Like That Also Can Ah?!!

Image hosted by

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ching Ming (All Soul's Day)

Whenever Easter comes, Ching Ming comes with it. Not sure if it’s a coincidence or what, but it’s been that way (more or less) since I was a kid. As a Christian I don’t really delve into what Ching Ming means, except I know that when I was a kid, we used to go every year to the graveyard and do what most Chinese do.

I remember it very well. My paternal grandparents are buried side by side in a huge cemetery in a place called Jelutong in (no, not Penang) Malacca. But at the time when we went regularly, my grandmother was still among us, so it was just one grave to clear. Every year, we would have problems locating the exact spot, this was a huge hillside without any system of graves, unlike those modern cemeteries they have with lot numbers.

My dad always said just a ‘few meters from a small tree’, but as time goes by, the tree grows bigger and along with the other trees, so it’s never any help anyway.

First we took a good look at the tombstone, gazing picture to remind myself of what my grandfather looked like, trying to decipher the deep Chinese words (curse of the banana people).

What we did was clear the whole area of rubbish, undergrowth and whatever else. Then we cleared the burial area and put hell bank notes all over it, each held down by a small rock to prevent it from flying away in the wind. Then the adults will burn something somewhere, while we kids hid from the scorching sun under the above mentioned tree.

There was one year we went to my uncle’s first wife’s grave, situated slightly away from there. 12 years before I was born, she died giving birth to my eldest cousin. My grandmother disliked her, after her death my grandmother cut away all her pictures and burnt them. The only picture I saw of her was at the gravestone there on the hillside of Jelutong, she looked beautiful, somewhat like my cousin.

It’s been almost 25 years since I went there, last month I passed Jelutong enroute to another funeral. I only have old photos to remind myself of the place and location – 4 of us kids standing below a very, very young pokok cempaka, laughing.

I told my wife maybe next year I’ll go down there again. I’d be nice to be able to find the twin graves just below the tree. And maybe visit my late auntie’s grave, and see the photo again. That grave hasn’t had a visitor in more than 25 years.


  • I believe the Chinese Lunar calender and the Jewish calender are somewhat similar, hence the closeness of the festival.

    I have great-grandparents and grandparents buried in Penang and Taiping. My father passed away in 2001 and was buried in Taiping, beside his parents and grandparents. His is a twin grave with half reserved for my mum (her side of the tombstone has chinese inscriptions in red, to signify this person is still alive).

    I too hold some sentimental notes for this season, remembering our forefathers.

    By Blogger Kathie "Moomykin" Yeoh, at 2/03/2008 06:23:00 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home

You're visitor number free web counter
web counter