Gratitude to our ancestors

Ancestors\' tablets in temple

The first week of April, during the annual remembrance festival, my cousins and I went to visit the graves of our relatives (our grand father and mother and uncle). We all recalled in our own ways, our gratitude to our parents and our parent’s parents. We are glad to be here.

Our ancestors, either buried or cremated, not physically with us, silent, but are not forgotten. They are still alive in our mind. I guess, in their spirit world, they too are seeking out their missing ones, dead or life, in their own form, to tell stories about themselves and to listen to news of other persons or events.

Two years ago, my mother died, in the hospital; she was in a coma for forty days. It was my good fortune, to have my mother, to know her only when she decided to let you into her thoughts, was by her side and to share a house together, almost all her eighty years of life. Of course, there were many times over the years, we each thought the other was unthinking and that we had injured each other, by words and/or deeds, assured that we were not continuing to be together anymore, but then we stayed on anyway.

What I find most amazing is the fact that we have ancestors, relatives, brothers and sisters, not of our choosing, nether did they particularly had any interest in us, but yet we are part of this humanity. We are all related by blood and could reach each other, if we so desire, but often don’t, for mutual comfort, to help each other, to dispel our pains, fears, longings etc.

Keeping the dead alive

April is usually the time of the year when many Malaysian Chinese remember their dead by visiting the grave yard. This is a spring festival with a long tradition from China. This practice of keeping the dead alive takes many forms and expressions through out the world and every society and tribe has their own way of recalling their dead.

This is not ancestor worship like turning our fore fathers and mothers into some kind of gods but just an act to keep them in our mind. Our parents and grand parents are only dead if we stop thinking of them, giving thanks to them, being grateful to them for bring us into this world (sometime not of our own choosing).

Many people believe that the dead can speak on demand and they can have a direct line to their past, but if you don’t, the job of discovering, both the absence and presence simultaneously, of our lost ones, can be a difficult mental space to learn to grasp. For the rest, the usual way to remember our forebears, it may just be an act of conjuring up the thought of them (pleasant or otherwise).

The task is even more complicated if you happen to want to go seeking as far back as whom really our first ancestors were. Our ancient origins may be many many millions of years old, coming out from what is Africa today, to settle in different parts the earth. We may all have mix-blood down the line and are all even distant blood brothers and sisters (at war or at peace).

Greeness & Whiteness

Pulau Perhentian No

Victor Chin, Pulau Perhentian No.45 (detail), 2007, acrylics on canvas, 85 x 120 cm

This is the latest painting, in the Pulau Perhentian series, which was inspired by the South China Sea, in the east cost of Malaysia and Victor Chin continues to explore the theme with new visual variegations.

This mixture of olive green, light green, light blue, under glazed red and yellow patches is covered over with streaking pale white marks and drippings. The artist, in this work, is letting the shapes, forms and lines shift themselves freely, into submission, in making this abstract construction.

Looking at this artwork, one may be lead, to imagine being in an undersea cave, with millions of stalactites, hanging from the roof of the cave. To others, who have been inside a medieval Islamic building, they may well recall being overwhelmed by the extraordinarily complex coloured tile patterns found on the walls and ceiling of those magnificent structures.

In any case, the pleasure here, is, to see it as what you most like it to be. Enjoy.