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Session 5 - Wisdom and Death

Writer-in-residence, Kembali: Liyana Nasyita

Engagement date: 30 June 2022


This session was similarly structured to the previous one, where the elders began with the mirroring activity and later continued the choreography with Haizad.

I was waiting anxiously for Haizad to be transparent with the elders about the set-up of the props and their meaning. The act of walking toward the flowerpots, picking them up, planting an imaginary branch into the pot and circling the table is meant to encapsulate the elders’ last moments of bidding goodbye to the person they love – whoever the elder wants to imagine it to be. I met with Haizad’s evading eyes as he continued to choreograph steps without getting back to the elders on their questions about the props. I knew Haizad was not ready to explain.

However, as I observed the elders through the weeks, I interrogated our (facilitators and I) assumptions on (talking about) death. Through my small conversations with the elders and eavesdropping on their conversations with one another, I realise that it is not difficult for them to talk about death after all. I often hear them utter casually, “Alah, satu hari nanti kita pergi jugak.” (One day, it will be our turn to go.), “Kubur dah panggil, ni.” (The grave is calling us.)

Death is very conscious in the minds of the elders (and even me, as I speak) as they believe in the transient state of their lives. Shaped by their religious philosophy where everything and everyone will return to the Almighty one day, these elders share seeds of wisdom in their utterances, which is a good reminder to a learning youth like me.


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