Barely a week after writing about a wedding, I hardly expected that I would be writing about a funeral. If there is any indication that this research is urgent, it is the reminder that since I began my Masters research, two of my interviewees have passed away. Both were first generation migrants from Pakistan who arrived and settled in Singapore in the middle of last century.
I attended the funeral to pay my respects to the family of the deceased, who have been extremely warm and helpful since I first contacted them in May this year.
I suppose since it was a weekday morning, most of the people who attended the funeral were family, close relatives and elderly within the community. I had the opportunity to see a small crowd of elderly Pakistani men and women – most of whom were in their 60s and 70s, and some of whom I never knew were living in Singapore, let alone met or talked to. I met about four individuals who I had talked to in the course of this research, three of which were not related to the family but had known the daughter and son-in-law of the deceased. I wasn’t of course completely surprised to see them, as after all, like weddings, funerals too are events in which members of a community are bound to attend.
The funeral was managed by a local Imam who specialises in funeral arrangements, so there was nothing different or unfamiliar about attending it. The only difference I felt of course was when listening to the elderly folk talk to one another – they did so Hindko and Urdu. I followed to Masjid Pusara Aman where the solat Jenazah was held. In my car there was Uncle M and his nephew I. (I met Uncle M sometime before I started my Masters as he had gone for Umrah with my in-laws, and have been in regular contact with him.) The conversations we had during the 30 minute car ride was mostly centred around our visits to Pakistan as his nephew listened intently, having yet to make the visit. Our shared experiences of visiting Pakistan – having to take wudhu’ for subuh in freezing cold water, experiencing electricity shortages, discussing the cuisines – was definitely something that bonded us despite him being my senior by over 20 years. It helped of course that Uncle M’s father was from Mansehra, so I know very much what he was talking about since I have been there three times.
After the solat Jenazah at the mosque, the Jenazah was brought to the Pusara Abadi Muslim cemetery for burial.
When I was there, a friendly old man standing next to me asked if I was related to the family. He asked because he thought I “looked very Pakistani.”
May Allah swt bless the late Sakhawat Jan and her family.