is what it reads on one of the marble plaques at Mandai Columbarium. There is a picture of a baby girl on it and she is smiling. A few niches away, there is another plaque reading “1923 – 18.7.2015”, and above these numbers printed in gold lettering is a picture of an old man who looks happy. 20 days vs 92 years alive on this planet and now here they are, their ashes in urns just metres away from each other, to lie here for all eternity. I wish that under every memorial plaque, they would engrave a “cause of death” or something because each one is a closed door to whole lives and worlds I will never know of. My brother remarks that this isn’t a morgue or Wikipedia (Michael Jackson’s Wiki page cites his cause of death as a cardiac arrest induced by propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication // Kurt Cobain: suicide by gunshot // my favourite pages are on the list of inventors killed by their own inventions and entertainers who died during a performance), and I realize I have been thinking aloud.
We bid goodbye to my grandmother.
Mom says she she feels uncomfortable, like her head is heavy. I say I feel fine – calm, even. The haze is getting to me though. She counters that it’s not the haze but the feeling that there are too many spirits here, and some of them didn’t know they were going to die. It’s overwhelming. I say – again – it’s probably just the haze.
We get back to the car and find that my side window has been rolled down. I never roll down the window. Mom jokes that it could be a spirit trying to follow me home; it could be occupying my empty seat right now. Don’t you know it’s the last day of the seventh month? Sure. Why not, I thought. After spending a few hours with me it’ll get so incredibly bored and leave to haunt the next person it passes by. I get in and hope I have crushed the spirit with my weight.