14 May 2009
In my last entry, I talked about things that bind cultures together. Well, there’s another one, and it’s obvious: death. Not the friendliest word, huh? I guess it depends on how you look at it. Whether it comforts or shakes you, it happens. Nobody can avoid it, no matter where he’s from.
What may separate us is how we handle it. I mean, all people have they’re own way of coping with such a profound part of life. Growing up, I experienced it when loved ones passed: the visitation the night before, the service at the church, and the burial. It’s all powerful and wonderful.
A Russian teacher at the school’s mother recently died, and Firuz, my host dad, encouraged me to go to the burial. Death’s an interesting thing around here. You just happen to hear about it from one person or another. There’s no big announcement, which might be a good thing. A man actually committed suicide recently, and I just heard about it from some folks here and there.
Anyway, at about three today, I waited at the center of town for a car to take me and whoever else to the cemetery. We got there, and it was me and a random assortment of men, wandering around, checking out the gravestones with the deceased’s pictures etched into them (interesting, huh?). One little boy, whom I have for English club, was crying with his face pressed against the leg of an older man. I felt kind of weird just standing around with these dudes, wondering what was going to happen.
Before I knew it, a large group of men walked into the cemetery. I approached them and joined the procession. They were hoisting the body, and they eventually made it to the hole where the body would be placed. It was carried on a big wooden plank, with blankets wrapped around it. There was no coffin. It was eventually placed into the hole, and a wooden board was put on top to seal it in. After the body was placed, several men took turns shoveling dirt into the hole until it was filled.
Once that was finished and the prayers were said, we processed out. I asked Firuz why no women came, and he told me they would come a few days later. That’s the tradition. We then went to the deceased’s house and had tea and chatted a little. It was a nice way to unwind a bit after being at the gravesite.
It’s interesting experiencing death in another culture. Like I said, it happens everywhere, and I honor how it’s done here. I’m sure it’s hard for those involved, but they also accept it. In a world where health care can vary, you sometimes must step aside and let the person die. I never heard any news coming up to it. All I heard was that Mrs. Taxıra’s mother died. I might be wrong, but I can picture her loved ones, sadly, but earnestly, nodding their heads in the living room, saying, “Yep, it was her time,” and that makes sense. Like Dad says, we aren’t immortal.