hand again crying.

Ashes and Bones

Today, I went back to the crematorium completely in shock. Where there was a coffin and a familiar body within laying on the stone slab, there is now ash, dust and bones. Nothing prepares you to witness the transition from life to death, and from death to decay. I shook as I picked the bones of my Tata to place into the clay urn. I found it difficult to comprehend that the bones and ash were the composition of my living grandfather three days ago.

At one point of the ceremony, we had to scoop milk with our hands to pour into the urn calling out to Tata and indicating our offering. My aunt broke down. And when it was my turn, I cried. The words I was supposed to say was stuck at ‘Tata”. Why was I talking to ashes and bones? Why had I not talked more to my grandfather when he was alive?

From the crematorium we drove silently towards Changi Ferry Terminal. My uncle who was in ceremonial garb held on to the urn of his father’s ashes crying. There I sat beside him, placing my hand on his shoulder for comfort. As I took in reality of the last few days, I began guffawing silently at the front. I didn’t want my tears to be the trigger for my aunt (who knew Tata longer than I did) to start sobbing.

The journey on the boat was terrible. Everyone was dreading the symbolic letting go of my grandfather. We were headed to the waters near Pulau Semakau. When we neared our destination, my uncle in ceremonial garb sat at the edge of the boat and held on to the urn. I took my eyes off the urn for a second and at that moment it was dropped into the sea. The moment the urn sank into the ocean, with the red cloth wrapped around flowing at its side, I began to cry. My Tata was gone.

That marked the finality of the ritual. Between the day he died to the sixteenth day, the fire lamp in front of my granddad’s picture at the main house must burn continuously. The fire lamps on our god altars at home must be extinguished. We cannot enter temples. We cannot pray. We are required to be vegetarian if the situation permits. We are in mourning.

And at night, the dark house without the light from the fire lamp is a constant reminder that he is no longer here with us. This really is goodbye…




Goodbye Tata. Rest In Peace. This Is Logen Here.

I’m emotionally drained. I have gone through bouts of shock, crying and numbness the past few days. I will never hear his voice, see his missing-tooth smile and speak with him again. I’ve lost my opportunity to hear what he wanted to tell me the last time. My granddad is dead.

Since Tuesday, my granddad slept and never woke up. I only learnt of the news on Friday, upon which I closed my bedroom door and cried. My grandmother had informed the entire family to visit him. She knew the inevitable was to happen soon. It was our last chance to see him alive.

Knowing the significance of her warning, I put down my work to visit my granddad on Saturday. The old man was lying on his bed, eyes closed, heaving and breathing heavily. My mother tried to wake him up from his slumber to no avail.

I Wish I Could Go Back In Time

I, too, tapped his shoulder continuously, begging for him to wake up. I know he could hear me saying,

“Tata (Tamil for granddad), wake up. This is Logen here… Tata! wake up!”.

His breathing became faster as if he was struggling to wake up just to see me. But he just couldn’t.

I left the room and headed towards the main door of his house. I ended up crying again, questioning if I was the only one who could feel how weak he was.

After everyone else vacated his room for the living room, I went back in and dragged a stool to his bedside. I held his cold hand, and rested my other palm on his forearm, hoping that the gesture would reassure him that I was there. I watched his chest as it heaved for breath. I resolved to sit there much longer than I normally would because intuition told me it would be my last.

Bending to his ear, I called out loudly to him again. Maybe he didn’t hear me the first time round because of his bad sense of hearing. I could smell his musty breath. And it told me that he was dehydrating from not drinking much water since Tuesday.

Looking about his room, I noticed the picture of Lord Ganesha (the deity who is supposed to remove obstacles from your life). In my desperation, I stared at the image and willed the deity to help my grandfather. But I guess, not even god has the power to reverse the course of life and death. And furthermore, Tata had been praying to die these few years, so that his suffering would end.

Before I left, I touched his face, bent down and said to him, “Tata, I’m Logen. I’m going home now.” Intuition told me that he would not survive the week.

Body Laying At Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

The following day, I was woken up with news that he had passed away. I was tired, I closed my eyes thinking that it must have been a dream. It wasn’t.

We rushed down to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, attempting to beat the time when they would remove his body for an autopsy. The moment I saw him wrapped in white sheets, there was water in my eyes. There it was, his serene face and mouth slightly open to expose his missing tooth. This time I held his hand, it was completely cold. Death is absolute…

Because of complications, we were unable to fulfill his wish upon death. He wanted all his organs donated. Years ago before HOTA was enacted, he proudly showed me his organ donation card. This card was to inform strangers and medical staff (if his death occurred suddenly) that they had to contact the organ donation organisation immediately upon death. We could not fulfill his wish  because too much time had elapsed and his organs had shut down.

Before he was taken for the autopsy, I grabbed his forearm, telling him goodbye. I had to… I just had to say it to his physical body.

The Funeral At Mandai Crematorium

Although I’m mix-blooded (Indian-chinese), I have never once attended a Hindu funeral before. My Chinese-side grandfather’s funeral was painful enough. But being a child at that time meant that the adults tend to shield you from the unfamiliarity of death customs, rites and rituals.

Hindu Cremation

This time, I don’t know if it was the unfamiliarity of the Hindu funeral rites, the finality of Tata’s death or both. I broke down near the toilet of the crematorium, away from my family, so that they wouldn’t see. Thinking that I had no more tears left, I entered the viewing hall. The moment I saw the large photo of Tata with incense burning in front, I broke down again.

There are many things in a funeral that force you to come to terms with the fact that a person is dead. Reality kept hitting my stubborn disbelief that Tata was dead. And every time reality hit, I felt someone wrenching my heart and I felt fear at the prospect of not seeing him again.

The coffin arrived shortly accompanied with Hindu hymns and music. I ended up guffawing in tears. Reality hit me again.

Removing my slippers, I joined my family to say our goodbyes. At the sight of his face, my lips trembled with grief. The funeral makeup made him look unfamiliar and I kept asking myself where was my granddad. I touched the old man’s hands and face for long, tears streaming down my face.

Throughout the procession, whenever the opportunity arose, I moved towards his coffin to touch his face. I don’t know what I was hoping for. Maybe I felt that physical contact could make me feel as if he was still here.

My Pati (grandmother), who had been so strong throughout, not crying, ended up bawling by his coffin. The terrible wail pulled my heartstrings and everyone in the hall began tearing. Reality was doing a good job of wearing down this stubborn disbelief that my Tata was dead.

My aunt went ballistic and sobbed continuously, desperately begging, “I want Ah Pa. I want Ah Pa…” This was the first time I viewed my aunt as my grandfather’s daughter. I saw the little girl within her who desperately wanted her father but death is absolute.

I realise that in our grief and desperation, we become kids in grown up bodies. We try to control circumstance, plan our lives and trick ourselves into thinking that circumstance is completely within our hands. It actually is not. For a while, things happen the way we want it to. And then, bam! something unexpected happens; something irreversible; something we have no influence over. The desperation drives us to become helpless kids again.

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwM-u-ldPr0[/pro-player]

Life is cruel. Suffering is the norm. People are born and die alone (quote courtesy of Tata). People regret their trespasses when it is too late. I regret my trespasses when it is too late.

I’ll never know what Tata wanted to tell me. This is my regret. If I knew he would meet his quietus, I would have woken him up two weeks ago when I visited. I did not. I regret this. I regret not telling him that I love him when I held his cold hand at his bedroom.

Tell me what comes next…



Ushering Melancholy And 2012

Melancholic. I’ve used this word so much that it means little. Should I say I feel bleak, hopeless, gloomy and dreary instead?

The new year has prodded me into thinking about life and what will happen after my stint at the army. It has reminded me about why my desire to be happy is just a pipe dream; and I’ve been sucessful at forgeting this dreadful reason for months, until now. Like I said in my prior post, don’t judge me or presume you know me. Don’t ask me the wherefores of my sadness out of curiosity.  Don’t talk down at me. At the same time, shut the fuck up about god.

I feel as if I’m stuck in another dimension, while everyone else is moving on with life, settling down in normalcy and conventionalism. I guess, this is the point where I stop and doubt myself and my existence. No longer can I cry. The closest I’ve gotten to crying is when I drink. And that’s also the time I feel most human.

You know what… I’m supposed to be writing my resolutions for 2012. Here they are…

1. Resume Aikido training (or switch to Yoshinkan Aikido)

2. Regularly produce content for my 2 other websites (at least once a month)

3. Learn conversational Thai

4. Earn US$300 from direct advertising (by June)

5. Make US$150 in domain sales (by June)

6. Become slimmer and tone my body

7. Take up a sport (other than martial arts)

8. Do a cover of Zombie accompanied by guitar music for Youtube

9. Complete a marathon

Happy new year people…