GURCHARAN SINGH: KIRKBY 1958/1959 – R.I.P.

 

Last Friday I informed fellow Kirkbyites of the passing of Huang Soon Ngak. It is once again my sad duty to inform you all that Gurcharan Singh passed away this Friday (4 August 2006).

 

It is very disturbing that three Kirkbyites from the same batch had passed on in the space of three weeks: Fatimah Deen, Huang Soon Ngak & Gurcharan.

 

At the Ipoh Reunion, I learnt that Gurcharan was involved in an accident. Two weeks ago, I rang his house. His son answered my call and told me that his father was very sick with prostrate cancer and that he was sleeping. It was around 4.30 p.m. I was asked to call again after 5.30 p.m.

 

I called Gurcharan around 7.00 p.m. and managed to speak to him. I asked him how he was and he answered, “Very bad, Rama”. I asked him whether I could visit him but he told me, “Not now, wait another two weeks”. I chatted a little; told him to be brave and advised him to be positive.

 

Last week, I called him and managed to speak to him. He sounded rather weak. I asked

whether he could read. He said, “Yes”. I told him in that case I would pass him some Aliran magazines. I asked him if I could inform fellow Kirkbyites that he was not well. But he told me not to do so.

 

On Wednesday, I rang his house at night hoping to send the magazines at a suitable time in the next couple of days. His wife answered the call and informed me that Gucharan went into a coma that afternoon and had been admitted into hospital.

 

Poh Yuk and I visited him on Thursday. His condition was very serious and we thought that it would be a matter days before he left us. I dropped in at the hospital again this evening to visit him and to my horror I was told that he had passed away the previous day.

 

I called his wife to convey our condolences. I learned that the funeral would take place tomorrow. The cortege would leave his home at 12.30 p.m. I called a few Kirkby friends to inform them of this sad news: Abdul Rashid, Ho Peng Yoong, Rosalyn, Cheah Phee Chye, Khoo Jin Eng and Tan Teong Kooi.

 

Gurcharan and I were from the same Block 8. He was the first Kirkbyite that I came into contact with soon after arriving at Kirkby that cold and dreadful night. When we arrived by coach from the Lime Street railway station, there were no Seniors around to greet us or to help carry our bags. It appeared that there was some misunderstanding and as a result the Seniors stayed away from us.

 

So we had to carry our bags. Mr Struthers came along to show us our rooms. My Room was No 49. The corridors appeared to be ill lit. The narrow corridors seemed to cram us in. The room was small and the bulb was not very bright. The whole place appeared to be deserted. Not a soul was around. It was such a lonely place!

 

I changed into my pajamas and slowly went to the washroom area. Can’t remember why I went there. But there was this guy, tall and mean-looking, bearded and without his turban, brushing his teeth, standing in front of the wash-basin, facing the mirror. I saw his image with the aquiline nose in the mirror. He glared at me. I felt nervous. I tried to be friendly and greeted him. He screamed at me, “Get lost, Freshie”. I bolted to my room! What a frightful experience that was for me!!

 

Subsequently, Gurcharan was not mean or fierce. He was, in fact, very friendly. In college, he was involved in scouting and St John’s activities. Before the Seniors left, Gurcharan was commended for his social activities at the last College Assembly.

 

On his return, Gurcharan was posted to Penang and he served here until his retirement. He was very closely associated with scouting activities but St John’s was his passion. He was a top-notch man in St John’s and remained so until his passing. He was very highly regarded among the St John’s circle.

 

One night while traveling to Kuala Lumpur in bus, he recounted to me an experience that he went through. On one occasion he arrived in the early hours of the morning and took a cab. He was very happy that it was an Indian cab driver. There was another Indian next to him. Gurcharan wanted to go to the St. John’s Headquarters. But they took him to a lonely place, assaulted him, robbed him and even relieved him of his shoes. That was a very harrowing experience that he went through. 

 

He was also an active radio ham. He used to spend hours speaking to people all over the world.

 

Penang is a small place and we used to come into contact with each other very frequently. The hospital happened to be a convenient place for this purpose!

 

Those of us who knew Gurcharan will miss him and remember him fondly.

 

Farewell, my friend. May you rest in peace.

 

Those wishing to contact the family may find the following information useful:

 

31-K Jalan Zoo, Ayer Itam, 11500 PENANG

Tel/Fax: 04-828 0732

 

With very warm regards,

 

Rama

5 August 2006