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#09

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Euphemism

Today I got word that a friend's mom had passed away. To be exact, the message I remember hearing over the phone was truncated to simply "[she] passed this morning". To the ever-versatile and very economical Singlish speaker, this makes complete sense. In retrospect, it draws attention to itself.

You have passed away or passed on or departed (as though Life were nothing but an unavoidable, alas mildly unpleasant stuffy stopover at some soon-forgotten airport terminal). Like an exhalation, a sigh, an expulsion, we are gone, off into far country like a somebody's second thought. Or the relaxing of a tense muscle; a gentle crossing over still waters into green pastures under a clear blue sky

Quite the peaceful transition, it seems.

After all, we would like to see our loved ones going gently into that good night, not futilely raging against the dying of the light. Now that's not a pretty sight: being dragged kicking and screaming out the door, or whacked across the head and dragged across the room, or drugged beyond comprehension and taken for a one-way ride. Or self-combustion.

Also, I notice that no one ever seems keen on leaving. No one seems to leap into that great beyond or swing away into that biggest mystery; or soar into the big unknown. There is no initiative, no gusto toward what lies ahead.

When one or , it almost implies some measure of control. After all, it is you who is the performer, who is the one in action; the change embodied. There is no mention of a greater force pulling the strings. You have passed on, as if always of your own whimsical choosing; an afterthought; a casual gesture. No one is ever taken away, or abducted by unseen powers, or kindly but firmly asked to leave the premises.

Even the simple, perhaps curt: she died. She did something, as though she took Death and wore it as a hat.

As though we hide our hopes for a final say in matters of the gravest importance.

en at 1:10 am

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