To paraphrase crooner Andy Williams, "Where do I begin?" Where, indeed.
Serene and peaceful Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery is as good a place as any to begin my journey, although this tranquil piece of God's acre off Taman Tun Dr Ismail is more likely to be the final resting place, marking the end of one's brief wanderings on this good earth.
The sky was overcast, and dark clouds spanned the horizon as I threw open my windows this morning. The sun peeped briefly by mid-morning, its golden rays reflected on the glass panels of my balcony door, before retreating into a blanket of clouds.
The sky brightened considerably by two thirty in the afternoon as we wended our way amongst the marble tombstones to the site where literary giant and journo extraordinaire Pak Samad, who passed away yesterday evening after a brief illness, had just been buried.
We arrived as talqin was being read. We had not planned to be late. Unfortunately, something cropped up at home that needed immediate attention. I didn't lament our late arrival, truly. I was there to bid him goodbye, sadaqah my prayers, and offer my condolences to his family, especially my former colleague, his daughter Nuraina.
It was heartening to see so many of our media 'old-timers' at the site, people I used to work with, whom I had not met for decades. How good it felt to once again meet up with soft-spoken Zabedah (Kak Bedah), a contemporary of Adibah Amin and one-time editor of Berita Harian's Women's Desk. From her I learned of the demise, two years ago, of her husband and erstwhile Berita Harian supremo, Abang Din.
I kissed and hugged gentle Rashidah, wife of poet-novelist Datuk Samad Said. Shidah once wrote for Berita Harian but is now attached to Datuk Kadir Jasin's outfit, Berita Publishing. My eyes strayed to the grand old man of letters Pak Samad Said himself, sitting contemplatively under a shady tree.
And then there was Hanim Melan with her husband Johan, formerly of Malay Mail and The Star respectively, both of whom spent a good many years in New York where Johan was a correspondent, my one-time boss and editor Aziz Hassan (still a bachelor after all these years), and bosom buddy Muharyani Othman, once a specialist writer with NST, who had recently thrown her lot with Bernama.
I spied Ahirudin Atan (blogger Rocky) perched on an embankment trying to get a better view for his camera, Bernama TV head honcho Datuk Suhaimi immaculately attired and obviously from work, and Datuk Mahadzir Lokman (Dale), my one-time neighbour/yakking partner during the halcyon days of TV3, who has evolved into a celebrity himself.
Also paying homage to the memory of Pak Samad was my ex-colleague Swithin Monteiro, now retired, and yet another former colleague, Ishak Nengah, now an accomplished and much sought-after master of ceremonies. Ishak and I shared the common bond of having started work at the newspaper on the same day in 1973.
Despite the teeming presence of well-wishers, Nuraina graciously fielded questions from both the media and the visitors. Before leaving, I enveloped her in a warm embrace and kissed her wet cheeks. We left with a prayer in our hearts: "Ya Allah, please forgive arwah Pak Samad all his transgressions and place his soul in the company of the blessed. Amin."