My son Chris and his family arrived here from Californian on Wednesday 9th July 2014 for a month’s holidays. The next day I was taken aback when he told me that they wanted to visit Chew Joo Chiat’s grave. I was lost for words. It was my joyous moment that my son had shown interest in his roots.
We arranged to visit Bukit Brown Cemetery on Saturday 12 July 2014. I visited the site many times and was quite confident of finding my great grandfather’s grave easily. I remembered a ‘No Entry’ sign board and a foot path beside it. When we arrived at the site I noticed the scenery there was different compared to before. Previously the foot path was narrow wet and soggy, and both sides of the path were covered with trees and thick foliage (picture 1). That day the foot-path was dry and well-trodden. There was less foliage and a few graves at sides of the foot-path were visible (picture 2). Chew Joo Chiat’s grave, a double tomb up the slope could not be seen from below.
I was disorientated by the change of scenery and had problem locating the grave. We walked to and fro the foot-path a number of times including driving to other locations to search for the grave. I was very sure that the footpath besides to the ‘No Entry’ signboard would lead us to Chew Joo Chiat's grave. The question was at which point to T-off from the foot-path. Fortunately I remembered an additional clue. Along the foot-path on the left hand side was a tree trunk with a patch of red paint (Picture 3). My great grandfather’s grave was directly opposite it on the right hand side. We found the tree with the red paint.
The girls were tired. I and Chris walked up the slope directly opposite the tree. Within a minute we saw Chew Joo Chiat’s double tomb. We could not find it earlier because we were facing the side of the grave. Furthermore, the tomb was completely covered with vegetation except for the front tombstones. The girls were waiting at the foot path and Chris went to announce the good news. He led them to the site (picture 4, 5 & 6).
Picture 4,5 & 6
All of us were very happy and smiling. Chris said “mission accomplished”. We took a few pictures. It was our momentous hour finding and connected to our roots as the 4th, 5th and 6th generations (Picture No 7 & 8).
Picture 7 & 8
Picture (9) shows the double tomb. Chew Joo Chiat's tomb is on the right. The tomb on the left belongs to his second wife Tan Quan Neo who was a Peranakan. For some reasons she was not buried beside her husband Chew Joo Chiat. I found her buried at another site by itself quite a distance away.