Thursday, 22 November 2007

Father's Death Anniversary

Today is dad's death anniversary, and we got up early to prepare some dishes as offerings to him at the temple where his tablet resides. It was a bright sunny morning unlike the previous day. I remember feeding him spoonfuls of morphine syrup as he lay groaning in excruciating pain. I remember wiping his emaciated body to keep him clean and massaging his back to keep his blood circulation going. I remember as he drew his last breath, and it was with a mixture of relief and anguish that we let go of him as he had suffered long enough from prostate cancer which subsequently spread to his bones. I still remember his rake-thin body with collapsed veins in his arms and legs as the doctor pronounced with finality that we could not give him anymore blood transfusion. He was prepared to die, but not until my brother and his family from Australia came back to see him for the last time. I don't know if it was a coincidence but he held on stubbornly until they came back and with serenity he gave up his life. I remember his parting words, said with a weak smile, "Looks like I am about to go on a vegetarian diet soon".

The temple where his tablet resides

The swastika, a symbol for good prominently displayed on the gate. I wonder why Nazi Germany adopted this symbol as its rallying cry

Inside the main hall of the temple

The huge glass cabinet where the tablets of the departed are arranged neatly. The tablets come in different sizes; of course the larger the tablet, the more costly it is

An offering of food, joss paper, clothes and shoes

The five cooked dishes. I was told that dishes should be offered in odd numbers, three, five or seven. Odd numbers symbolise the 'yang' or the male

Buns with sweet lotus paste filling

His favourite: boiled sweet ginko nuts

'Huat kueh', a sort of cake sweetened with brown sugar; 'huat' meaning prosperity or good fortune

Deep fried thick tofu skin

Fried tofu. This would later be simmered in duck stew sauce

Canned vegetarian abalone although it doesn't look like abalone by a long stretch; however it is pretty tasty

A vegetable dish of black mushroom, cabbage, glass noodle and 'kim cham' a stringy, preserved vegetable

Some clothes and a pair of shoes which would later be burnt along with the joss paper

Pa, rest in peace

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