For work yesterday, I attended a wake. I suppose it’s really no secret now which wake that is.
Wakes and funerals are the worst part of my job. I loathe going for them more than you can ever imagine. Just picture it: a family is grieving, usually because a loved one died in a most horrific way (if it’s not horrific, it’s usually not news) and all these horrid, nosy reporters show up, jostling to get answers, even asking insensitive questions.
Do you blame yourself for his death? Did you know he was seeing prostitutes and visiting them in dodgy Geylang hotels? What are you going to do now that he didn’t leave you any money?
I try my best not to ask these things, but sometimes, I’m forced to. And to see tears of hurt welling up in someone’s eyes, as you open an old wound again and again, is one of the most heart-rending experiences you can think of.
Worse still, is the fact that sometimes, in the middle of these things, I’m overcome by grief. I cried when I stood by the grave of an eight year old girl as her parents were lowering her into the ground.
I can’t help it, but it’s understood that some families don’t appreciate us crying at the wakes of their loved ones.
After all, we didn’t know the person. And they know we’re just there to mine stories of sorrow and scandal. So sometimes, the angry reaction from the bereaved is: “Who are you to cry?”
Even if the family doesn’t mind, or doesn’t show it, breaking down can seriously compromise the job I’m trying to do. I remember someone once telling me over the phone how they had spent the last few moments with a loved one. She was sobbing, and I started crying so hard I couldn’t ask her the next question for a few minutes.
People get upset when they hear that we ask these things, or intrude on these families in their lowest moments. Yet these are the same people who devour the crime stories hungrily in the morning then gossip among themselves, passing around salacious details as if they were bit of gourmet chocolate.
So in short, it sucks balls.
And yet, sometimes, there are glimmers of hope. At yesterday’s wake, the family of the deceased was very poor. So poor they had been subsisting on cheap bread and instant noodles over the last few days.
But the undertaker took me aside and told me, “There have been well-wishers calling me, either because they know me, or because they’ve read about it.”
That eased my heart a little. And as I was sitting and talking with the family, who were red-eyed with tears and exhaustion, a car purred up.
The undertaker went to greet it and came back with a pile of crisp blue notes in his hands. “It’s $1,000. All for you,” he said, fanning out the notes to show the disbelieving family. “He doesn’t want to leave his name, but he’s a good samaritan.”
The car was just pulling out, a vague outline of a man visible in the driver’s seat.
The family members shot to their feet, waving frantically at him, mouthing “thank you, thank you”.
Through the glass, the shadowy figure waved back. I could almost see him smiling.
I hope more such shadowy figures read my story today.
Linen blazer - Topshop. Jersey tank - Cotton on.
Denim leggings - New Look. Gladiator sandals - Aldo.
Earrings - present from Tokidoki! Rings - Arialis, the zoo (believe it or not)
Experimenting with the flash in my bedroom. This was a low level flash on a very fast shutter speed (with the lights off) which made the colours wash out somewhat and the picture very dark. I kind of like it.
Oh, and I don’t actually have disco curtains in my room. They’re cream by day but somehow the flash makes all the metallic threads in them pop. HAH!
Blazer - Uniqlo. Boat shoes - Spain.
Shorts - Vintage. Watch - Tissot.
Graphic tee - Ecko
My stylish brother at the airport yesterday. He’s wearing pants so old that he can’t remember where he got them and the lock on the zip doesn’t work anymore.
He has to check it every few minutes to make sure that... well, he’s not blowing in the wind.
I told him for the sake of fashion, I would just say they were vintage.