Hi Wa Emon, How Are You?

I dreamt about my uncle, Wa Emon, last night. Whenever I dream about a relative that has passed away I wake up feeling all sorts. I don’t know whether it’s because I sorta watched Inception the day before or what because meeting my uncle was part of a larger dream so it is kinda strange because usually I just met them immediately. This one I need an introduction of some sort. Well.. what is it?

So there I was having lunch with a bunch of friends when I saw my eldest sister passing by. I called her but she didn’t hear me so I followed her. She goes to another restaurant and it turns out she was having lunch with some of our cousins. I was sorta mad at her for not inviting me along and then that’s where I saw Wa Emon, with his wife, Wa Ati, and another man who I thought was his youngest son but I’m not entirely sure who he was. It feels like he’s a relative though and he wears the same clothes as Wa Emon. In that room the people I remember was my sister, another cousin, my uncle, his wife, this one guy, they weren’t the only ones there, just the one that I remember clearly. We talked and joked for a while. I think I even converse with my uncle, meaning I talk and he just smiles like he usually does. Then it was time for pictures. The group gathers and I get the lucky job of being the photographer. Strangely enough, although it was a group photo, all I can see in the viewfinder was my aunt who was looking into the camera, my uncle and this guy, but the two of them would not look into the camera and was actually turning sideways so I can only see their figure. I coax them to look into the camera but they wouldn’t budge so I just took the picture as is. That’s when I suddenly feel so sad. I cried. I felt my face, and it that hazy state when you’re just waking up, my cheeks felt wet. I literally was crying. I woke up and tears were still streaming down my face.

I wanted to call my mom immediately but of course daily chores await. There are children that needs to be woken up for school, coaxed to have a shower, helped get dressed, combed their hair, etc all the usual morning chaos. Once all morning chores are done and my kids are off to school, then I called my mom to rehash such dreams. She laughed when I told her all the intro leading up to me meeting Wa Emon. How elaborate, she said. Then as I told her about this guy whom I though was his youngest son but doesn’t look at all familiar, she immediately let a little yelp,”Ah! That’s probably Ade, his first son! Remember?” Oh yes… They have 3 children; 1 girl and 2 boys. One of the boy passed away when he was young and I was about 4 or 5 years old. I don’t have a clear memory of him so it makes sense that I don’t recognise him, just felt that he’s a relative. That’s why he’s dressed like Wa Emon, like father like son πŸ˜‰ But then, if this guy was Wa Emon’s son, why is he so big? Didn’t he died when he was a boy? Well, perhaps they grow. Apparently old people turns younger and young people gets older. That’s probably true, my uncle certainly did not look as old as when he died, though he didn’t look like say a 20 yr old but definitely younger like maybe around 50 (he died in his 70s) so why can’t his son grew older?

And the clothes? Here’s the interesting part. I once dreamed about another dead uncle who was a naval officer (he actually got 2 stars which makes him a general, well, in the army he would be called a general. Am not sure what the naval terms is in English) so he was wearing what looked like his white navy uniform. Wa Emon was wearing normal clothes, a green shirt and khaki pants, but I was pretty sure he was wearing batik. Not just any batik, but Megamendung batik, a pattern from Cirebon, where my mom’s family is from. I couldn’t be 100% sure but I know it wasn’t a plain green shirt. My Mom said that perhaps, maybe they’ve met the Cirebon clan, who know? Yep that makes sense. Why not? That’s where they hail from, what would be so strange about wearing a batik pattern that originates from that area?

Well you know how dreams are supposed to be a manifest of all the things that happened or didn’t happened to you? That’s one definition. Another is how it is supposed to give you clues. I’m no dream expert but with limited knowledge that I have, the first part of the dream, where with my friends, is either because I’m missing them – I missed a gathering last week because Babeh was sick – or I’m excited because I’m going to meet them later today. As for my sister, according to my mom, my uncle tried to helped her once but didn’t succeed so maybe that’s why she’s the one ‘chosen’ to guide my way. And the photo shoot? My mom thinks it’s because my aunt is still alive, she’s the only one that was able to look into the camera. My uncle and his son (by now we agreed he was most probably my dead cousin) is no longer with us so that’s why they turned their face away. Why do I cried? I guess I miss Wa Emon more that I realise. It is our first Ramadhan without him and soon would be our first Eid. Who would’ve thought that last year’s Eid would be our last Eid together?

My dear Wa Emon, I miss you, my mom misses you, in fact I think everyone miss you. Thank you for visiting me last night. How are you? Judging from how you look, I trust you are well and you are not alone I see. Was that your son? Hi cousin, so sorry for not recognising you but you look well too, must be nice to be with your dad now. We miss your dad very much but we’re happy he’s happy over there. Al Fatihah for all of you.

Until we meet again πŸ™‚

My mom and her siblings during Eid 2008. Wa Emon is the one on the right.

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Surgeon for a Day

In high school I toyed about going to medicine and becoming a surgeon. I took biology and one of the things we did was dissecting a fetal pig to learn about the organs. It was probably the coolest biology experiment ever! In high school that is. Some kids in my class were a bit squeamish about the prospect of cutting an animal, as for me, I was curious, I wonder what that would be…

And so the day came. We were each given a metal pan, a set of gloves, scalpel, and a worksheet. Our biology teacher, mr R. came round giving us a fetal pig. One on each pan. Now these pigs weren’t killed for the purpose of this experiment, they were stillborn pigs that got preserved for science. At least that’s what mr R said. He gave us some instruction, namely be careful when cutting the pig open, don’t press too hard or we’ll cut into the organ too; the pig is just babies, their skin are very thin. Another one, well this is more like a warning, the scalpel are sharp so no hurting oneself or the person next to us. Which of course prompts the boys to pretend poke their neighbour with the said scalpel.

Taking a deep breath, I turn the pig onto its back and start cutting. Very slowly… Somehow I manage to cut it open without harming the organs inside. Yay! Extra points! Then we push back the skin to take a better look at the organs and my… It was so neatly organised inside, it was simply amazing. It is just like a puzzle where everything has a place and it all fits together; the heart, the lungs, the intestine, the ribs. I was just amazed by it all.

That’s when I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to be a surgeon? You get to cut people up, fix whatever is wrong inside then patch them back up again. Yes it would be but before one gets to be a surgeon, one has to be a doctor first, and in order to do that one needs to learn more science, not just Biology and this is when this dream rapidly evaporated.

At the end of 9th grade, we can choose the subjects we want to study for our IGCSE. Initially I took combined science as I thought it was important to know all three and yet I don’t want to take them individually as I want to learn other things too. However, not enough kids took that subject so we had to take one science subject or drop 2 subjects to take all three. I happen to like my other subjects so first I took Physics. First class, the teacher (I forgot whom now) give us a rubber band, told us to take out a ruler and eraser then go figure out some Physics formula. Huh?

All I can think about was there’s no way I’d take Chemistry since I barely pass it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to do the equations. All those letters and numbers… And that leaves me with… Biology! So for the remainder of high school, Biology it is then. No more flirting with Chemistry and or Physics.

So yeah, I once held a scalpel and dissect a formerly living being. For a brief moment I get a glimpse of what surgeons do for a living and though how cool would that be.. Then class is over, I landed back on the flatlands and promptly go back to my regular non-science classes πŸ˜€

*yes, I realised you can take extra classes should one wish to study medicine but no, I stayed firmly in the Social Science realm for my further education πŸ˜‰ *