Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Departure

Born in China on 12th February 1916, he made a decision to come to Malaya back in 1930s. When asked, he informed me that he think he landed in Tumpat, Kelantan around 1937. "Can't remember", he said in Hokkien, "But I think 1937-lah".

During the Japanese Occupation, he was among the many Chinese detained in Tumpat, a story he told many.

He was married, and had 7 kids (5 boys, 2 girls). He made sure his family had a shelter, a house which some may say, a riverview home; since it faced a small river. He worked at a nearby dock for many years of his life, and helped his wife selling 'kuih' in Tumpat, and they both later had additional helpers when all the kids got older.

He always advised his kids to study hard and he was a proud father, though he hardly shows it, let alone say it. As things turn out, all his kids went on to hold decent paying jobs. His family grew bigger when his children went on to produce 14 grandchildren and from this 3rd generation, came the 4th generation of 5 great-grandchildren.

He went on to live till 16th November 2008, when he was 92.

He is my grandfather, Wee Peng Seang. 

My grandfather was a man whom all the grandkids and great-grandkids just loved. He hardly troubled anyone and even after our grandma passed away 9 years ago, he went on to live a quiet and independent life. He was a strong chap too. Only equipped with a bicycle half as old as him, you can almost certainly catch a glimpse of him cycling around the Tumpat village and beyond, even when he was in his eighties. I will always have fond memories of him with his famous hand gesture (almost like a lady-like hitler salute) as he cycle away to run his 'errands'. When we went back to Tumpat to visit him and grandma (when she was till around) he would whisk me away onto the back of his bicycle (of course when I was very much smaller & less fat) and take me along to run his 'errands', only to find out later that it mainly involves having a cuppa tea in his favourite neighbourhood coffeeshop. He would proudly tell his friends, "this is my grandson. He is Ah Hian's boy", referring to my dad, Wee Beng Hian.

And as I grew older, I begun to take note of his subtle but prominent assistance around the house. He would zoom off in his trusted bicycle the moment he hears grandma laments the lack of certain food to cook or the lack of stuff around the house. We will then see him return home not only with the items grandma wanted but with a few more things, like ice creams for the grandchildren. Later, he will quietly sits at a corner watching the TV, without disturbing or imposing on anyone to entertain him but yet, always smiling and entertaining any grandchild who went up to him. I remember him as the man who gets things done without much fuss and fanfare.

As he aged, particularly in the last few years, he still lived an independent lifestyle except of course he can't cycle out to buy his food, and instead our two aunties who lived with him, cooked for him. My dad and uncles would return to Tumpat every now and then to spend some quality time with him. As the wonderful grandfather he lived to be, he never once demanded money from any working grandchildren, instead, whenever we give him ang pows during CNY, he would either refuse or reluctantly take them and always making the comment, "You need the money more than me". Eventually some of my cousins buy him shirts and pants instead, particularly his his trademark wear ie, Short Sleeve Shirt and Knee Length Khaki Shorts.

One of my fondest memories with my grandfather was during the days when I was much younger; when he would share his tea by pouring his tea into the saucer while he drinks from the cup. I would slurp away the nice tea while I hear him talk proudly of my dad and my uncles.

On Sunday 16th November, I flew back to Tumpat in the early hours of the morning (at least it is for me as I am not a morning person), when I heard from my mom that my grandfather was very frail and not eating well. I knew I had to go back to see him. Even though it was only a day trip back, I will never forget that trip as upon returning to Subang airport, I got a call that my beloved grandfather has left us.

When I was still at his bedside that day, he could not talk and was struggling to breath but he knew... he knew I was next to him. It was really sad and overwhelming to see a man who is so strong, so independent and so brave yesterday, to be so weak and in so much pain today. Emotions got the better of me and I was in tears when I bid my farewell, knowing that it is probably my final wave to him.

My grandfather, The Man who decided to move from China, took a risk by moving to Malaya and end up leaving a dynasty of 3 Generations. I will do my best not to let his legacy down. I will miss him.


vee said...

sorry for the lost..

how about the sampan kat bawah rumah that you told me?is it still there?

Richard Wee said...

hey Dara.. that house with sampan below; is my mum's side. This grandad is my father's side. Though both my parents are from the same town of Tumpat, Kelantan.

In any event that House with the sampan is unfortunately not there anymore. It was recently torn down after being too dilapidated to repair.

Thanks for your comments..

Steven Lok said...

Hey Richard, sorry for your loss...

Richard Wee said...

Yo Steven.. thanks bro.

wee said...

never knew we all went through the ahkong standard operating procedure of bicycle ride and milo drinking from the saucer at his favourite "starbucks" in Tumpat, is it not called Merry Coffeshop? Anyways an excellent tribute posted. A great man he was and always will be, the man who came to Malaysia with little more than some pennies and left with abundance of warmth and love from the generation of WEES.
Miss him, I definately will.
WTS, Veencent

Richard Wee said...

yes Cousin.. looks we all went through the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) by Ah Kong. And yes, I think it was Merry Restaurant, though I remembered he took a few times to that shop just outside our Tumpat house, next to the Bus Station.

He was a cool chap.