Revelations 14:11 

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”

Shot by: Danesh Daryanani
Location: Haw Par Villa
Opening Picture: https://wallpaperscraft.com
Sound: iMovie 9.0.9
Edited on: iMovie 9.0.9

 

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I’m an avid photographer. One of my projects is to capture Singapore in all its richness, nuances and quirks before it all fades into oblivion. My photoblog is called “Scenes from Singapore.”

I started it to capture street photography in Singapore but it has slightly expanded beyond that definition – but not too much.

Some scenes I have captured exist no more. For example, this graffiti inspired by the movie, “V is for Vendetta” (2005).

Recently, I ventured into a very old Muslim cemetery to take some shots there. I posted this photo on Facebook with the location tag of the cemetery (In this post, I’m keeping the location vague at the request of the cemetery caretaker).

Photo I posted onto Facebook © Danesh Daryanani

Not long after I posted the picture, a friend of mine, a Malay gentleman, contacted me. My friend, F, is the eldest among three siblings. There was however, a fourth sibling, a boy who was born just after him. Tragically, his brother departed at only 3-days-old in 1973.

F explained that his 3-day-old brother was buried in that very cemetery but he did not have the fortitude to visit his brother. He asked me if I would take him to find his brother. I, of course, immediately said “yes!” and set a date.

I sensed F needed to visit his brother for some sort of closure. Having been to the cemetery before, I know how old and overrun it is and I was not sure if we would be able to locate his brother. And each time I visited the cemetery, there was NO ONE there. Who to ask? I decided to go to the cemetery by myself again before accompanying F to see if I could make any sense of the plot and perhaps devise a strategy to find his brother.

View of the Cemetery © Danesh Daryanani

Alas, no clue. Again, there was no one. Many of the tombstones were unmarked, some were removed and placed in a pile, and others just buried under the plants and weeds that had proliferated over the years. Even those with inscription, many were faded and even if they haven’t, I wouldn’t be able to read jawi or Arabic script anyway.

I wasn’t hopeful that F would be able to find his brother.

On the morning I was to accompany him to visit the Muslim cemetery, I prayed to my Lord and ask that somehow, F will be able to identify at least the plot where his brother lay.

I picked F up. On the way to the cemetery, I attempted to manage his expectations on being able to find his brother. I parked a short distance from the cemetery, offered him some mosquito repellent, sprayed some on myself and took the short walk to the cemetery.

As soon as we walked in, we both saw a tattooed Indian man without a shirt. He saw us too and yelled, addressing us, “As-salamu alaykum!” (Peace be upon you). My friend yelled in reply, “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam.” (And unto you peace).

Caretaker © Danesh Daryanani

Caretaker explaining the geography of the cemetery © Danesh Daryanani

This was the first time ever I saw anyone there.

He happened to be the caretaker of the cemetery. This Indian gentleman was born into a devoutly Christian (Pentecostal) family (his father was a Pastor) but through his own journey, converted to Islam when he was 18. Although this gentleman has a fascinating history, I’m going to keep the details sketchy because he’s a very private person and prefers to remain that way.

I turned to the caretaker and explained that my friend F, was looking for his brother who was buried in the cemetery in 1973. Incidentally, 1973 was the last year that a burial took place in the cemetery.  Besides that, we had no information. Due to the understandable heartache and trauma of the infant death, neither his mother nor father could bring themselves to visit the cemetery.

Curious about me, he asked if I was a Muslim. I explained that I am a Christian. This surprised him on two counts.

I’m a Sindhi (and he knew that as it came out during the conversation). Sindhis are generally Hindu and extremely rare is a Sindhi Christian.

Secondly, he was surprised that a Christian brother would accompany his Muslim brother on such a task as this.

I told him that I take it as an honour and a sacred privilege that my Muslim friend would ask a Christian brother to help him find his brother in a Muslim cemetery.

Let me digress for a moment. There is a lot of talk during this period about Lee Kuan Yew’s accomplishment. The economic success, the glistening bay front area, the international reputation, and many other visible signs of success. But, I stopped and asked myself, “Which other country could see a Christian Sindhi, accompany a Malay Muslim helped by an Indian Muslim (converted from Christianity) to find his brother in an old Muslim Cemetery?” Along with the glitz, this is the stuff that makes Singapore special and would make LKY proud.

Couldn’t resist a wefie with the caretaker who was very game © Danesh Daryanani

OK, back to the main story.

The Indian caretaker took us around the cemetery explaining who was buried at which plot, the rough burial date of each section, what an infant’s grave looked like and through rambling with him, we finally came to a landing on the area (about 3 square metres), where F’s brother was buried.

Having identified the area where his brother lay, F asked me if he could have five minutes to pray for his brother. I said, “Of course. Take as much time as you need.”

I stepped aside, some distance away but close enough to see him.

What I saw was touching. He took out a small book which contained an excerpt of the verses from the Koran that is used for funerals. He was conducting the last rites for his brother. Here, the two first-born boys were united. This was closure.

A touching sight. My friend F, praying from the Koran for his brother © Danesh Daryanani

I watched from a respectable distance until he was finished.

We thanked the caretaker and promised to come back with kopi and curry-puffs to thank him and to shoot the breeze in the cemetery.

I took F home. He thanked me for accompanying him. I thanked him for the honour.

Two men. Different religions. Sure, we may not agree on everything. But there was kinship, there was respect and there was love.

——————–

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honour; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

Romans 12:9-13

 

Blows my mind. Every time. Can’t take it without tearing.

Totally redeemed.
Holy Communion

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’.

I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot ‘thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’

I sought no more after that which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning
With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
Banqueting
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that’s born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet
‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.’

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amarinthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must
Designer infinite!
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?

Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
‘And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

‘Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
‘And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

 

FULL transcript of the mother of the Tampines’ boys Mrs Yap (30/01/2012) – Translated from Mandarin

“Brothers and Sisters-in-Christ, peace be to you. To all the strangers who came today, I don’t know you all, but because of your love, thank you for coming today, I really appreciate your presence here today. Your support gives my family & I a lot of strength, or else I won’t be able to stand here today.”

“Today at about 4pm, while I was bathing, I heard a voice. A voice that tells me to share… how I came to know Jesus, and accepted Jesus.”

“I come to know Jesus because of my eldest son. My son Nigel is a hyperactive child, and He gave us MANY problems. My husband & I were on the brink of divorce. I’m not saying 宗教 (religion) is not good, because I know this is a sensitive issue. I just want to share with you my experience.”

“Now I do believe there is only One God. And there is really One God. And this God is good.”

“There are divine ways and solutions we were trying to seek, we even went to Malaysia to calm our child. But we couldn’t find the way. My child gave us a lot of problems.”

“But my sister introduced me to Jesus, she said “You tried every way. Why don’t you try and believe Jesus? He is also a God. Just come and try, if it doesn’t work then it’s okay.”

“So I agreed and decided to ask Jesus, it’s better to try than nothing right?”

“Once I believed in Jesus, my whole family has changed. In the past my husband and I ALWAYS quarrel. At that time I was just a new christian.”

“Being a Christian doesn’t mean we will not have difficulties, we will still face different trials. But relying and trusting in Jesus, we will definitely triumph in every trial.”

“Jesus saved our marriage. And through our eldest son, our whole family was soooo blessed.”

“Actually Donovan’s not my 2nd child, I had a miscarriage of my 2nd child after 2 months. It was difficult trying to conceive him. (cries)”

“After Donovan was born, He gave us a stronger encouragement. I believed that Donovan is from GOD, and I always thought, Nigel used to give us a lot of trouble, so God gave me Donovan to compensate what has been lost previously.”

“Actually my thinking was very wrong indeed.”

“Because GOD will SURELY give us the best.”

“Nigel, is also my BEST son, my precious son.”

“Last Saturday in Hokkien service, I was leading worship and Nigel was playing drums. My son, Nigel told me “Mummy, I don’t know how to drum, I don’t know how to drum Chinese New year songs.” I told him, “I know you can, you can surely do it!” And He really did. We were really good leading together.”

“And my youngest son, He loves to dance and sing. In Sunday school, we also paired up for dancing and singing. And we were a great pair.”

“I really thank God, that through this two sons, I have a lot more blessings than before.”

“I believe right now, they are in heaven.”

“During the night of tragedy, my sister dreamt that they were wearing white robes and a crown of glory, both holding hand-in-hand, and said ‘goodbye’ to my sister in laughter.”

“I really believe one day I will meet them in heaven one day.”

“Because of these two sons, I will continue to live on strongly… (cries).”

“I really thank you Singaporeans, for showing your love and support. I am really extremely appreciative. God is so good, All Glory to God (Hallelujah).”

Source: Multifolds Photography Facebook Page

When I read today’s papers, that is the Sunday Times of 28 February 2010, I was very pleased to read the article about the Ramakrishnan Mission and the Bartley Christian Church. The past weeks have seen a series of articles focusing on the intolerance of certain Christian groups. It was a breath of fresh air to read this article.

In a nutshell what happened was that Bartley Christian church opened a new church building this weekend and the car park is not big enough to accommodate the entire congregation. So what Ramakrishna mission did, which is a Hindu charitable outfit, was to offer their car park to churchgoers on Sundays. Nice.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is the Philippians 4:8. The New King James Version reads:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things”.

I’ve added the emphasis above to highlight the things I am supposed to dwell on.  Ramakrishna Mission’s act was certainly noble, lovely and of good report.

Even though I’m not from the Bartley Christian church, as a Christian, I want to say a big thank you to Ramakrishna mission for your hospitality, grace, and kindness.

This is going to be a quick post. I need to get ready for a whole day of meetings.

I love Shanghai so far. Arrived yesterday and checked in at 2pm. I’m staying at this really interesting hotel called Shanghai Hengshan Group Moller Villa Hotel, which is an old preserved mansion from 1936 that used to be the home of a certain Mr. Moller. Go and wiki him.

The hotel is Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale style. It’s almost like living in Hansel and Gretl’s little castle. I felt like licking the outside walls to see if tasted like gingerbread. I didn’t. Though I admit touching it and smelling my fingers. The rooms are well appointed and there is a really surreal fairy tale-ish cafe at one end of the garden where a friend and I had coffee and cognac.

I also love December Shanghai weather. I take the cold very well and I was walking around taking in the city in nothing more than what I would wear in Singapore with an addition of a leather jacket. 9 degrees celcius, light wind. No sweat. Pun intended.

From 2pm, I walked around the hotel area for about an hour or so then a Singaporean gentleman met me at 3pm and took me driving around the city. The Bund area, the jewish quarters, the financial district, etc. The architecture really struck me. Beautiful and eclectic and most fascinating. Whetted my appetite for more.

Hey, I’d like to go on but I really have to rush out of here. No Facebook or Twitter here so I’ll post the pictures I was able to take when I get back to Singapore tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some photos of the lovely, quaint and almost surreal Moller Villa Hotel. Click the pictures to enlarge.