Early morning phone calls are not something that I welcome. 9.26am was not exactly early but I was still in bed and asleep. Before leaving for work, Wuan would always place the phone within easy reach of my right hand. The phone rang. I was jolted into semi-consciousness. My eyes were still shut. No point opening them. Without my glasses, everything would have been a blur anyway. I reached out and groped for the phone. It was exactly where it always was.
I answered. It was that familiar voice of my cousin Peter asking me when I was going back. “Next month,” I told him, “I will be attending a course here in early-June.”
His next sentence propelled me into full consciousness. “Ah Yin ay kia Peter bo liao.”
Those were extremely unpleasant words to hear so early in the morning. Apparently, my cousin sister’s son, who shares the same name as Peter and me, had died in a grisly traffic accident. After we hung up, I lazed in bed, confused and troubled. I felt lost. I could not go back to sleep anymore. I got up. As I was sitting on the edge of the mattress, what Peter said hit me squarely in the face. My eyes were wet. There was an ache in my heart. I was unsettled. Sad news always do this to me.
Peter was a young man, in his mid-twenties, and was carving a career for himself as an engineer in one of the MNCs in Bayan Lepas. There was always a smile on his face. He never failed to address me respectfully as “Ah Choon kiu kiu” every time met. Until now, the full reality has still not sunk in yet. Death is not an easy thing to swallow, especially when it is of an extended family member whom I am fond of.
I worry for his mother. I am concerned with how she is coping. I dread having to make that phone call to her. What should I say? I know for sure I will break down the moment I hear her voice. I am undecided whether I should go back. Would it cause an unnecessary disruption to the rigmarole of the preparation for his final journey? As I sit here contemplating on the next step I should take, I pray for you, Peter, my dear nephew, that the Lord may have mercy on your soul; and may your parents and loved ones find comfort in this hour of grief. Rest in peace.
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