This my Gonggong, the one who saw me grow up since I was born.
When I was a child, Gonggong would bring me out every Sunday to either my favorite arcade at Thomson Plaza or Parkway Parade, or he would bring me shopping with Ah Ma. Gonggong would buy me things when I behaved myself or did well in school.
I remember Gonggong bringing home chinese herbs and tonic for us. He would feed me with my favorite food, and buy me my favorite “piglet” biscuit during Mooncake festivals. Gonggong always showered my cousins, brother and me with love, care and lots of warmth.
I cannot recall when it happened, but one day I was just told that he had moved back to his daughter’s place. And we were not allowed to visit him. (It’s complex and I don’t want to talk about this.)
So after few years, we got a chance to finally visit him after his operation. That was the last time we saw him.
For the past years, the only updates we get about Gonggong is through Ah Ma. She would try to call him in the afternoon when the family is out, and he would be able to talk to Ah Ma. He had asked about us often too. He did care and think about us though we didn’t get to meet nor talk. However, these calls decreased over the years, and Ah Ma didn’t hear from him for some time.
On Tuesday, 23 Feb 2010, Ah Ma gave the house a call, but to hear the maid break the news that Gonggong had passed away a year ago. She didn’t know what to say, and hung up. Dad called me when I was in the office and told me about it over the phone. It took me a few seconds to register what he said, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Fortunately, Abang was there with me that day, I had someone to hold and hug while I cry my heart out.
The news came unexpected and so sudden. And it was more than a year ago when he left us. We weren’t told nor were we given the chance to see him one last time. After the news sank in, I tried to find out what happened.
Called the house on Wednesday and was told Gonggong passed away in Nov 2009. And an approximate place where they’d gotten for his final resting place. With Ben’s help, we looked through rolls of microfilm at the National Library that day, trying to find his obituary notice. But we found nothing.
On Saturday, 27 Feb 2010, I decided to give the columbarium, near the place I was told, a try. Hoping to pay my respect. Didn’t know the exact date of his departure, and with the PC down when I was there, the person in-charge there couldn’t help locate the unit for his urn. I went round hoping to find Gonggong’s photo amongst the many urns there. It was an emotional search.
With Gonggong’s guidance, I found him. Resting peacefully on the second row of his block (G). I checked his name and photo several times, making sure I found the right one. And then I saw the date. He departed on 23 Nov 2008. That was much longer ago. I spent some time talking to him and my tears just kept flowing uncontrollably. I apologized for knowing this only now. I was sad.
I told myself that he is now at a better place, with no pain nor sorrow. He is at peace now. And I believe he is happy, now that his family (us) found him.
We will be holding a prayer ritual for him soon. That’s what Ah Ma said she’ll do when Gonggong visited her in her dream one night. We need to give a proper closure for Gonggong. He is part of our family and the only Gonggong we all know.
Gonggong, you are in a better place now. And I believe you have always and will always be there watching over us. Rest in peace.