I received a phone call from one of my brothers-in-law around 7.15 a.m. on Tuesday 8th March 2011. He conveyed the news that his wife's brother-in-law had just passed away around 6.30 a.m. earlier at the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, Seremban. His body would be buried in Melaka later in the day.
I met the deceased last Saturday at his third son's wedding ceremony in Rembau where his family was residing. He was not in good health for some time and when I saw him he was sitting on a chair and staring at an empty space. The ceremony was held in the Rembau District Council's Hall. I was there for a couple of hours and when I left he was already brought home.
I and my wife decided to go to the hospital to pay our respects and maybe assist the bereaved family. We went straight to the hospital's mortuary as we knew the body would be brought there from the ward. We reached the mortuary around 8.15 a.m. and we were the first customers for the day. A few minutes later the body was brought down accompanied by his eldest son and maid.
The deceased was admitted to the hospital the night before when his family realised that he was not quite normal. He died only accompanied by the maid as his son was performing the Subuh prayers.
The family decided to hold the bathing rites at the mortuary. The man in charge of the bathing rites arrived soon after. Fortunately this man is known to me and stays less than a kilometer away from my house in a neigbouring housing estate. This is a good thing for the family as they were now not dealing with a stranger.
The deceased wife, two sons, daughter and daughter-in-law soon arrived and the bathing rites were performed. Meanwhile we were requested to wait in an air-conditioned waiting room. At first I thought there was no need for us to shift there as waiting in the lobby area was good enough. Then I realised the request was right after all as more customers came in, some crying.
The crying was from a family who at last was united with a member of their own after missing her for about a year. But the reunion was in tragic circumstances as the missing person was found in skeletal form. She was a 37 years old wife and mother to five children, the youngest was only a six month old infant girl when there were separated. Now the girl is one year older and oblivious to the crying of her father, brothers and other family members.
I was told that the lady left her house to buy some provisions from the kampung shop. It was the last time she was seen alive about a year ago. Her skeletal remains was found wrapped by a mattress in the woods about two months ago by a man who was going fishing. Her remains were then sent for DNA tests. The family was at the mortuary to claim the body after the DNA tests turned positive.
While waiting also a police van came bringing the body of a man who died under the 'sudden death' category. He was suffering from kidney problems and he fell in his bathroom in the morning.
After the bathing rites of my relative was performed his body was transferred to a waiting hearse. He would later be brought home to Rembau for a brief stop allowing his neigbours to give their respects and at the same time performing the prayers for him. From there he would be brought on his last journey to his kampung in Melaka for burial.
I left the mortuary with these lyrics of a Beatles song in my mind "Life is very short and there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend".