Excuse me for the pun but I’d been dying to visit the Northam Road Cemetery for a long time now. As a teenager, I used to identify myself as a bit of Goth type (but yet took offense when people thought me as one) and coveted the idea of hanging around in cemeteries like they do in the States. The autumn that we travelled to Istanbul, the 16-year-old me finally got the kicks out of admiring the old and beautiful Turkish cemeteries that peppered around some parts of the city. Remember, I was young and foolish. And supposedly Goth much.
The cemetery isn’t always on the itinerary of most people but N just proves to be different. It could be plain morbid curiosity or it could be his undying love for me but the man was up for it. Well, why not? George Town has one of the oldest cemeteries and definitely, one of the most historic ones. The Protestants, Catholics and Jews were gathered here(after) since the 1700s. Many colonialists hailing from the British Isles yet made Penang their second home were laid to rest here.
For the most part, we were alone in the cemetery (well, not unless you count the spirits who may roam the space). We meandered along the narrow paths and came upon impressive tombstones and crumbling mausoleums built close to one another. The place was so still in silence no matter how close it was to life in the city. Everything was colorless, including the giant spindly trees above us. The scene sort of fit the narratives engrained on the stones of those who perished— some were very young men who fought in WWI and ladies who left the earth due to sickness that could be cured easily today. And then there were the children and infants whose lives were cut too short.
It occurred to me how meaningful it was for me to be on such grounds with N and learning these personal histories of others and perhaps understanding a bit more about mortality. I mean, we could still do this together. Still. And that’s all that matters for now.
PS Our note on touring the Killing Fields.