Life is unpredictable

Yes, it is. Although this phrase is so overused, it has its truth in it.

Our office received news a while ago from our colleagues overseas saying that a Malaysian girl whom we sent over last year had passed away.

Yes. Passed away. Just like that.

We were, of course, shocked. Until today, the news still hasn’t quite settled in. No cause of death has been communicated to us yet, and we are still wondering what happened.

All we knew was that no one, her boyfriend back in Singapore and her close classmates, could contact her for more than 24 hours. Her classmates then knocked on her room door and when they got no response, went to ask security to open the door. And there she was, already stiff.

Very, very sad.

I dread to think how the friend would have felt when she first saw her. I dread to think how the friend could muster the courage to call the deceased’s family to tell them of this news. And I dread to think how her parents would feel.

I also dread to think how her last moments were; what thoughts went through her mind, if she suffered alone in her room. Being someone who has studied overseas before and now travel quite extensively for my work, I shudder at the thought of knowing your time is up and you are in a foreign land, unable to do anything, worrying about leaving your family and friends.

B (the deceased) was supposed to graduate this summer (May/June). She was doing her Masters and had planned for her boyfriend to join her for a Europe trip after she finishes. She was supposed to go home to her family, whom, I presume, would be expecting their daughter graduating with a Masters, getting a good job, settling down.

And suddenly, wham, you get a call to say your daughter has passed away – thousands of kilometres away. You can’t see her, you don’t know what happened. You are not even sure how to bring her back to Malaysia, how much it costs.

B’s family is not well to do and they had to (allegedly) borrow some cash to enable the brother to fly over  to get her home. Her parents stayed back, presumably to save costs. They wanted very much to bring her body back for burial, but they knew it was going to be expensive. Thus, the decision was to cremate her.

Fortunately, our University was compassionate. We offered to pay for all repatriation expenses, including B’s brother’s accommodation while he is there. Although the offer was made to them, the family decided that B should be cremated. While we respect their wishes, I cannot help but imagine how would the parents feel – not being able to even see their daughter’s body – just ashes.

B was a Buddhist and being a Buddhist myself as well (although not so devout) thoughts came in. Buddhists believe in life after death, we believe that souls still live on, reincarnation happens, etc. And if B has passed away in another country, I can’t help but imagine if her soul could ‘come home’. I dread how her parents must worry if their daughter’s soul could ‘come home’ to Malaysia and not ‘lost’ overseas.

Buddhist chantings during a wake helps calms the deceased’s soul and aid her in ‘crossing over’. Buddhist monks were engaged overseas for B – it was somewhat surprising that they can find one – thank goodness.

Another wake would be held for her once she is back home, and hopefully, although she passed away miles away, B would RIP. Condolences to her family and close friends as well.

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