Benjamin McKay’s body was my first experience with an open casket. His face was very square, surprisingly meaty; his shoulders blocky, snuggly fitted with the satin lining. A faint memory of a teddy bear stuffed somewhere. I had to hold on to some friends in the queue. Not really because I was emotional, I barely knew him — just hear him speak with the lovely combination of limp wrists and pudgy red cheeks… — it was my first time viewing an empty shell so closely. The Xiao En centre with its polished granite floors and colour coordinated identity system, was like a museum. What was most surreal was how the event was presented by the six footer drag queen Shelah. What more can a deceased homosexual ask for?

It was also refreshing that there were no mentions about god, or having hell notes burnt, or notes in the programme that said he is resting in heaven. Instead, at the burial plot, we sung that Judy Garland song, and besides a fistful of earth, we threw into the hole a scattering of paper cranes.

Now I can imagine that lonesome rectangular plot in Nilai dampened by the rain, muddy, as useless thoughts cloud my night. Some sentimental things about life? There was an urge to respond and to be grateful to the Alive ones after the event topped up my levels of affection. Now in this little square room all by myself, I crave for hugzzz.

* * *

Coincidence: Yasmin Ahmad was buried on the same day.

* * *

Another coincidence: At the time of Yasmin’s passing, about a year ago at this time, I was together enjoying an evening with a few friends: Vernon, Tommy, Alex. Just yesterday evening, all four of us were together again. What sort of energy arranged this, I wonder? A bringer of joy, at the time of a death?


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