I tell you lah. During my own mader-in-law funeral hor, I had to force myself to cry because we were supposed to cry but I have very little feelings left as she had been in coma for a long time. Anyway, she had the same kind of ‘kong teik’ (elaborate taoist funeral rites) and I was the one who had to ‘brew’ the medicinal herbs supposed to cure her illness before she departed to the next world. It is one long ceremony of the taoist nun going up hill to pick leaves which will be put into a pot over charcoal fire. Then, I was supposed to fan the fire and brew it for her.
But yesterday (or rather tonight), the funeral rite was even sadder than my own MIL. While the daughter was brewing the pot of guava leaves with hot water, I cried and cried and cried. If there is an award for best actress, I would have won the Oscar for the most dramatic cry.
I tell you, it wasn’t my intention but I just cannot stop the tears. Actually, I never shed a single tear so far ‘cos you know lah, I admitted that I am not even close to the deceased. It was only these few weeks that we got acquainted by circumstances.
When I see that pot of ‘medicinal herbs’, I thought of the times I washed those ‘cancer leaves’ that my housekeeper (also the cousin sister of the deceased children) had plucked from her kampung. She would bring the bag of leaves and I would soaked them overnight. Then, I had to wash off the sands and boil it. I remembered the times I had to figure out how much brown sugar to put etc etc. Then, all those pots of fish and alphabet pasta I made. Those two leaves spinach, one slice fish, one garlic, half potato etc etc. Waaaaaa….so sad. And the pot of red beans I cooked at 3 am….etc etc.
It is sooooo darn sad. I just stood there and cried and cried and cried. I don’t care what his side of relatives think lah. “This woman siao or what, cry so much for what lah, not that she is related. Want to show off she is being filial kah?” My atm also leave me alone to cry all I want because I think he also knows how sad it is. It is like the finale. The last pot of herbs he is ever going to drink to heal him.
All these days, I never want to participate in their prayers because it doesn’t seem right. (I draw certain lines between respect for the deceased and prayers to their gods so I know when to step aside and when it is ok to join.) So, I had occupied myself with wiping the condensation on the coffin glass. It is sort of the last thing I could do for him.
After that medicinal herbs thingie, there is the ‘break the city gates’ for the soul to enter. Then, it is the final farewell where everyone is supposed to send him him to enter the gates.
I went to ask the Taoist monk, “Sifu, is it ok if I follow the ‘crossing the bridge’? Sifu damn understanding and explained to me that it is fine for Catholics because we honour our ancestors. He said it is only a rites to remember the deceased. (Bwahaha…I guess he knew that I was the one who suggested his troop to come and perform the rites, so better butter me, hor? The ceremony probably costs RM4K, wei.) He told me I can hold the joss-stick if I want. But I whispered to him, “I don’t mind but I don’t want my IBS 8-pohs to mistaken and confuse, so I shall just follow with the 10 coins.” My little boy enjoyed the whole 8 rounds across the ‘bridge’. We threw the 1 cent coin into a basin of water each time we make a circle. (we were left with two coins to take home for prosperity)
I tell you, damn drama ‘cos it rained cats and dogs with thunder and lightning. And many of the visitors were caught in the crazy jam due to the petrol price increased. My sister had to turn back because they couldn’t reach due to the kilometres of jam. Some petrol stations even ran out of petrol to supply. We missed the deadline ‘cos by the time the rite is over, it is 12.07 am so we didn’t fill up our Persona tank.
Anyway…my little boy has such beautiful explanation on everything. I am glad I brought him along (as we have no babysitter) to introduce him to some Chinese customs while blending it with our Christians’ faith.
“Mommy, they burn the house and then, it goes up to Jesus and so Jesus got many rooms for everybody lor.” (I tell you, it is so comforting to hear a wise quote like that. In My Father’s house, there are many rooms? Remember this verse?)
And when I asked him to give his last respect before we come home, he put his hands together, bow down and said bye-bye. I love my Catholic baby!
Funeral is today and hubby and I will have to wear mourning clothes. That will be the final thing that both of us can do for him. (It is 2 am and I am waiting for my black pants in the washing machine to complete washing before I put it into the dryer, for tomorrow.)
(I got video of the ‘breaking the city gates’. When I am free, I shall write the most elaborate Taoist funeral guide for the Dummies. It is something worth preserving because of the amount of filial piety put into the ceremony.)
Now, where is my eye cream. Doh!
Talk about the stupid KNNCCB petrol price increase lah. Did you filled up your tank? Lucky we top up the Naza Ria tank day before yesterday. When we returned from Telok Kumbar, the Rapid Penang buses were lined up in Sungai Tiram Petronas. I think the whole fleet of buses were there. When we passed by Shell, they had ran out of petrol. My hubby said all of us should park our car in the middle of the road and protest. Let the whole country comes to standstill. Ask UMNO to explain why a country like ours who produce petrol had to suffer like this. Gloomy days ahead.