MH370 STILL IN OUR HEARTS

It may have been ‘only’ 3 years, but for fam­i­lies, it must seem like a life­time

New Straits Times - - Viewpoint -

EV­ERY year, on or around March 8, a group of ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple, mostly Malaysians, gather to mark an an­niver­sary.

While most an­niver­saries are happy oc­ca­sions, this one is not. It is an an­niver­sary like no other. Not many peo­ple can un­der­stand what it is like. Peo­ple may say they do, but no, un­less they are part of this par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple, it is highly un­likely that they will un­der­stand what it is like. Nor would they ever.

This year, that an­niver­sary was “cel­e­brated” yes­ter­day. The term cel­e­brated is a mis­nomer, of course. It is hardly a cel­e­bra­tion at all.

For those who do not recog­nise the date, March 8 is the an­niver­sary of one of the big­gest aviation mys­ter­ies of all time, per­haps the big­gest. In fact, it could re­main the big­gest for years to come, if not for the rest of hu­man ex­is­tence. It was on that date that the first of two dis­as­ters hit Malaysia Air­lines in a year.

The dis­tur­bance that the dis­ap­pear­ance of flight MH370 caused still re­ver­ber­ates through­out the aviation in­dus­try. It is still a cause of con­cern for the na­tion, though some may think oth­er­wise.

But none of these — the aviation in­dus­try, Malaysia Air­lines or the na­tion — can even come close to those di­rectly af­fected by the loss of MH370. The fam­i­lies of those on board have been suf­fer­ing since that day years ago. It may have been “only” three years since, but for the fam­i­lies, it must seem a life­time ago.

These quiet he­roes have had to pick up their lives and carry on, mi­nus their loved ones. They have had to suf­fer in si­lence, com­forted only by one an­other. For, who else can un­der­stand what they are go­ing through other than those who share in their fate?

Those who know some of these un­for­tu­nates will know that they have dealt with their losses in dif­fer­ing ways. They have taken dif­fer­ent amounts of time to get back to a sem­blance of a nor­mal life. It is a mere sem­blance, of course, be­cause it can never be the same.

But they are strong, per­haps stronger than they have ever be­lieved they could be. They gather ev­ery year to “cel­e­brate” those they have lost. They cel­e­brate their loss to­gether, but they also cel­e­brate the lives of their loved ones and the mem­o­ries they have of them.

But they also gather to en­sure that the gov­ern­ments of Malaysia, China and Australia re­mem­ber that there are peo­ple who are still in the dark as to what tran­spired that aw­ful, fate­ful day, the day they them­selves died a lit­tle. They gather so that these gov­ern­ments and the peo­ple in­volved in in­ves­ti­gat­ing this tragedy re­mem­ber why they are do­ing it. That there are peo­ple who need to know what hap­pened and where the fi­nal rest­ing place of that par­tic­u­lar Boe­ing 777-200ER is lo­cated.

The search may be sus­pended, pend­ing more re­search and more cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion, but that doesn’t mean it has ended. The fam­i­lies con­tinue to hope that their prayers will be an­swered soon. They con­tinue to pray that the three gov­ern­ments, par­tic­u­larly our own, do not aban­don MH370, do not aban­don them.

For all in­tents and pur­poses, it seems that, for now at least, they have not been aban­doned. Ear­lier this week, Transport Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai met with the fam­ily of pas­sen­gers and crew of MH370. While he de­clined to speak to the press, out of re­spect to fam­ily mem­bers who re­quested he keep the de­tails of the meet­ing to him­self, it was un­der­stood that he had told them to be rest as­sured that Malaysia had not given up hope of find­ing MH370. Liow was also be­lieved to have told them that the search was only sus­pended, and not ended.

It is not back to the draw­ing board for those in­volved in the search. Old data is be­ing re­viewed, fol­low­ing the fail­ure to lo­cate the air­craft in the south­ern In­dian Ocean, as is the data culled from the search it­self. Mean­while, the de­bris con­firmed to be from MH370 or “most likely from MH370” is be­ing an­a­lysed again to see if they can give up some clue as to the lo­ca­tion of the crash site.

Liow’s at­ten­dance at yes­ter­day’s gath­er­ing is also a sign, per­haps, that the gov­ern­ment has not given up hope. Let us hope so, as we owe it to those aboard MH370 and their fam­ily mem­bers to con­tinue hop­ing and pray­ing that one day, an­swers will be found. That one day, there can be some form of clo­sure at least.

This col­umn is ded­i­cated to those who con­tinue to be on that eter­nal flight aboard MH370. More im­por­tantly, how­ever, this col­umn is also ded­i­cated to those they left be­hind, who miss them so dearly, whose strength and char­ac­ter will al­ways be a bea­con for those who have lost the ones they love.

These quiet he­roes have had to pick up their lives and carry on, mi­nus their loved ones. They have had to suf­fer in si­lence, com­forted only by one an­other. For, who else can un­der­stand what they are go­ing through other than those who share in their fate?

lesliea@nst.com.my The writer has more than two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence, much of which has been spent writ­ing about crime and the mil­i­tary. A die-hard Red Devil, he can usu­ally be found wear­ing a Manch­ester United jersey when out­side of work

This col­umn is ded­i­cated to those who con­tinue to be on that eter­nal flight aboard MH370, and those they left be­hind.

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