The bride wore black

(The Malaysian Insider) ALOR GAJAH, Aug 15 – The cheeks of the young children were stained with chocolate as they munched on Pocky chocolate-coated sticks while weaving in and out of the many legs that crowded the tiny living room in Teoh Beng Hock's family home here late this morning. Their eyes rounded in wonder.

A table in front of the family altar was laden with cakes and other traditional delicacies, including several kinds of sticky fried sweets peculiar to the Hokkien community during weddings only.

But nobody moved to help themselves to the food. They were waiting.

Soh Cher Wei arrived with her parents and siblings at her late fiance's home close to 11am. Today marked the day she would be formally inducted into the Teoh family, even if her intended no longer stood by her side.

The primary school teacher got engaged to the political secretary to first-term DAP Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah while he was a reporter with a Chinese daily, after a two-year courtship.

The hands of Beng Hock's younger sister, Teoh Lee Lan (left) places a gold band onto Soh Cher Wei's ring finger to signify the latter's "married" status.Cher Wei, who recently transferred back to her family home in Batu Pahat, was met at the door by Beng Hock's mother, Teng Shuw Hor, 56, and handed a bundle of lit joss sticks, smelling faintly of sandalwood.

Both made their way barefooted to the porch where a small, roofed shrine stood in a corner. Hands clasping the joss sticks, they bowed their heads in respect of the sky god before planting a few into a pot inside.

They returned to the main altar where Cher Wei continued her obeisance to Beng Hock's ancestors and family deities even as a slow Buddhist song played on softly in the background.

The all-important tea ceremony that followed next was highly-charged.

Cher Wei, dressed in a thin, knitted white cardigan over a knee-length black dress, knelt down alone in front of Beng Hock's parents and offered them a cup of tea each.

They accepted with both hands, drained the bitter brew, and completed the Chinese custom welcoming their younger son's wife into the family by handing her the traditional red packet.

The tears that glittered as they slid down her thin, pale cheeks were the only adornment on her face as Cher Wei greeted her weeping new in-laws, especially when 29-year-old Teoh Lee Lan, Beng Hock's youngest sister, slipped a bright gold band onto the ring finger on her right hand, marking her new status.

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