*A TRIBUTE TO BEN
16June1957 - 5 January2008
I will never forget the look on Jackie, my sister's face, when she too, braved herself and gave a beautiful eulogy for the wake service. I wished there was more to be said about him for he was so rich in every experience whether encountered by me or anyone who had once crossed path with him. But I know that perhaps, no one might possibly be able to precisely encompass every description of what that had to be said of him.
To me, he is brilliant beyond words and numbers. He was like a walking calculator and a Thesaurus dictionary built into him at the same time. Excellent in every manner.
Ben had also been awarded the title, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in recognition of a programme of work entitled "The effect of frictional and thermal forces upon sea bed pipeline buckling behaviour" in 1986 and also, the title, Ir (Ingénieur).
His choice of music would have been a surprise to even his closest friends. It was wide ranging and almost diverse, to say the least. From the Blues and Soul to the likes of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Swing music by Glenn Miller to the oldies, country, Rock 'n' Roll down to the melodious Chinese classics and the humble Er Wu instrumentals.
Who would also have guessed that he had enjoyed reading Chinese Sword Fighting novels (Wu Xia Xiao Shuo) in his own private time in the bathroom that which may explain his infamous length of time he had to spend behind that closed space.
My brother described him right when he said, "Ben was truly a Doctor of Philosophy!" Ben loved his life and lived it well. He always seemed to know the right things to say or do. Whenever there was a crisis anywhere, he does not disappoint.
He was unpretentious, generous in both thought and deed. He just seems to leave an impression on people whom he meets without doing anything more other than gleaming on his warm babyish smile or a simple exchange of kind words. Whether it was the old lady at the Chinese stall dishing out his favourite ‘Char Kway Teow’, or the Malay stall with the ‘Mee Rebus’ by that tree in the sleepy part of Melaka town or the Indian mamak who prepares his ‘Roti Canai’ the way he would like it, which is ‘garing’ (crispy), they just never forget him.
The Melaka Eurasian community remembers him and adopts him as their own. He always had his name called out and welcomed whenever he stepped into pubs or restaurants by singers who are mostly made up from the close knitted Eurasian settlement.
So does the Indian community. It is true that he was the single first ever Chinese to own a life membership with the Malacca Indian Association (MIA) with the Membership No. LA 1150. He also liked to sign his name in Tamil sometimes but his unique handwriting, like his personality always give him away whether he wrote in English, Tamil or Chinese.
I wished he did make time to register with the Hokkien Eng Choon Association. He would always make just one more stop, just so he could point out to his children with pride for there it lies, his ancestry roots, whenever he had passed by a building with that signage. It would have been, but their honour to have his name enlisted in their Registry!
His childhood friends would have been able to write a book about their own growing up tales with him that would have left you in stitches or cried to bits, if you ask them. Some stories which would have been almost unbelievably mischievous while others, many very heart warming tests of friendship where they had continued to look out for one another through the years.
At the work place, he was well received and even loved. It was from the very same place that he had found his many friends that was made out for life. He was a sincere and caring colleague whether to his superiors or subordinates. He was a discoverer of talents and would create opportunities where there was none to make them shine.
His friends continue to move on with their lives despite the void. Like me, I think, they too, would take a lifetime to forget someone as witty, funny and clever as him. He makes remarks that one will not recover if unprepared. He was always able to just spontaneously makes his own smart anecdotes and humour injected quotations for the relevant moment that we still live by.
He was a loyal and filial son to his parents, even to the point of his very last breath. He has never forgotten the sacrifices made by the older generation for his academic achievements.
I have read enough mother-in-law jokes to safely say that none applies when it comes to the relationship between my late mom and Ben. He loved her dearly and she adored and thought most highly of him in return too. My late mom once told me that Ben was an easily misunderstood person simply because he seemed so different from the rest of us, that many may even considered him eccentric. She then likened him to Albert Einstein! She said to me, "You know, sometimes brilliant brains work just a little different. That is why we call them genius."
At home, what would his children think of him? When they were asked in school to name their idol or hero, they did not quote some famous footballer or rock star. It was an answer that would have been worth much more to any parent than owning the whole world.
And finally, he was my better half, my soul mate, my best friend, my Champion.. who had taught me many things for without which, would not have made my life as fulfilling and complete as it had been.
Looking forward to a reunion someday in Heaven.. my love.
Love you forever Ben, the proud father of my children!
Inserts: The dare devil biking pics which Ben loved.