Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Living and the Dead

This will be a short post.

Today, my mother and sister asked me to leave my language class early in order to participate in a grieving ceremony for my host grandmother who died 7 years ago today. I exited class at 11:30 AM and walked (rather, I limped after playing football on Saturday) the mile back to my house. We awaited the arrival of my twin uncles and thier wives and proceeded north about 3 city blocks, toward Kazahkastan (it is only a 25 minute walk to the border from my house). As we walked my sister told me stories of her grandmother; she talked about her last day in the hospital and told me how she and my Momma had tried to make it to the hospital when they heard that grandma was dying. They arrived too late to say goodbye. My sister was 16 years old and her grief was so overwhelming that the doctors couldn't restrain her. She told me how she lost all control when they told her that grandma was dead--she kicked and bit them and screamed into the the halls, hearing only her echoes wailing back.

When we arrived at the cemetary, my uncle brushed off the grave, carefully removing leaves and twigs. The graves of my host grandparents lay next to each other and a short fence surrounds their resting place. My grandmother's grave is marked by a marble headstone and my grandfather's by a wooden cross. My grandfather died on June 18, 2004--and I believe we are saving money for a marble headstone. There is a small table and bench within the fence and while my uncle tidied the space my mother and aunt set the table. Momma placed a danish on each grave and then the men were called to drink. We three men, raised our glasses of wine in toast and then sipped a little. We then poured wine on each grave and finished our glasses. Then the women drank and then the men again. We each ate some bread and hard candy before returning to the house where we feasted on pigs in the blanket, coca-cola and wine. Momma set a place for my grandmother and lit a candle in her stead. I was told that I will be eating these left-overs for dinner--which I find somewhat interesting.

On the way to the internet cafe, a child waved from his rooftop. He wore Rollerblades as he tried to ascend his slanted roof. When I asked him what he was doing, all he said was, "Extreme Sport".

I laughed and walked away--not wanting to witness the Extreme outcome.

That is all today.

Good bye.



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