My 2nd year NTU In-house Practical Training project buddy's funeral service was quiet. 18 Jan 2006 Wednesday 10.30am. The sun was smiling merrily as we departed from Bishan street 24 to Mandai Crematorium. Family members, relatives, friends and colleagues, maybe about 40 of us were there to send him the last journey.
Standing in front of the viewing gallery, our hearts went with his flower covered coffin placed above an automated trolley rolling slowly towards the crematory oven.
He was a cheerful guy who loved to talk nonsense, intelligient nonsense that were funny enough to roll many on the floor with laughter and honest enough to offend a few serious souls.
Remembering those days when we were staying in the campus halls. Sometimes he would show me his guitar skill when I visited him in Hall 2, and I would sing along familiar songs. Mid-autumn festival, we had tea and mooncakes with a few friends in the room, together with my cousin who is now a mother of 2 boys. Ha! He came one evening to look for me in Hall 9, bombed me with questions on E202, made me so worried because I do not understand what he was asking and the paper was just around the corner. It was fun having him as a project buddy because he was a software expert and I need not sweat a single brain cell to finished the project supervised by Wang Han, a lecturer from PRC who has a research interest in computer image processing. We just liked to cling together during lectures, be it Michael Heng's HRM in MLT or engineering subjects in LT25. My first encounter with Tian1 Dao4 (Heaven's Word), a pretty new "cult" religion, was through him. I was really glad to learnt during his marriage in year 2000 December that he became a Christian.
He looked fat during one of our class gathering a few years back (one of the Chinese New Year season I think) and jokingly I asked if he had a good life after marriage. He was not having a good life. He was suffering from kidney cancer, diagnosed 6 months after his marriage and had one of his kidney removed. Many of his classmates, including myself, were ignorant about his health condition until his death news broken out on Sunday, by our beloved class rep. He passed on Saturday 14 Jan 2006, after fighting with cancer for 5 years. The news hit my sms mailbox while I was rushing the final proofreading and touching up on my dissertation before sending for hardcover binding. Striving for perfection on the dissertation seemed a meaningless task all of a sudden and I did nothing except vegetating on my seat for the next half hour.
Interestingly, I wonder why I did not call him up all these 5 years just to ask about his well being working in Motorola. Pace of life was fast and our friendship was sacrificed in the name of "busy". My diary recorded an sms received from him on 2 Dec 2004 21:29:10 saying "This is my new hp number.". According to his sister, he had stopped cancer treatment during that period as it was already end-stage. I did not call him then. I send him an sms on 8 Sep 2005 informing him of my decision to be a financial planner and would be glad to serve him if he wants insurance or investment alternatives. He called a while later but hung up immediately, leaving a "missed call" indication on my handphone. My morale was rather low then because of rejections I got from my friends... most of them became very busy all of a sudden, don't even have time for a 30 minutes lunch with me. I decided not to call him because I chose to believe that he was deleting my sms but had accidentally pressed the call option. Why such a low self-esteem? Why didn't I just call??!!! My final sms to him was on 1 Jan 2006 morning, wishing him a joyful and blessed life ahead as he opens a new chapter in 2006. He did not reply.
The wooden door closed after the slow moving coffin was fully pushed into the oven. A white rose bud, obviously had fallen off from the coffin, laid quietly on the floor in front of the closed door... it escaped the incineration but was left alone... plays no part fragrancing...
Life starts for a purpose and life ends for a purpose.
Can't bear to delete his number from my phone... Thank Jesus for His promise, we shall meet again in heaven.