SIRI 12/2007

oleh : Azlina Dollah (77)

Jerantut, Pahang Darul Makmur

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Assalamualaikum exsasian brothers and sisters,

Many years ago a dear friend of mine lost her first born to a killer medical condition. She was devastated but time is a compassionate collaborator. Still, though pain is dulled, it keeps on squeezing the air out of one’s chest every now and then. I dedicate this space to this special lady who instead of letting herself be swallowed by the pain and grief; turned her experience into something inspiring. Her sensitive observation is reflected in this little piece.


I like to read obituaries. Call it a weird habit if you like. I especially like those with a picture of the deceased because I can then visualize who it is whose history in this world stopped on that day while the rest of us carry on with the business of living and breathing.

Among all the obituaries I have read, there is one that really caught my attention and became a yearly read for me. It used to be published almost every year in one of the major newspaper. A whole page (must cost quite a bit definitely) taken out by a husband for his beloved wife complete with a heart-tugging poem. The husband was a respectable, prominent person before retiring from the public service. Beautiful words dedicated to his wife who left him to live out the remainder of his life alone. It was definitely weird but I used to look forward to his obituary for his wife every year in the newspaper.

This went on for several years (3 or 4 years I think). Then it stopped. I got my answer why the obituary in remembrance of his late wife stopped when a piece of news appeared in the newspaper sometime later.

I should have known that such sensitive, melancholic poems for his late wife would come from an equally melancholic person. Probably a person who never really recovered from his loss and carried his personal grief everyday like a burden he could not let go. I can only speculate that the pain of the grief never dulled for this person. The piece of news I read in the newspaper announced his death by his own hands. No more elaborate one page obituary for his late wife after that.

See, if we follow these obituaries, there are life stories behind them. They deserve more than just a fleeting glance.

On another occasion while I was reading the obituary section of another newspaper, I came across the picture of my ex-lecturer. I had known he had been sickly for awhile. I would not have known he has gone if not for my weird habit of reading obituaries.

Anyway, I thought I would write about obituaries today because when I opened today’s paper, I saw a picture of a young man who in the picture appeared to be in the prime of health but had passed away last Saturday. Then, I wondered what happened to this young man ….

And last Saturday on the day he breathed his last, I was at work during the day busy chasing a deadline and attended a dinner function during the evening. I think many of us hardly ever stopped to think about deaths and people who breathed their last on a day we were busy living out the life of the living until we ourselves lost a dear one.

When I see an obituary, I take my time to see the picture, ponder what could have happened, how sad the grieving family must be, how life has stopped for the deceased and how frenetic many of the living are today including me. We are so busy, busy, busy living and everyday someone died ……


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