I believe in magic because I believe magic doesn’t have to happen in a blink of an eye, magic doesn’t have to include fairies or genies and we can work on our own magic. I’ve seen three magical deaths – a too-many visitors, a smiling face and a sleep-like angle. All deaths of my loved ones – my grandfather, my grandmother and my aunt.
I was still in school when, Embah Atuk (my grandfather) went away. He was in his eighties. He died after a long suffering of stroke. His right-side body was paralyzed. My grandfather was very dear to me because I spent much of my childhood in my hometown due to my mother’s work. I used to ride his back when I was little – a privilege he reserved for not many of his grandchildren.
My grandfather was a very wise man. When he was just paralyzed, he called all of his children home, including my mother. He wanted to discuss the matters regarding his will. I remember that happened on his birthday and that was the first and the last time I ever celebrated my grandfather’s birthday.
When he died, the magic happened – the number of visitors was overwhelming. I recalled one of my aunt saying, “Who are these people?” People sitting in the house. People standing in the lawn. People waiting in the verandah. People following the parade to graveyard. People known and not known to our family. I suspect those were the people related to the charity works he had done.
The second one – my grandmother – happened when I was 23. After my grandfather died, my grandmother literally lost her other half. Her appetite, her mood, her energy, all cut into halves. I think it was because she spent years nursing Embah Atuk when he was sick. There seemed to be a huge, sickening hollow in her heart. She talked about him a lot.
My grandmother had always given me, my brother and my sister money, be it festive season or not, every single time we went back hometown. When my grandfather was still around, they did this together. My mother disapproved it every time and they insisted every time. The last time we went there before she died and my mother refused the gift as always, she said, “This is the last one. This is the last one.” When she said this, my heart skipped a beat and my breath stopped. Later, I knew my sister and mother felt the same too. But like all unsure matters regarding death, we kept quiet when it happened. This was the first magic – the clear sign.
My grandmother was admitted to the hospital only two days before she went away. On the hospital bed, she gave away her will and she reminded her children to always stick together no matter what after she was gone. She died smiling – the second magic.
The third magical death – my aunt – happened last year. She was my dad’s cousin. I just got to know her a few years back. She was always smiling, soft-spoken and looked years younger than her actual age.
Like my grandmother, she didn’t suffer from any serious sickness before she went away despite the age. She died in her sleep. She looked as if she were still sleeping in her coffin. I could never forget her still, yellowish face.
Three magical deaths, all of my loved ones, get me thinking all the time, “What would my death be like?”