Tribute To Death

NOT TOO LONG ago, I came across the news of the demise of a journalist from my former workplace, The Star. I don’t know RG personally but have seen her bylines before. RG died of a heart attack in August. She was only 48 and left behind two teenage children.

This brought me back to April 2011 when I stumbled upon an obituary of an acquaintance I made in 2009 in Macau. Though we only met once, Dr. Faustina – a dentist by profession – left a lasting sweet impression. Sadly, two years later, she’s dead at 48 and left behind two young children then.

And also recently, I read that a cameraman from another former workplace (a TV station), died in a freak accident. He was 48 too.

I am not too far from 48. I have two kids too. Silly to be saying this, but “Will my time be up soon?”

Star2 paid tribute to RG in a news article in September, overflowing with beautiful and kind words about her. Sadly, she will never get to read them.

I turned to my girls and shared with them this piece of news. And I told them, “If you have anything nice to say about Mommy, please tell me when I am still alive, not when I am dead!” To which, Little Em immediately responded, “I always do”… which is true.

That evening, Big M – a teenager with few words and normally hibernates in her room – remained next to me. She even took the other half of my ear plug while I was listening to Seo In Guk’s “I Can’t Live Because of You”. Together we listened to it, over and over and OVER again (it was on replay mode), as we read some online news. She even agreed that it was a catchy song; while Little Em hugged me tight as always.

(PS. At this stage in life when a teenager and a mom rarely see eye to eye, an agreement on a song choice – a Mom’s choice at that – is akin to striking lottery!)

Often, when the time comes to pay tribute to a dead friend, one finds it hard to express one’s thoughts on the spot. But over the years, tributes have come in the most unexpected form and even at times during common conversations. I have saved letters, emails and phone messages friends have sent me through the years, and thought they would make nice tributes when I am gone. It also saves them the trouble of thinking what “nice” things to say about me when I am really dead!

Here’s one I treasure…

“I was reading a copy of Calvin & Hobbes today. When I came to the last page, I realised then that it was a birthday gift from you. You wrote a lovely note: “Unlike Hobbes who is an imaginary friend, we are real friends. Thank you!” Its pages are yellowing a bit but it is most precious to me, esp now that the years have gone by. It’s such a wonderful, wonderful keepsake now.” … A wonderful “keepsake” phone message from FYP, 18 Nov 2013.

Others that I treasure are keepsake cards from my schoolmates of four decades, whom I paid tribute to in The Best of PESS.

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Special Bond with PESS

LAST MONTH, ONE of my former teachers was featured in the newspaper.  It was in relation to her retirement on 23rd May 2014, after dedicating her teaching career to one school.

The Star carried this article entitled “Something special and inspiring about PESS” (link) on 17 May 2014.

My four sisters and I spent our secondary years in PESS. Four of us had the privilege of having Mrs. Yong as our Biology teacher.  Other than the teachers, we naturally feel a special bond with the school that turns 100 this year.

Two interesting “discoveries” were made following the publication of this article:

One: I found out that the writer who was my former colleague, was also a former student of the school, and was in fact in my eldest sister’s batch!

Two: Another sister also discovered that her sister-in-law was also a former student too, albeit briefly! She was chatting online with her sister-in-law (now residing in Australia) and mentioned the article about her old school PESS. Lo and behold, her sister-in-law exclaimed, “Hey, that was my school too!” (but she had left in Form Two).

The school is gearing up for its centenary celebrations in September. My sisters are going and many of my batch girls are going too, one flying in from Hong Kong and the other Australia.

I wish I could be there too, to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion! Alas, September is still a schooling month for the kids and Accra is simply too far and expensive to fly home 😦 I shall patiently wait to hear all about the big do from my sisters and friends.

Our recent moments with Mrs. Yong… (Top and Bottom L) PESOGA Lunch on 21 Sept 2013; (Bottom R) PESS Chinese New Year Open House on 17 Feb 2014.

Our recent moments with Mrs. Yong… (Top and Bottom L) PESOGA Lunch on 21 Sept 2013; (Bottom R) PESS Chinese New Year Open House on 17 Feb 2014.

Bravo Bonnie!

I WAS STILL up in the wee hours of Friday morning when a news article online caught my attention.

http://news.malaysia.msn.com/community/the-jewel-of-the-arctic-by-local-photographer-bonnie-yap

This is the Bonnie who became the first female photographer in The Star and survived the male-dominated Photo Room back in the early 90s; the same Bonnie with whom I earned my first front page byline along with her first front page photo byline on 27th June 1992; the same Bonnie who covered numerous assignments with me, including entertainment events involving local and Hong Kong celebrities.

This is the Bonnie who kindly became the photographer for the weddings of my brother, two sisters and eventually mine as well.

I was happy to read that she is finally having her first ever solo photo exhibition come 1 – 31 March at Traders Hotel, KL. Twenty four years of hard work that finally paid – a well-deserved recognition. Congrats Bonnie Yap!

Our first front page byline together (The Star, 27 Jun 1992)

Our first front page byline together (The Star, 27 Jun 1992).

(L-R) Bonnie and I out on assignment; Bonnie with the late Anita Mui; Bonnie at my wedding.

(L-R) Bonnie and I out on assignment; Bonnie with the late Anita Mui; Bonnie at my wedding.

Fond memories of our Star days between 1992-94.

Fond memories of our Star days between 1992-94.

Related post: Bonnie and I (link)

Air THAMAL

I WAS ONCE promised a “free ride” for a job well done… little did I know it would be in an army plane!

On this date 21 years ago (9th Feb 1993), I found myself on an army plane en-route to Haadyai for an assignment. I was the only girl among the 12 journalists and TV crew who went to cover the opening of the 12th Malaysia-Thailand air exercise in the southern Thai city. Also on board was the Army Chief.

thamal_1

thamal_2

Our mode of transportation to and fro KL-Haadyai, that brought us home within the day.

A Diplomat’s Deepavali Do, 1992

THE INDIAN High Commissioner to Malaysia, His Excellency Mr. RS Rathore, hosted a Deepavali open house on this date in 1992. That was my first encounter with members of the diplomatic corps… nope, I wasn’t an invited guest, my office sent me there to cover the event 🙂

The Rathores hosted the open house on Tuesday, 27 October 1992; My article in The Star published on Thursday, 29 October 1992, page 10.

I was eventually granted an interview with HE Mr. Rathore just before he completed his tour of duty here; this article was published in Sunday Star on 27 December 1992, page 10.

I was eventually granted an interview with HE Mr. Rathore just before he completed his tour of duty here; this article was published in Sunday Star on 27 December 1992, page 10.

Years later, I did get invited to such events…

In US, at the Commonwealth Women’s Association meeting and lunch hosted by Mrs. Lekha Sreenivasan (wife of Indian DCM) at her home in Bethesda, Maryland, 26 September 2000. Seated L-R: Datin Kamilah Abdullah (wife of Brunei Amb), Mrs. Joan Bolger (wife of NZ Amb and former first lady of NZ) and Mrs. Khaleeda Shehabuddin (wife of Bangladesh Amb); Standing L-R: Mrs. Lekha Sreenivasan, Mrs. Meheera Yakub (Bangladesh), Pn. Jameah Kholil (Malaysia), Mrs. Zakia Mansoor Hussain (Bangladesh) and Mrs. Yvonne Salina (wife of Malta Amb).

In HK at the HK Indian Women's Club Diwali Afternoon held on 30 September 2009.

In HK at the HK Indian Women’s Club Diwali Afternoon held on 30 September 2009.

(L) In HK, the “four musketeers” got together for a farewell meal (18 Jun 2010); (R) Farewell for CG of India, Mr. Ralte and Ziki, hosted by the Chief of Protocol, Mr. Tony Nguyen. (22 Jun 2010)