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Friday, August 31, 2012

7 x 7. 49th day of my grandmother's passing. Remembering a dream.

I returned to Tokyo last night, on the eve of Malaysia's Independence Day.

55 years ago, my nation's fathers fought for liberation and attained it, through unity and faith. 31st of August, 1957.

I love my country. But I think, judging from the current political climate, there isn't much for me to celebrate.

Aside from being Malaysia's 55th Independence Day, 31st of August, 2012 is also the 49th day of my grandmother's passing, or the 7 x 7. For Buddhist customs, 1x7 (the first week), 3x7 (the third week), 5x7 and finally, 7x7, are marked by a short praying ceremony.

I was around for both the first week and the fifth week.

On the 5th week (5x7), a ritual was held to put her plaque on the walls of a temple.

Today marks the 5th week of grandma's passing. A ritual was held to put her plaque on the walls of a temple.
My only regret is that I wasn't around for the 7x7. Many of my cousins, uncles and aunts, have came all the way from my mother's hometown of Ipoh and gathered for this.

This morning I woke up and saw my cousin Pui Kuan posting this on her Facebook.

"我昨天晚上梦到ah Yan 坐飞机回来了我们全部人去接她! 她肥了也美了! 她还说她在坐飞机时很开心因为有很多看不完的节目。
Ah Yan 今天以是第四十九天了我还以为你不会来找我。
谢谢您 我们爱您。:') "

(note: The children of my grandmother's sons called her "ah yan 阿人" sticking to the traditions of Taishan, Guangzhou. Meanwhile, the children of of her daughters, like me, merely stick with a normal "popo 婆婆")

My translation:

"Last night I dreamed that grandmother arrived on a plane and all of us were there to pick her up. She had put on a little weight and looked prettier. She also told us that she enjoyed the flight because she could watch many different programs in the plane. Grandma, I thought you wouldn't visit me on the 49th day, yet you did, Thank you, we loved you."

A few of us had dreamt of grandma since her death.

When I was writing about her funeral last month, my mother told me of her dream. This was how I ended that post.

Just moments ago, while I was typing this, my mom walked into the room, she had just woken up from a nap.

"I had a dream of mother. She was handing out ang pows to the kids." She said, referring to the tiny red envelopes handed out during Chinese New Year. And then, mom smiled.

I didn't actually write the entire dream because the first half sounded more poignant.

In truth, after my mom saw grandma handing out ang pows, grandma told mom that she (mom) still owed her 150 ringgit.

Mom was puzzled.

A few days after she had the dream of grandma, mom won the lottery. The prize was 150 ringgit.

I dreamed of grandma twice. One was a fleeting dream, I was in her house at Ipoh, and I walked past her. She was sitting on the sofa that she usually sat on.

Artistic shot of Grandma

Mom gives grandma angpow

Sister talking to grandma

I think she was busy talking to my aunts and cousins. Or to my mom or sister. We never exchanged a word.

The second dream came almost exactly a month after her death, during an afternoon nap. Because, for me, afternoon naps always brought me the most vivid dreams.

I was sitting on a stone bench in the middle of a field of flowers. The sky was turning gold, whether it was sunrise or sunset, I didn't know, I merely noticed that the swaying flowers were bathed in a soft golden hue. I turned around and saw grandmother sitting next to me.

Like my mother, even in my dream, I knew that grandmother was already dead.

"I was on the other side." She said.

"I know." I replied.

She smiled.

"Everything will be fine. That is what I found out when I was on the other side." She said.

I suddenly heard the distant sounds of rustling leaves and laughter, I think I saw some of my cousins.

"_______ will get married soon, and there will be fortune and joy." Grandmother said. The name she uttered was drowned off by the wind. I had a feeling she was referring to a family member. Perhaps one of my cousins.

I then saw a baby girl, walking about. She looked like Hanae (Ming Jin's daughter).

Ethereal baby

Yet she was also slightly different. Therefore, I knew she wasn't Hanae.

"Who is she?" I asked, looking at the baby.

"Their child." My grandmother said.

That was the end of the dream.

I woke up.

A few days later, I found out that my cousin's wife is pregnant with a baby girl.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My homage to Chris Marker - FLEETING IMAGES (2008)

The great filmmaker Chris Marker passed away two weeks ago at the age of 91.

Five years ago, I saw his short LA JETEE for the very first time, it left an indelible mark in my soul. So much that last month when I was wandering alone at the Haneda Airport observatory deck, I couldn't help but remember this film of his.

In 2008, having moved to Tokyo for the very first time, I decided watch my DVD of his masterpiece, SANS SOLEIL (which came together with LA JETEE). The film is referred to as a "film essay", it felt like a travelogue and a documentary, yet accompanied by a voiceover that was both oblique, cryptic and poetic. It was like a novel filled with snippets of stories and philosophical musings that, strangely, reminded me of Italo Calvino's novel, INVISIBLE CITIES.

I was never aware that this such sort of cinema had existed, I was so inspired by it, so suddenly overwhelmed by the possibilities that opened before me, I instantly wanted to make a film myself similar to SANS SOLEIL, using traveling footages of my 2007 trip in India, combined with a scrapped internet ad that I did with a rather well-known blogger/ columnist (and current aspiring model) Nicole Tan aka Nicolekiss.

My own experiment became a 10-minute short film called FLEETING IMAGES. I guess the film was important to me in a sense that it helped me confirm my own style as a director, that I was probably more comfortable with an introspective, meditative style of storytelling. My subsequent works would reinforce this, I think.

Two days after Chris Marker's passing, Cathy Munroe Hotes of Nishikata Film Review actually did a review of FLEETING IMAGES.

It had been 4 years since I made this film. I decided that perhaps it would be fitting to start a new Youtube account for all of my own short films, and that I should just share with the public, this insignificant and tiny little homage of mine to Chris Marker.

So, here you go. This is the film.

1-minute extract of my short, LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER

The folks at the Sapporo Short Film Fest have posted a 1-minute extract of my short film LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER on Youtube. The film is making its Japanese premiere at the festival next month, followed closely by screenings at the Nara International Film Festival a few days later. I'm pretty excited to have my film finally shown to the Japanese public.

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