In memory of Poologasingam Mapanapillai departed 1-4-1989
This thread is not about venting or bitch but just recoding my thoughts bout the fateful day my dad passed away and evens prior and post that... Its not meant to burn anyone.. just me and my thoughts
22 years ago my dad passed away
1989 1st of April will always leave a mark on me and directly and indirectly change my perception of what family and relatives mean to me and events following that further cemented that.
Being a young kid from an inter-marriage that did not work out too well my family left my dad and came to live under the guardianship of my uncle who was also married to my father's sister thus the inter-marriage, they too did not work out too well and so it came to be. Family politics were always vicious and being young children sometimes we were used as pawns by the males. Both sides has their wrong and no one wanted to look at the bigger picture.
In 1984 Summer Olympics, my uncle (who was my guardian) his wife aka my father sister has passed on. The funeral was more of a territory war then a reunion, ugly situation was ever present during the funeral and the 31 day prayers that follow and that lead to a "no fly zone" ruling to separated the family my dad's side and my uncle's side. At this funeral the battalion of mourners, supporters and relatives all 'turn padang' so to speak and events during that and the following years we ended up like estranged family members separated by the politics and family war.
Life does go on and I grew up in Klang, under the thumb but could never speak ... I rebel a lot and that lead to a lot of things right and wrong. There is always the stigma of the broken family or the single parent, I used to cringe the report card day or sports days when parents would turn up especially dads and fren would ask where is ur dad etc etc I am not being bitter my father was not around, I understood the reasons for that and grew up with it. Most of my frens as I grew up never knew my story and I never shared.
April 1 was a Sunday when I went to bed when I was woken up and informed my dad has passed away, the first words was this must be an April Fools joke!! alas it was not. I was summoned downstairs and the powers that be decreed that I was going alone for my dad funeral and no one else from the family were to go for the funeral. The first thoughts in my mind was WTF!!! My mom, and the rest of te relatives was also barred from going.
I was numb not sleeping that night as I went upstairs, there was a flurry of phone calls and other things taking place, bout 3am I was informed that I would be put on a train in the morning to Kluang for the funeral and to return back when it is over. So much for family and its politics,
That Monday morning, here is your ticket, here is some pocket money ok off you go for your dad's funeral you uncles (dad's side) would meet you at the station...the 8+hour train journey to Kluang all alone left a mark on me, as sat on the steps of the train near the door looking out, I question many a times why I was sent alone, why the politics of family were like this and if I deserved such a treatment. Tears did flow as I struggle to put the pieces together.
How would my dad's relatives receive me, how would the funeral be, what was I supposed to do, where are my uncles and aunts and family to support me, where were my cousins to provide the support and shoulder... all those thought and more accompanied me on that journey...I had to keep repeating myself about how he was found dead, asking why he was alone..... how it was so sudden.. to a stage I felt so overwhelmed.
As I came closed to my destination, having not slept the night before, drained by my thoughts and not eaten thru my journey I returned to my seat tired and down, I had dozed off as I awoken to the sound the train had reached Kluang, I struggled to get out of the train and by the time I could grab my belonging and hop out on to the Kluang station the train was already rolling.. I would see both my uncles (dad's younger brother and brother in law) trying to find me at the station, half my thought was to jump out of the train but it was too risky.
No cell phone those days lol.. the minute I did not get down my dad's relatives panicked wondering where I was, some thought went as far if my uncles (mon's side) had changed their mind and renegaded on the deal. I got down at Simpang Renggam a town alien to me and grabbed a cab to Sunrise Park my grand father house in Kluang that I grew up.
It was a roller coasted of emotions as I got down from the cab walking to the house, as my dad's side relatives uncles and aunts came to embrace me crying and all that and I was numb... my grandfather embraced me and I did not see my dad's body.. apparently it had not arrived from Kuala Lipis and when it did, it arrived in a fisherman lorry as they could not get a hearse, that sparked off another roller coaster of emotion. The funeral went alright, all the rituals and wat nots were done... and over with.
I placed one phone call to say i had arrived and the one who spoke on the phone never even ask how was I but asked why I missed the station and the problems I had caused .. yeah i know another WTF moment
Post funeral as I was sitting at my grandfather's swing my cousins on my dad sides did not approach me, they were younger and was wondering who was this stranger who claims to be their eldest male cousin..My dad who I had not communicated much over the past 9 years after separation, excerpt an occasional meet up, birthday cards once in a while, yet for the funeral so much of his friends & and people who knew him came up to speak to me after the funeral.
What amazed me was the fact he was always top class to his frens and his family, tales of buying food, or a breath of fresh air when he walked into the room, helping his family, teasing his sisters and his parents kind of like the naughty rebel that people loved. There was his dark side but you dont talk about those thing in funerals a big NO NO lol. The 2-3 days I was there, I was welcomed by my dad's side family but I was also the outsider being there having not associated with them for a long time.
I would never wish what I went thru to anyone, the emotional and physiological impact on a 17 year old kid can never be truly put down in words. Monthly following that events I went south in studies, sports, family and many others, I did not do stupid thing like smoking or drugs, but i did go south.. it took me a long time to turn it around but I did, I still could not come to terms but I learn to live with it.
The kicker was after the funeral, my aunt called me in Kluang and asked if I was ok and how I was holding up, I do treasure that call and I learned later on that my aunt got a ticking off from the powers that be for making that call. That was the only person that reached out to me... sad but true. when I got back to the day to day life some of my frens in school knew about it and offered condolences but I never talked about it.. was never sure if it was coz I had rage or I decided to pack it in... maybe a little of the both...
A few years later after my dad's funeral apparently the powers that be has soften their stand and had a change of heart and went of to a few funerals of my dad's side especially my grandfather where the who family plus relatives showed up.... so now my immediate family which is my mum and my sis are the bad sheep coz they did not show up at my dad funeral and the rest of the family are forgiven.. why oh they showed up at my grandfather funeral and all is patched up...
So here was a conundrum... why is it for your dad funeral they sent you alone but for your grandfather funeral everyone came running....crude but true.. so much for principals and righteousness. I would never comprehend or understand the decisions principals and decision that were made, I never forgive my relatives for dancing to that tune. It was a train journey that changed the way I think and looked at how a family and relatives should be.
In a family when you make a choice and a principal you can enforce it across the board, never do, do not police or enforce your decision to other family members, they have a right to decide and stand on their own feet.
Like these days I have a grudge so to speak with my number 9 uncle who played out my mum, my mum forgave him but I did not, I do not speak to him for what he did to my mum but the rest of my family can interact with him and even my son gives him the proper respect for my beef is only with him and the rest of my family should never be a party to that.
I always try to encourage to my cousins that family is important, that relatives are important and make the effort to keep in touch. For me I will never allow another situation that I went thru to ever come to play with any of my cousins, that would be the last and it ended with me.
In the end it was a train ride that changed me..