And tonight, after work.

6 03 2009

My maternal grandparents died 15 and 16 years ago. One of my grandmother’s good friends was Mrs. Leung. We never knew her full name, but we were terrified of her as she was tough as nails. She also was never seen without a cigarette clamped between her fingers, which tapered down to claws for her own nails. She had a penchant for swearing, and had a more colourful vocabulary than your typical construction site worker. She also gestured a lot – with her hands and with her head – and her gold or jade earrings would swing madly in her elongated ear-piercings. I was scared of her, but in awe of her too. She raised her husband’s children single-handedly as he worked and then eventually died. As I grew older, I had more and more admiration for her tenacity and steely glare at the waitress whi shortchanged us.

Tonight, after work, I went to Mrs. Leung’s funeral.

She died, in a hospital room, on her own. She was 84, possibly 89 because of the way the Lunar calendar counts the days of the year. It was a traditional Taoist ceremony, which she had painstakingly saved her pension for, and the various musicians and conductors of the ceremony did their thing as they were being paid to. Her family, as ramshackle and motley as they were, walked around the paper-and-glue effigies of bridges and houses, made to ensure a comfortable environment in the afterlife.

I did not weep until I went to the glass door by the back of the altar and saw her in repose. She looked so peaceful, so unreal… it broke my heart that the last time I saw her I did not take the time to speak with her. I eavesdropped on the conversation she had with my mum, and chuckled as she ranted and raved about her daughters-in-law, and their laziness around the flat.

Bye-bye, Leung por-por. I will miss you.

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