Sunday, 25 August 2013

Losing another member in the family


On Friday I received news that my (more than) 90-year-old great-grandmother has passed away. She was the last of my great-grandparents. The last time we saw each other was in 2009 just before I left for Germany. 

A long time ago she showed me her hometown in Pacitan, Java, Indonesia, where she grew up. There weren't any proper bathrooms, mosquitoes raged everywhere and the darkness was darker than the night, but it was a place full of stillness and nature that's home to lush tropical forests and undiscovered beaches with crystal blue waters.

She has raised many children and has seen dozens of great and great-grandchildren in her lifetime.
Her memory deteriorated in the past couple of years and she began to occasionally forget who I was and what my name is.

I knocked on her door once.
She opened and looked at me, "Who is this? Who are you?"
"It's me, Ayut,"  I said. "Ira"
"Ani?" she asked.
"No, Ira," I said a little louder. "Anen's daughter." Anen was what she used to call my late dad.
"Anen!" she said. She remembered. "Ira! I haven't seen you in ages!"
"Yes, Ayut, I'm here now."
She let me in.

And that was how it went for awhile.

A few days ago she had a fall and had to be admitted to the hospital.
She hated hospitals and was putting up a fight to the point that they had to sedate her in order to treat her. At least that was what my mum told me.

I'll miss the way she used to playfully hit me when she remembers me, like I just played a joke on her. I'll miss the way she prepared her betel leaves, how she chewed them shitless, how her teeth become stained and how she'd spit out what seemed like blood. I'll miss the way she offered me food even when I'm not hungry. I'll miss how she spoke fluent javanese - something I don't think I'll ever be able to learn or pass on.

Most of all I'll miss her.

But I'm so glad to have known her still.
I'd post a picture of us if I could get my hands on all my old photo albums right now which are in Singapore. Might have to think about this another time.

Rest in peace, Ayut. 
You will be alright.

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