Friday, May 27, 2011


by Ewong

I take back what I said in my last blog post. Or rather, I am keeping what I said before: summer had been cruel to me. I got hospitalised early this month (for the first time ever), puked my guts out and subsisted on dextrose for four days. A week later, my very sick cousin died. She'd been sick a very long time: complications from the thyroid storm which killed her unborn baby months before, and then malnutrition. A few days before she passed, she told my mum, pointing to somewhere in her hospital room, that she was seeing Jesus in bright light... Jesus, she was certain, and someone she called "S." Of course, my mum told my cousin to stay with the light, go with Jesus. And she did eventually.

And no one must go with "S." Whoever he or she was.

For the next few days, relatives arrived for her wake. Relatives who don't live in the same town (she and her daughter, my aunt, uncle, and my other cousins just lived in a house a few blocks--a tricycle ride--away from ours). Yes, those whom we only see when a kin has died. I'm not close to most of my relatives, so I wasn't really excited to see them. Sometimes I think, and funny it is, really, that the families of my clan are in some sort of a contest of who gets to have the saddest, most MMK-worthy story. This cousin of mine tried to hide her pregnancy from her strict father for the longest time, and they lived under just one roof. She had goiter, hence her pregnancy was downright delicate, but she never went to see an endocrinologist or an ob/gyn. Before this baby, she already had a teenage daughter, with a man who just disappeared before the girl was born. Her new husband, the father of her dead baby, abandoned her after giving birth--

or is it "giving death"?

My own family was in strong competition a few years back. When my dad died tragically, treated like an animal, while my mum couldn't even go to her own husband's funeral, and we, their kids, had to fend for ourselves...

So you could say I planned my visit well to the funeral home: it was during noontime, and like I predicted, my relatives were still out, soundly sleeping in my uncle's house, and I only had to meet my cousin's (now totally orphaned) daughter. Still, I hated scenes like this. Not that I do not care for my cousin, or that I do not mourn her, but it's just that I hate the sight of death, this very solid scene designed with a white coffin, wreaths, monoblock chairs, a guest book, candles lit and blinding bulbs burning all day and all night long. And seeing my cousin like she was already a skeleton, I could see her wrinkled skin sagging from the bone of her arm. She was just about my age. One could not recognise that she was the same fine, pretty lady in the framed portrait on top of the coffin glass. She was my most beautiful cousin. And perhaps that's why I never visited her in the hospital, never in the four months that she was sick, dying ever so slowly. Because I wanted to only remember the beautiful flower that she was when we were younger.

Her name was Hyacinth.

And so, you could further say that I hate being confronted by death. I'd rather all my siblings and cousins have unplanned pregnancies, and then births, every month, every week if they must, but not this call of mourning. I would not want to see my relatives again, if it'd only be on funerals.

But I love the coffee served, and the biscuits from the big tin box. Classic. Later that day, during the wake, another cousin would teach me how to play tong-it, and I'd win three out of the six rounds.

Piso-piso game it was.