I recently lost a dear friend. It was a sudden death that left us shocked for a bit. Now the dust has settled in, and the grieving will hopefully find the strength to move on, without forgetting. This is for the late Benjamin McKay.
The first time I met Benjamin, I walked in through the door of a party, huffing and puffing, all grumpy. And I grumbled, “Oh my GOD. I was dropped off at the end of the road and as I made my way here truck drivers couldn’t stop whistling, catcalling, and offering me rides.”
Ben said, “Lucky YOU! I wish I had truck drivers whistling at ME!”
I didn’t know this older mat salleh man then, but I knew. I knew my night was going to be fabulous. And so it was. As all other nights spent in the company of Ben came to be.
One evening after a lengthy day of punctured tyre, boss issues, boy problems, I bumped into Ben in Bangsar after grocery shopping. My face must have been long from there to Japan because he immediately asked, “Are you okay? What’s wrong, darl?”
I told him and I didn’t feel like going home yet, he made me put the groceries in my car and sit down for a drink somewhere.
At the bar he ordered a martini, and when I said I have never had one, he was quite appalled. First, they were dirty, and martinis were drinks of enjoyment, I should get acquainted. I had to step out on several occasions throughout, to pick up phone calls. I kept apologising for leaving my handbag behind so he couldn’t go anywhere, not even the bathroom, while I was on the phone. To which he replied, “It’s ok, it’s ok, I was actually taking care of the martinis.”
At the end of that night, I felt beautiful and alive again.
Ben turned my worst days into the best, with his witty lines and positive presence. He taught me that even when things are really down, out and just plain bad, it is not that bad after all. He always saw the silver lining.
There was a huge twenty years age gap between us. But Ben never talked down to me. I always felt that in our conversations, Ben listened to me, responded and advised me like a peer, with much respect. I never felt belittled or made to feel childish. Although at times, I must admit I can be.
He was always punctual. Always the first to arrive and saving the rest of us “stuck in traffic” good seats at plays, film screenings, talks, etc.
Benjamin was always cheerful, and kind. Beyond that, he inspired others to always be cheerful and kind. He moved me to always mean what I say, say what I mean, without actually being mean. He stirred me to live a life I love, and love the life I live. For this, and so much more, I am forever indebted, and he will always be remembered fondly.
Benjamin wherever you are now, I know you are happy and safe, and free of worries. And in true Ben style, I know you are saving us the good seats, making sure there will be enough and plenty of martinis to go around.
Thank you Ben for the time spent with us. We love you. And we’ll see you later you sweet ol’ queen.