Since last July, one friend that has been constantly been in my thoughts was Malathi Das.
We spoke on the phone, a lot on Whatsapp and met on 5th April.
Much has been said about Mal as a spokeswoman for women, children and international legal and social issues.
I want to share about my friendship with Mal.
I met her in the late 90s when we volunteered together in the Law Society’s Publications Committee which was in charge of publishing the Singapore Law Gazette. When I mooted the idea to run a personal column in the Law Gazette in April 2003, she suggested the title for the column, Alter Ego. The column runs in that name to date.
I then followed Mal to be actively involved in LAWASIA. I was in New Delhi to cheer her on when she became the first Singaporean and female President to lead the organisation. I travelled to many countries with Mal to participate in LAWASIA’s conferences.
I served in the Council of the Law Society with Mal.
This was last followed by our working together in the Singapore Academy of Law’s Family Law and Children’s Rights Chapter.
What meant a lot to me was Mal, as a friend.
Yap TL, Helen Chia-Thomas, Raymond Yeo, Mal and I bonded together as family lawyers and became close friends. Mal named our Whatsapp chatgroup, Lady Grey Rocks. We shared our lows and highs as family lawyers, sought the wisdom of each other on family practice, our laughter, joys and sadness in life.
The group became bigger when our spouses were included into this special friendship by Mal. Mal named the larger chatgroup Earl and Lady Grey 5-0
Mal focused not only on the big things. Simpler things in life fascinated her and mattered as much to her. Books, the arts, food, dessert and knick knacks excited her. And she would speak about them with glee and excitement.
She would suggest the venues for our gatherings, select the cakes for the birthdays and always had special gifts for us. She never failed to support small home grown businesses in Singapore and overseas.
A few weeks ago, she shared about Mother Teresa on our Whatsapp group chat and remarked how she remembered that Mother Teresa is my role model as well.
After our last meeting, she sent me a whatsapp to tell me to pick up the book she was gifting me and hoped the wife and I will enjoy it.
Family law was very close to her heart. Again, a couple of weeks ago, she asked whether there were any Family Court decisions which involved family disputes due to Covid.
I know Mal to be positive, cheerful, with a big smile and a happy lift in her voice. And this continued even after her illness last year.
Mal always liked to do more than her share of the work. She would say that there is no time to waste, only time to roll up her sleeves and get to work!
She never gives up. And that was why I believed she would bounce back when she fell critically ill that Monday.
We wanted God to create a miracle.
After her illness last year, I told her on several occasions: “Mal, we, your friends are going to live life with you. We will pull through together as we always did.”
I could see that it was becoming very difficult for her after last July through our Whatsapp conversations. Her zeal for life was slowly dimming. She said in her last text to me: “We can meet in another place as well” in her response to my message to continue to push on in life together.
Her sudden passing has left the Lady Grey Rock group with a big hole in each one of us. We are now like a ship without the rudder.
Tears, heaviness of the heart and the loss of a very special comrade in law and life is just too much to handle.
But Mal will say: “Just keep going, guys. There is much to be done.”
We will honour you, Mal. Be our guiding light.
Till we meet,