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13 January 2016

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Use to have this creepy feelings about cemeteries when I was young but little did I realised that every men's fate is sealed and death is an inevitable aspect of life and cemeteries are the last resting places for people that lived and walked on earth like everyone else. While we need to keep the cemeteries clean and tidy as a respect for deceased relatives we have come to love, it also should be worth reminding ourselves that death itself is the process of spiritual evolution to a state of higher spiritual realm/order. It is the butterfly cycle, it is when the physical body disintegrate that we fly off into higher order. Please respect our death for our time will surely come.

There is a growing cult starting up in the highlands and creeping down the highway to the coast.

These days people go to extremes in dressing up the graves of their dearly departed, one I saw had curtained glass windows and glass doors.

That's not to mention the very costly mourning period and funerals that are held. I was told by a friend that nowadays, "sapos yu laik igo long haus krai, bai yu mas kisim K50 na antap long han na igo".

I spent four years at Bomana (at the Catholic Seminary - not the prison) and frequently passed by both the public Cemetery and the War Cemetery.

One of the sad things about the War Cemetery was that most of those buried there were so young.

Regarding the Public Cemetery there was a story that one of the first, if not the first, bodies to be buried there was that of a parachutist whose parachute failed to open and whose body was buried where it landed – in the Cemetery.

I never succeeded in checking out if this report was true or not. Maybe newspaper archives or some old- timer could help verify.

I am reminded for some reason of the time as a Scout Leader when our troop on a hike passed an old country cemetery. One headstone read:

Stranger, pause as you go by,
As you are now, so once was I,
As I am now, so you will be,
Prepare thyself to follow me.

When I related that to my father he said he's seen someone scrawl in pencil under this well known verse:

To follow you, I am not content,
Until I know, which way you went.

Taphophile! interesting. At one stage, I turned to the obituary sections of the papers as I was fascinated to learn of the deceased and their stories but none as interesting as the conversation of the doubts and uncertainty of locating grave plots in Bomana.

Recently my cousin's in laws performed the rites of placing a headstone on their grandparents' grave. The irony of this is that they didn't know the location of the original plot where their late grandfather was buried much, much earlier (when they were toddlers).

When their grandmother passed on (almost a decade ago now) they requested to have her buried at the same plot. My cousin and I have been debating on whether that was the actual plot their late grandfather was buried on which they lay their late grandmother.

Was she laid where she was supposed to be, or that they have performed the rites and placed the headstone on that exact plot.

She describes, "It was a task for the cemetery attendant to locate the plot after a couple of mishaps." No points there on the part of her in laws, and with the lack of proper documentation of plots who's to say her doubts aren't justifiable. That's one thing we'll take to the grave, so to speak.

Peter, you remind me of a man from my village, Toak Londokai who had been recruited during the indentured highlands labour scheme in the 60s to work on the rubber plantations in Port Moresby. He never came home but lived in the city all his life. He had contracted AIDS and had died at the Port Moresby General Hospital at a time when victims were being buried alive in some parts of the country.

I presume he was one of the people buried in a mass grave. What a sad way to end up in an unmarked grave.

I mention Toank Londokai's name in my up coming book 'I can see my country clearly now' soon to be released.

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