Early in the yearI wrote about missing the funeral of my former teacher in Seremban due to my tardiness and job’s related tasks. I really felt like kicking my own backside for missing it. On Friday, I missed another funeral, this time my own uncle. This time I cannot blame my tardiness for missing it. I was prompt. As soon as I got the news I quickly phoned the wife in school to get ready and asked my daughter to postpone her trip to UniKL. I left a message with the Deputy Director’s PA and rush down to my own office brushing aside a few minor appointments. But then it was already almost 11am. Desperately trying to get the exact time for the funeral, I phoned up my brother and after several attempts he confirmed that the funeral would be after Jumaat. My uncle passed away at 8.50am and by 9.05 my hand phone had already registered three missed calls. Alas… despite the wonder of modern communication system, it still cannot beat thick brick walls of my office. You see my office is actually purposely built in the 90s as a TV recording studio. Due to lack of office space, the cavernous hall was converted to office cubicles. Unfortunately, what was designed to be sound proofed walls for TV production also proved to be hand phone – signal – proofed. Well, I am working in a cave so to speak. That explained why I did not get any calls from my brother until I happened to leave the cave for some errands in the main office. By the time I reached home to pick the wife and daughter, it was almost noon. How I wish I could borrow Jenson Button’s Brawn’s race car that day. My Serena can only max at 140km/h. I reached Chemor at 2.30pm, and it was a futile exercise to go to the cemetery 7km away. By then everything wouldbe over. And I missed another funeral. The sad thing is, I did not make a serious effort to visit him, even after I came back from Mecca, even after my brother had phoned early last month to inform me that the uncle was in hospitel. It seemed I never learned my lesson. I kept postponing visiting sick relatives and friends until it was too late. He was my only direct blood uncle left in this world. He was my late mother’s kid brother. He was our reference point and consultant when we wanted to know more about our family tree. I remembered the day my father died, he gathered us around to delineate our ancestors – all the way to Sumatra. That day I knew that, on my mother’s side, we were the descendants of the Megat Terawis – the great warrior in the court of Perak Sultanate. Hence I am honoured to use his name for this blog spot. I also discovered that my grandfather on my father’s side was a pendekar and a descendant of a king in Sumatra. He fled when the Dutch came to snatch my grandmother,who was a pretty 15- year old princess at the time.
Pak Cik Rahim, as we called him, was a great singer despite his disability. His right foot was deformed. He endeavoured to wear boots and worked as a school gardener until he retired in the nineties and continnue to tap rubber until his health deteroriated a few months back. He taught us the rudiments of Islam and recitation of the Quran. He was the muazzin for the village mosque. We all revered him. I remembered him telling me, in early nineties when I brought him to KL for a visit, that Kuala Lumpur is very strange city, it had many bridges but very few rivers. Later I realised that he was referring to the many road viaducts snaking across the city. A poignant observation indeed. May allah bless his soul and please God forgive me for not visiting him in his illness.
We rushed back from Chemor to KL yesterday so that my daughter can attend her friend’s wedding. At this time and age it is very rare to see a couple getting married at the age of 21. Not willing to miss another important occasion, we left Chemor by 11.30, just in time for my daughter to attend the wedding at 3.30 pm. Well at least I made it this time.
p/s. Farah Hanani, if you are reading this. Tok Rahim passed away on Friday morning. He was 73. Recite Alfatihah for him.