Thursday, December 26, 2013

Life, seen fast forward

It has been quite a month.
My grandfather passed away in the end of November and I decided to fly back to Hong Kong to attend his funeral.  I was never particularly close to my yea yea (paternal grandfather) but my dad was so close to him that, I knew he would appreciate the emotional support at the funeral. Also, he was the only sibling who would not have his children there.  The last time I was back in Hong Kong, my aunt was in a coma and dying so going back home these days has been bittersweet.

I was only there for 4 days, two of those were funeral related and because yea yea was 97 years old at the time of his passing, his funeral was actually a "happy" event. It is a Chinese goal to live a long life and yea yea has definitely done that. 
It was interesting for me, to partake in a traditional Chinese funeral.
It was unlike anything I've imagined but I thought it very therapeutic. At the wake, the entire family is dressed in a type of funeral uniform and we gather and fold paper ingots for the deceased. While folding, we catch up with what's been going on in our lives. Vegetarian meals are served and rituals are carried out. A tiny furnace is started and once it is started, it can not be stopped. The furnace is fed paper money so that they departed may be able to use this in the afterlife. We take turns, two by two, burning bundles of money for yea yea, talking with my cousins whom I haven't had a heart to heart with in a long time.

On a few days, we ventured back to the Pang residence. A tin shack in the country side:

The window by which yea yea sits. 
The red couplet says " Good health"

We went through old photos of the family. Here is a photo of all my uncle, with my dad with a funny face on the horse. The baby on my oldest uncles lap, passed away tragically at the age of 1.5 years old after falling through a story of rotten wood flooring.
My aunt and my dad (in the middle) in their college years.

On the second night, before the funeral, my cousin Alex takes us out in Jordan on a walk and eat tour. Here we stop at an amazing innards shop. Stop scrunching your face. It was ah mazing.

A hawkers dinner after a long day. My goofy dad.

Dad's 11 year old pekingese, guarding.

One thing that struck me those four days were, the rich history. How time has flown. From my uncles egg carting days ( the family made their money from delivering and selling caged eggs) to stories of their courting of local pretty girls, to now, sitting at a modern chinese restaurant, reminiscing and swirling red wine. Laughter all around and for the first time, I feel the brotherly connection that I never felt from the Pang family. For the first time, I felt more connected to my paternal side than my maternal side (especially after my aunt passed). I told my mum this and I think there is a truth to it. My maternal grandmother, you see, is the second wife of my grandfather. Now that there is only my maternal grandmother and my mother left on our side of the family, there is something lacking since my aunt passed and even though my dai popo (first wife of my grandfather)s family is large and friendly, it is not the same. It is different. Honest.
From this trip, I felt how important it was to have your surname and how that surname truly connects you with your family. I saw how my Pang family looks after everyone that is a Pang, which can be a good thing and a bad, depending on your surname. Once an outsider, always an outsider. This I can relate to but I relish being part of the inside as well.

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