There was a period in my childhood when I could not stop asking questions. I remember asking these questions mostly to my late father. A period within this period is when I continuously asked questions about death. Not about death per se, but about what could kill a human being. This might have been connected to my questions about appendicitis, which he told me could kill if not taken care of in time. If I bled, Pa, would I die? I would ask. If you lose too much blood, yes, he would answer. If my head hits a wall, Pa, would I die? Depends, he said, and I can’t remember his further explanations. If a car hits me, Pa, would I die? At one point it seems, these chains of questions became a mere fixation and I kept asking and asking until he finally said, “Actually, it isn’t that easy for a human being to die, really.”
Then I stopped asking.
I feel I can understand more, now, how his spirit could’ve kept him alive for three days, even when his physique was impossible to rescue. I think he might’ve been in a state of shock. This couldn’t be happening to me, I thought as I braked and saw the head of that container-truck turning in front of me. It’s green for me! He should’ve stopped! A second later I was on the ground, knocked off, my bike on top of my legs. I remember thinking I should scream, and so I did, more of anger than anything else. The truck didn’t stop. It went past me on my left. The truck behind it did, however, and I could see the driver climbing down, asking me a few questions, lifted me off the street and asked me if I wanted him to call an ambulance.
In the hospital, I couldn’t help thinking that I shouldn’t have let the man call the ambulance. I should’ve just stood up and rode on. I did overhear someone saying that my bike’s back wheel was bent, but that didn’t mean anything to me at the time. I had lots to do. I had to start doing the mural that day, otherwise it wouldn’t have finished.
I remember letting go quite soon after I saw him with life support in the ICU – his lungs weren’t functioning, and his brain damaged. It would’ve only been a torture for him if we try to keep him alive. I remember him complaining to me a few months earlier: these legs, Tin, these legs won’t listen to me anymore. He was seventy-one and very healthy otherwise. But no matter how much I miss him now, I still think that it was his best decision to let go, and die.
There was a period in my childhood when I couldn’t stop crying. Every time I almost stopped, I felt some kind of sublime aching close to my abdomen which would start yet another sob that then grew on into wailing again. As a little child I once told him this. His piece of advice was, don’t dramatise it. When I got back to Melbourne after his funeral, even as an grown-up this was one piece of advice I couldn’t hang on to.