Mummy wants to tell you a story about a dear friend named Uncle Geev. Uncle Geev passed away three days ago - I dont want to tell you how it happened because I want this to be a happy story - but let me just say that it was sudden and a really terrible way to lose someone so close.
Mummy and Uncle Geev were high school sweethearts; we met at a Mamak Stall under a tree in front of Aunty Casey's house. We were both 16 and a half, very young and very naive. We started out purely as friends, seeing each other from afar at first, and as we spent more time chatting with each other and learning about one another, our friendship blossomed into young love.
I remember sitting with him in the rain at a bus stop near Aunty Casey's house, when he first told me he loved me. How innocent we were then... thinking we knew what love was! But let me tell you Zara, the best love is always the most innocent.
As we spent more time together, I discovered that Uncle Geev and I were very different. We may have shared many of the same friends but as I got to know him better, I began to understand that not everyone in life was as fortunate as Mummy was, to be brought up in a nice home by both parents and to always have pocket money.
For some people, like Uncle Geev, life was hard. Mummy always had a lot of free time to study and hang out with friends, but when Uncle Geev came home from school, he was always helping his Mum at her small restaurant, making Appams and Thosais, and delivering food to other people's homes. Sometimes, their electricity was cut because they couldnt pay the bills. And sometimes, they didnt have enough money to fix the old red van that Uncle Geev used to drive when he delivered food. I remember more than a few times when the van broke down and Uncle Geev had to push it as far as he could by himself. And he would often spend time fixing the van himself to save whatever money they had on more important things.
When the shop closed for a while in the afternoon and then later for the night, Uncle Geev would finally have some time with his friends, and that's when he would call me from a payphone to talk to me about his day. If he could get the van to himself, sometimes he would come to visit me at Aunty Casey's house after tuition.
When we all finished high school, Mummy went to a nice college, but Uncle Geev had no money to continue his studies. His dream was to become an automotive engineer, and because he knew he didnt have the finances to study that at college, he spent lots of time educating himself. Uncle Geev was always at the mechanic's shop, watching, learning and helping. He also spent a lot of time fixing my old car.
One day, your Nana decided to help pay for him to go to college. It wasnt much, but Uncle Geev was so grateful to get the chance. Unfortunately, we couldnt help send him to a college that taught automotive engineering, so Uncle Geev studied IT instead. Uncle Geev made many dear friends in college, and everyone loved him because he was such a funny guy. Soon after though, Mummy went to study in Australia and it was there that Mummy broke his heart.
When Mummy came back from Australia, Uncle Geev was so kind to give Mummy another chance. But it wasnt meant to be for us. After 7 bittersweet years together, we had grown up and grown apart, and Mummy wanted so many things that Uncle Geev could not understand.
Mummy will always be sorry that she broke Uncle Geev's heart. But looking back, it was the best thing for the both of us. After Mummy and Uncle Geev went separate ways, Mummy eventually found Abah, and Uncle Geev started working with AirAsia. It was there that Uncle Geev got the chance to study aircraft engineering - not cars, his first passion - but certainly close enough. Uncle Geev took this golden chance so seriously and worked so hard to pass his exams. While studying, he continued to work on his other job at AirAsia, and on his off days, always returned to Klang, our hometown, to help his dear mum with her restaurant. Although he was tired, he was always working hard to better his life and to lift your God Aunty Paramas' burden.
Three weeks ago, after so many years of hardship, Uncle Geev finally graduated with a Masters in Engineering and became a Licensed Aircraft Engineer. He was the happiest man in the whole world! He told all his friends that he was going to buy a house for God Aunty Paramas so that she wouldnt have to work anymore, and that he was going to marry his new sweetheart next year. Fate was finally beginning to smile for Uncle Geev, and he was overjoyed the day he received his first salary as an engineer.
Sadly, that same night, Uncle Geev went out with some old friends to celebrate and never came home.
It was the saddest day of Mummy's life. Uncle Geev was just 31.
Mummy learnt a lot of things from Uncle Geev's short, but full life. Despite Uncle Geev's many hardships and disappointments, never once did he complain about his life. Although he didnt have many material things growing up - no nice car, no nice house, no fancy degree - and having to work so hard to help his tireless selfless mum, he was always very pragmatic about things, he never gave up and never forgot to smile. Uncle Geev made friends every where he went - friends of all races and backgrounds - there was no one too beneath him or too high above him that he couldnt get along with.
The other special thing about Uncle Geev was that he was never too tired or too busy to help anyone - he would always be there whenever you needed him. Mummy would know... even after Mummy left him, Uncle Geev helped me many many times when I was down on my luck. He never forgot me, and despite everything, had only the nicest things to say about me.
Mummy's two biggest regrets are that I never thanked Uncle Geev enough for being such a blessing in my life, and that he never got to meet you, my sweet angel. Mummy was always 'too busy' to meet up and because of that, you never had the chance to meet someone so important to Mummy's life.
Mummy wants you to learn some things from Uncle Geev's life.
First, always be grateful for what little you do have, and dont waste time thinking about the things you dont have.
Second, always be good to people, no matter who they are or where they're from. Good memories are the greatest legacy a person can leave behind.
Three, always work hard to be a better person than you already are. If you have a dream, pursue it! Dont let things like money (specifically, the lack of it) and hardship pull you down. If you really want it, you will and can find a way.
Four, never forget the people who sacrificed everything for you. No matter how hard Uncle Geev's day was, he never forgot to return home to help his poor tired mother.
Five, dont let heartbreak stop you from living. From what I know, Uncle Geev dropped out of college when I left, but it didnt stop him from bouncing back and trying to be a better person. In fact, he went on to become the best person he could be!
Finally, never take people for granted. Mummy had so many things I wanted to say to Uncle Geev, but never did. And now he's gone. Always remember to tell people you love them, and never be 'too busy' to spend time with those you care about.
I love you my little Zara, and I am so sure Uncle Geev would have loved you too. I wish you had had a chance to know him.
I hope you can offer him a prayer every now and then, that he may be happy in Heaven and that he knows he is not forgotten.
May Mummy's story about Uncle Geev live on in you always.