The last time I wrote on a typewriter I was living in Bedok Reservoir with our now dead grandfather Arwa Datuk Aman. Our uncle, Uncle Hamdan, who, despite his two adult children, had not yet left home, was the owner of this typewriter, and the funny stories we wrote as young children drained his ink – to his silent displeasure.
In hindsight, I think he enjoyed our company.
The flat at Bedok Reservoir I remember was often full of faces showing other forms of silent displeasure. Mak Long, perpetually upset with Abah, still could not help but ask for his advice on whether it was safe or not to eat mushrooms with some mould on them (“tell her a mushroom is already a fungus”), a grandfather annoyed that his grandson could not read out a phone number in Malay, and eventually a funeral procession of flowers over his silent body.
In the end, Hamdan sold the flat without asking for anyone’s permission.
The silence filled the house in the end.
The Malay word for funeral is “pengebumian” – from the root word “bumi”, meaning “earth”. Thus, a ritual or ceremony to return one to the Earth.