Ah Gong, as how I remember him

Among my grandparents, I am somehow more attached to my grandmothers rather than grandfathers. Also, between my paternal and maternal grandfathers, I see less of Ah Gong. Part of the reason was because I never recall him coming over to KL, as compared to my late paternal grandfather (whom I also call Ah Gong 公公) who visited us quite frequently when we were living in SS2.

There were very few photos taken of myself with Ah Gong, one of the earlier ones being the below (taken in Penang with my cousin sister). I guess there wasn't much photo opportunity anyway because he doesn't go out on trips with us.

During my childhood, I always remember Ah Gong living a very simple life. Most of the time I see him rolling tobacco leaves to make his own cigarettes. It didn't smell like the normal cigarettes or kretek, but I still think it stank anyway. His past time was most probably spent walking around, performing light exercises, smoking his cigarettes, cycling and napping.

Ah Gong used to cycle a lot. I do not know where he usually go to, but there was one time I actually tagged along with him to see where he went. Apparently he goes to the nearest town which was a good 15 minutes bike ride away. I was quite scared that time because it was the first time I am cycling on my own so far away from home, and we passed by some areas with heavy traffic so I had to be extra careful. Upon reaching the town, I realised Ah Gong went there to buy 4D!

Ah Gong's only indulgence I know so far (apart from cigarettes) is dim sum. Usually my youngest uncle will bring Ah Gong out for dim sum whenever he is in Penang for visit. If we are lucky, we (the kids) get to tag along as well because we get to eat for free! When my eldest cousin started driving, he will also bring Ah Gong out for dim sum.

Six years ago, Ah Gong had a stroke. Things changed a lot since then. His heath deteriorated, and eventually he became bedridden. Up to last year he was still able to recognise people, but according to Oka-san when they visited him in May this year, he was unable to recognise anyone, including my eldest uncle who is taking care of him. I last saw him in December 06 during my cousin's wedding. We were supposed to arrange for a trip back to Penang in July but couldn't make it due to timing issues.

Oka-san told me stories about Ah Gong before, and how hard his life was. He left his family in China to seek greener pastures in Malaysia. Life was tough for him. He had eight children to take care of, and took up many odd jobs to make ends meet. In the process he had made some difficult decisions for the family, of which I wouldn't know if he had regretted doing so if he ever looked back. However, he led a much better life as his children all grew up, and I am glad he managed to live to a ripe old age of 98 with 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Oka-san also always liked his silvery white hair when he grew old. I couldn't agree more.

Rest in peace, Ah Gong.


Kenneth said…
Hi Nileey ...

Sorry to hear about your Ah Gong. Hope that you and your family will be better soon!

Sending loads of prayers, love and thoughts your way,