“Look, dear, your grandpa is here.”
When I was a kid, my mother told me never kill a praying mantis (the insect) because it is an old man praying. She also told me never kill dragonfly because there is an old woman sitting on it’s back. I guess she knew I like to pull the legs and wings out of mosquitoes to torture them so she used this scare tactic to save other insects.
So, that praying mantis was crawling on the head of my grandparents-in-law’s tombstone this morning and I had the fun of taking pictures of the insect, grass, smoke, morning dew and etc.
Pity my hubby has to throng the hills on his own, I decided to wake up early and follow him (pssstt….cos the sis-in-laws are all not free to go) to pay homage to his paternal grandparents.
“Dear, at what age did you start this apprentice of Ching Ming?”
Hubby told me his father took him up this hill in Gottlieb Road since he was very, very young. He said he was about Matthew’s age. He even remembered sitting up the on the hill and wonder why the cars keep going up the tunnel and going down the tunnel. (due to the hilly terrain, he could only see them disappearing and appearing)
He doesn’t even know the name of his grandpa, when he died, due to what or what he did in his youth. It is just a habit that hubby’s parents handed down to him to go for Ching Ming every year.
Many years ago, before I got married, there were two years when I failed to get on the hill. On the first year when I joined hubby in taking my yet-to-be-mil and father-in-law, I woke up on the morning with a severe stomachache. The following year when I was still a girlfriend, we were on the way to Ching Ming this old lady and old man’s grave and we got into an accident. Instead of heading up the hill, we ended up in the police station with a wrecked car and some chicken and duck in the car boots. So, I was telling myself that old lady grandma-in-law probably refused to let me, a sinful live-in-girlfriend from, stepping foot on her tomb. Never mind, I am bull-headed and years after years I used to cook the chicken for her as a grand-daughter in-law (until I jumpship to Yehsou). This morning, I ran down to the market and got her three yellow roses. “You don’t have many choices, grandma-in-law. I am the only descendant who still bother to come to your grave. So, if you give me stomach ache again, your grandson also cannot deliver the bag of clothes and gold and treasures for you, ok?”
So, take the yellow roses I selected for you. And bless your great-grandsons, ok? The rose only costs RM1 per stalk but I know they will look beautiful in my photos.
From Gottlieb Road, it is the annual visit to another grave in Sepuluh Kongsi. This time, it is the son of this old couple, i.e. hubby’s uncle who died young, and was a bachelor. This is grave is near my own parents’ grave.
It is quite a sad grave because they didn’t give him a proper tombstone last time (probably due to poverty). Now, what is left is only a piece of broken granite. There is no more demarcation of Uncle’s territory. In Chinese fengshui, no one is to touch an old grave no matter how broken it is. According to a contractor who used to do my house renovation, he said a family who did that ended up with the deaths of several sons. It is a taboo to ‘renovate’ a broken grave.
Anyway, Uncle is quite lucky that at least he has a nephew who still go and gave him an instant Ching Ming every year. A funny thing happened this morning. I was busy putting those yellow/white papers to mark Uncle’s territory. Hubby burned a bunch of joss-sticks. He passed it to me to hold (not to pray, ok?)while he opened the kueh plastic bag. The bunch of joss-sticks kept burning and producing big flames. So, I was giving the joss-sticks a few frantic shakes to blow out the fire.
Someone passed by and shouted, “Hoi your things are on fire!” The embers must have lighted up the pile of clothings and golds. Actually, the pile of things were quite far away from where I was standing. So, poor hubby tried to extinguish the fire but got burned by melted plastic bag. The whole thing ended up in flames before he even finished the ritual of setting out the kueh, pour the tea etc etc. We took it as a sign that Uncle told him, “Ok lah, got what you gave, just go home, no need to stand here in the hot sun for so long. Balik rumah lah. Forget the rituals, as long as you still come to my grave, I am happy enough.” We were there for less than 10 minutes!
And that concludes week one of Ching Ming. Hubby has to follow the hierarchy of his family. That means he must go to the eldest in the family, i.e. grandparents, then, uncle who is the older brother of his father and then, his own father. Next week, all my sons will have to start their Ching Ming apprenticeship. Hopefully, if time permits we get to join my own siblings for my own parents’ grave.