BAU: The grandfather of Catherine Janet Tiwi, who perished in a fire at SK Batu Bungan in Mulu on Wednesday, says he breaks down every time he looks at her photograph.
Simon Jugei said he has also hardly eaten since being informed of Catherine’s death, and even feels like ‘following’ her into the afterlife.
“It was just another day yesterday (Wednesday) when a villager rode up to me on a motorcycle and told me my grandchild had died.
“I asked ‘Who?’ and when he told me it was Catherine, I almost fainted and couldn’t stop crying,” he told The Borneo Post, in between sobs, when met at Kampung Skio here yesterday prior to the arrival of Catherine’s remains from Miri.
He described Catherine as a ‘very respectful’ person who never failed to greet fellow villagers, especially elders and religious figures, upon encountering them whenever she came back.
According to Simon, his granddaughter did not exhibit any strange behaviour when she returned during the last school holiday except on the day before she was due to head back.
“After dinner that day, she sat quietly alone at the table – which was somewhat unusual – and seemed to be in deep thought,” he recalled.
Meanwhile, Catherine’s grandmother Sendi Abu had a difficult time maintaining her composure when talking about her late granddaughter.
“Whenever she came back for the holidays, she would come to my house and tell me to get dressed. When I asked ‘What for?’ she would say ‘To go to Bau to eat, of course!’,” said Sendi.
According to Sendi, Catherine had confided to her that she planned to get engaged to her boyfriend at the end of the year.
“Her boyfriend is here,” she said, pointing to the kitchen, “But I think he needs some privacy now.” During the interview, Catherine’s younger brother Aldrige Clement – a soldier serving in Peninsular Malaysia – arrived at the house having just flown back here.
Her uncle, Peter Nios, said it was best not to interview Aldrige as “he may not fully know what has happened”.
Meanwhile, school friend Sabrina Metree said she and Catherine had met up in Bung Jagoi on July 20 when the latter was back, adding that she could hardly believe it would be their last meeting.
“I had not seen her for quite a while. We were so happy to get to meet and catch up, and it never crossed my mind that such a tragedy could befall her,” she said.
Kampung Skio prayer leader Aboi Turan when met said Catherine was very close to everyone in the village, respectful to everyone and very helpful.
“She was a very active person. Very religious and friendly to everyone be they old or young.”