SINGAPORE - Madam Ong Ah Tang let out a scream of anguish when she arrived at Teochew Funeral Parlour on Ubi Road 4 on Sunday afternoon.
The woman, who lost her husband and son in the gruesome Kovan double murder last Wednesday, collapsed into the arms of a relative.
Thus began the first day of the wake of automotive workshop owner Tan Boon Sin, 67, and Mr Tan Chee Heong, 42, an electronics product businessman, the two victims of the double killing that has gripped the country.
It was "utterly incomprehensible", family members said, as they struggled to make sense of what could have led to the tragic events of last Wednesday, the day of the murders.
The Tans arrived, looking composed, at the Singapore General Hospital mortuary at about 12.30pm on Sunday to claim the bodies.
Four were present - the younger Mr Tan's widow, his uncle Ong Boon Kok, his brother Tan Chee Wee and his sister-in-law.
They came, and left, in two separate vehicles - one bearing the fateful "14J" number plate that has drawn much attention. It was also the licence plate of the blood-stained car that dragged Mr Tan Chee Heong 1km from the 14J Hillside Drive corner terrace unit to Kovan MRT station.
It took some four hours for the bodies to arrive at the funeral parlour, a testament of the extent of work that was done to ensure they looked presentable.
|Kovan murder suspect captured on restaurant CCTVClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST YouTube channel)|
|Cops enter home of Kovan murder suspectClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST)|
|Kovan double murder: Cop arrestedClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: ST, Internet)|
|Kovan murder victim identifiedClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: TNP, Lianhe Wanbao, ST, Facebook)|
|*UPDATED* Kovan double murderClick on thumbnail to view (Photos: TNP, ST)|
Whatever brave front the family members were able to muster at the morgue came undone at the parlour. As the rites began at about 5.30pm, Madam Ong declined to participate, perhaps due to Chinese superstition that the old should not send off the young.
But when undertakers asked if anybody would like one last look before the open casket was nailed shut, she screamed that she wanted to have a final moment.
She wailed after seeing for the first time the bodies of her husband and son, screaming in Mandarin "Good heavens!" and "Chee Heong, my good boy!"
Mrs Tan Chee Heong, a former air stewardess and housewife, also broke down during the ceremony and, at one point, leaned on her 10-year-old older son for support.
The boy, a student at Rosyth School, also took a break from the rituals, appearing weakened.
His brother, aged three, perhaps not yet fully comprehending the situation, was heard saying: "Mummy, I want to eat at home."
The wake on Sunday was attended by more than 100 immediate family members and friends who went to pay their final respects.
By the end of the night, at least 10 wreaths were delivered - two of which came from the Singapore Police Force. This gesture, of delivering a wreath to the deceased who were not part of the force, is believed to be unprecedented.
The funeral was held on Tuesday, on the seventh day after the brutal murders.
Additional reporting by Priscilla Goy