I just arrived from Seremban, with Dany and his brother (and Smash and family in the other car). Then drove back all the way from Putra Heights.
Ben, my dearest Ben finally succumbed to his illness and passed away around 3.40+ pm Thursday, 24 January 2008. I was not around, neither was Rizal nor Dany - but I was told it was so easy and peaceful for him.
He is going to be buried tomorrow nearby his other relatives in Seremban.
I buried Shahrol (whom I consider as a brother) last 3 months, and later this morning I will bury a brother, a friend, a sparring partner, an Agony Aunt, a punching bag and perhaps the biggest influence in my life so far.
If you have lived all your adult life around Ben, you know that his life will not be as normal as other people due to his illness (after all there is nothing normal about Ben), yet there's a strong defence mechanism in the form of denials that IT will never happen.
Yesterday afternoon, IT finally happened.
And I don't know what I feel. Not a sudden sadness the way I received the news of Shahrol's death (maybe because I have cried so much already for the past 2 months for Ben), not a relief either, it's void.
I just feel void. Though momentarily in the car or standing around or a glance of his body brought tears. Actually it has not sunk in.
Anyway I don't know where to begin. Last 2 weeks when it became clear that his days were numbered, I began to think what I would write about Ben.
Maybe not tonight, I am too tired and the mind is too erratic.
I will write soon while all the emotions and thoughts are still fresh in my mind. Quite soon - and I will write every single thing that I can remember about Ben if possible, because I don't ever want to forget him even for a second.
In 1992 he wrote to me from Abingdon, Oxford:
".. Long ago I shot my bow
Where it fell I didn't know
Much later in a huge great oak
I picked it up still unbroke
Ku layangkan panah ke udara
Hilangnya jatuh entah ke mana
Nun jauh di kebun getah
Bila ku ambil tak jua patah..."
He always wanted me to be the arrow that flies high, that vanquishes the enemy (as he put it then), that remains intact in spite of all the trials and tribulations. I just never thought (then and now) that while the arrow can fly high - the person who is supposed to pick the arrow at the end of its (the arrow's) flight will not be there anymore.
Good night Ben. There can never be another you. And I have been so privileged to have been so close to you.