Uncle Eddie, Rocketman

Uncle Eddie Lim Seng Huat passed away this afternoon at a nursing home in Seremban. I don’t know exactly how old he was, medicine I think around 55. He was moved there from my grandmother’s house last week, for sale and according to my cousin, was quite unhappy about it. According to another aunt, he had refused food for the past few days. He couldn’t vent his frustrations by doing anything else except refusing to eat, because he’s been paralyzed since suffering a stroke last year.

Uncle Ah Huat was the most cruelly ridiculed person in my mother’s family because of his intellectual impairment. In my mother’s family of 14 siblings, there were people with adequate compassion, but that could hardly have negated the horrible treatment he received from the others who didn’t.

He used to roam the streets of Seremban. And I remember from the time I was four years old, on frequent visits to Seremban, that I would be half terrified of him because he would grab my hand and walk really quickly down the streets, shouting and raving at anyone he recognized, and also at some that he didn’t.

He had a transistor radio he would carry with him all the time, listening to BBC World Service, and then later repeating everything he heard on the world news. I remember buying him a replacement many years ago when he was so listless because his old one had broke.

He had a collection of badges, pins and stickers from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), for whom he ran errands during election campaigns, distributing flyers and banners. He used to show off his collection of “Rocket” badges, which he called them, because of the DAP emblem. I remember calling him Rocketman because of that.

I saw him a few years ago while stopping by Seremban on a drive to KL, and he was his usual effusive self after several minutes of quiet distrust, owing to the number of years between my visits. It was back to grabbing my hand and running through Seremban shouting at people after he had taken the time to warm up to me. I had free parking that day because he snatched my parking ticket, ran two blocks to my father’s family confectionery, asked for a handful of biscuits, ran to the parking warden’s station, and with a big silly grin, asked very loudly to pay by biscuit.

Uncle Ah Huat, Rocketman. R.I.P.

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