Today, I wish to dwell in the realm of death or after life and look at the connections with the living.
Whenever I get the opportunity to read the Star or NST, I will always see the obituary or death announcement pages to see if anyone of them is known. Even my ex- Kirby college group has made it a point to announce any death among the few remaining students. Today, the youngest ex-Kirby student would be about 75 years old now. Indeed they left a mark on the education system of Malaysia.
One famous Tamil song of yesteryears so aptly puts it’ “The wife until the door steps of the home, the children until the grave or place of cremation, but who will be there until the end.” There is also a Tamil proverb which says, “The extent of grief on the day of death cannot be repeated or expressed as time passes.”
Death is one phenomena which every religion and culture has its own view and interpretation. I even heard one Muslim preacher once comparing that life also has plus (+) and minus (-) like in mathematics. The plus is when we are alive and our minus begins when we are dead. The heaven or hell part begins with the balance sheets of our deeds.
This balance sheet is a bit lop-sided in favour of the minus. If a corrupt or cheat gets RM100 from his unlawful act, the gravity of his sin or crime will involve the victim and all those who depended on the victim. The same with unpaid debts, the sin will also be against other family members who are beneficiaries of the victim’s money. Many Muslims are finding the actions of the Taliban unacceptable because killing one is equal to killing the whole of mankind.
Most religions have ‘All Souls Day’ when the family remembers the dead. I have written about the Chinese Chin Beng, from what I saw first-hand at the Lukut Chinese cemetery. The Taoist Chinese keep the two way communication with the dead via the priests who keep informing the family about the status of the dead and what is needed in terms of flowers, fruits, cooked food and paper model of things and money. In return they hope the dead will bring them good fortune.
The concept of death in Islam is really unique. We do not encourage loud weeping and other show of grief. A silent prayer at the grave or at home every now and then is all that the living can offer the dead. The deeds are the only salvation of the dead. The family can help the dead by settling the debts and doing good deeds so that any blessing from the deeds will help to reduce the sins of the deceased.
My parents are buried at the Gombak cemetery. Though their deaths were about 20 years apart, the graves are next to each other. Usually on the second day of the two Hari Rayas, I visit the graves with my family. Our emphasis is that to be of any help to parents, our life style and deeds are very important. With this fear and shame, it becomes important not to do evil and bad deeds that bring suffering to others. A few minutes of silence and prayers are only offerings.
I wish our leaders too will take heed. The blunders plus lies our BN government is feeding us daily are enough to keep every citizen occupied and active marveling at the thick hide some shameless people have. It can be said that the legacies of some of our great past leaders are being destroyed by their own children who are helming high positions in the present government.
Three out of the six PMs are still alive. The children and relatives of PMs 2, 3, 4 and 5 are helming important positions in the present government. A look at the social media where citizens express their true frustration of the evil things and corruption happening in the country, will give a true insight to the characters of the children and relatives.
Our history also shows that PMs 1 and 3 were unhappy with their successors. Now we are witnessing our 4th PM expressing his dissatisfaction with the government. These are good signs to show that deep inside the ‘milk of human kindness was in them’. The ill-conceived implementation of GST is the last straw because prices have gone up. As one political leader recently pointed out, in the long run the poor are the ones suffering the most.
I feel sad that the worst hit in this barrage of criticisms is the legacy of our most revered 2nd PM. Are the life styles and sayings of his children a reflection of his true character hidden from the public views? The Biblical statement about ‘Good trees producing good fruits’ come to mind. Leave alone the 1MDB and other corruption and flip-flop issues, the unanswered questions about Altantuya’s murder also leaves a bad feeling about up-bringing. The late PI Bala also implicated one of the brothers in his testimony, which even a denial by the accused would put the matter to rest. I hope these problems will be settled before the family visit his grave next Hari Raya, provided they do visit graves like many other Muslims.
I sincerely hope that the next time you visit your loved one’s grave, ask yourself, “Is my visit going to improve that balance sheet of the deceased?” If you are a corrupt, do not visit the graves because your corrupt deeds are multiple crimes.