Thursday, August 15, 2013

Death

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If you're in my line of work, death comes by almost every other day. The times where I have to cover crime stories involving deaths are too many to be counted. It can be deaths from accidents, murder, suicide, and arson. It is common when I have to visit the crime scene (usually for murder cases) or the hospital when there are fatal accidents. Then there's the occasional death of a politician or someone important.

Sometimes there are deaths of more than one person and the more you cover them, the less fazed you'll be. Don't get me wrong, I still feel uneasy whenever there are deaths, just that I don't wince as much as I did when I first started.

Yesterday I covered the funeral of a former member of parliament (MP) in the state who had been battling with cancer for many years. She passed away due to breathing difficulties last Saturday and after a five-day wake, she was cremated. As I arrived yesterday on the last day of her wake, there were wreaths everywhere and faint chants of prayer playing on a loop in the background. Life-sized posters hung on the tents with a smiling and radiant-looking YB (how we referred to her, Yang Berhormat) with the words "in memory of..." printed below her photo.

Last year alone I covered two high-profile deaths and although I sympathised the family and friends of the deceased, I never really felt anything else for them probably because I did not know of them prior to their death. But for this MP, I felt something. As the coffin carrying her body was carried out of the tent, I felt a hint of sorrow. Maybe it is because I have covered her event in the past few years I worked with the paper. I remember covering her several times before she got sick again and was too frail to attend functions. In my vague memory of her, she was soft-spoken but sprightly.

After the ceremony was over, her personal assistant of more than 9 years came over to the press seats and told us in hushed tones "eat first before you work, YB would want that" and gave us a wry smile before catching up with the funeral procession. Those words gave me goosebumps. Media members are known to skip meal to rush for deadlines and YB would always tell us to eat first before writing our stories and with her PA saying that just made me truly realise that she was gone.

It was a cloudy day yesterday. I watched the procession leave her home for the memorial park, a trail of white and yellow chrysanthemum petals followed behind. As the procession went further and further down the road, I turned to walk towards my car.. and it began to drizzle.

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Love,
xiang yun

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