It was a beautiful Friday morning. I went out for short jog around 9am, returning just after 9.40 to find a missed call from my babysitter's daughter. Neglecting it, I went for a shower only to find my Dad calling me later. "Ah Por passed away," my Dad said plainly. The raspy telephone voice reverberated in my ears and took a second or two to register in my brain. I wished it wasn't true but it had been coming since years ago. Ah Por was 95 years old. Her life itself was a history which traverses China and the early Penang Straits Settlements. Although at old age she fought with dementia, she had the fortune to be living together with her great-grandchildren and a caring daughter, my babysitter.
Back to the movie, Departures, our class was supposed to watch it during one of our class meetings in the semester. Due to work requirements I skipped the movie, and forgot completely about it until my sister kept singing praises about it when I came back. Coincidentally, GSC Gurney Plaza was showing the movie on International Screens because it garnered Best Foreign Language Film in the Oscars. I took a Monday to watch the 140-minute film.
Funeral parlour touching up the dead before the encoffing ceremony. Death is not a stranger to me anymore after the semester with our Silent Mentor and the grand funeral thereafter. However, anything dealing with the dead is still a taboo across Asia and perhaps the world. Quoting a dialogue from the movie - "Death is merely a passage in life - a door, to which people randomly pass through into another realm of the world. When I send them away, I tell them 'we'll meet again, see you later eh!' So we need not be sad for the dead because even though we miss them in our material world, they're always with us in spirit. Sooner or later we'd join them and live in a world free of worries." So everyday in life we hear people say "live like today's the last day in your life," while it may encourage us to put our best foots forward in any circumstance, we shall always remind ourselves even if death suddenly arrives we should have no fear of leaving - leaving for a better world. One prerequisite though -live life without regrets. In the movie you see the funeral parlour treating all the dead with equal respect and humility - applying make up for the ladies and shaving clean the men. A simple question - how would you want yourself to look like when you pass? How would you be remembered? Set in conservative Japan, the movie tackles with perfect grace and depth the main problem most Asians fall into when someone passes - never to grief and regret for one's death, make it like a date with your loved ones in the afterlife.