By Hannah Yeoh, Sin Chew Daily
I’M GOING TO share a personal story with all of you here. Back in 1990, when I was still in school, I received news that my favourite uncle (mom’s brother) had injured himself from a fall while working. He was admitted to SJMC and hours later, he passed away. My uncle was only 29 when he left us. He was one month away from getting married. He had personally renovated his house and bought new furniture in anticipation of his wedding day. I was told that he cried when his engagement ring was removed from his finger, moments before he passed away.
On the day of his burial, his pre-wedding photographs taken at the studio were delivered to us. His fiancee wept uncontrollably. Their wedding did not materialise. Their dream of beginning their lives together was shattered. Photograph of him in his groom tuxedo adorned his coffin and hearse. His parents (my grandparents) also could not participate in the funeral, just like Beng Hock’s parents. According to Chinese culture, the parents should not participate in the funeral of a child.
I can understand how Beng Hock’s nieces and nephews feel. I spent so many nights crying, longing for my favourite uncle to return. I can imagine the atmosphere in Beng Hock’s home now. My grandparents’ home was no different. One night, I shared the room with my uncle’s fiancee. I woke up to the sound of her weeping. She told me how my uncle wanted me to teach him English and that it was too late. How she was supposed to prepare soup for him for dinner but he never came home that day, it was too late.
Year after year, at every family gathering, I witnessed my grandmother crying. I saw my grandfather hiding in the kitchen, crying by himself. The loss of their son was too painful, too much for them to bear. Even on the dying bed in 2007, my grandfather was still thinking of his son – my uncle who left so prematurely at the age of 29, a month before his scheduled wedding.
Beng Hock’s death has brought painful remembrance of my personal loss. Beng Hock was my friend. I last saw him in the Dewan Annex at the Selangor State Assembly last Wednesday during our lunch break. I never imagined that that would be the last time we chatted. I am 30 years old. Beng Hock was 30 too. He would not be at MACC if he hadn’t accepted the call of public service. This race in which I have started to run to bring change in this land is not an easy one. I know some will stop running. Some may be injured running the race. I pray I will complete the race.
My sister who is indifferent to politics (like many other young people in this country) sent me a text message when I was at Nirvana Memorial Park in Semenyih the day Beng Hock was buried. She said : “Please teach me what to do in the event you are taken in by MACC too. I do not want to learn of it too late”. She must have seen the agony of Beng Hock’s siblings and realised that it could have been her going through it.
I hope my grandmother isn’t watching the news of Beng Hock’s death. She would be grieving and crying seeing Beng Hock’s mom. I hope this article doesn’t reach her. Just like how my family still remembers my late uncle some 19 years later, I know Beng Hock too would be remembered many years to come. Farewell, my friend.