Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dead Spaces

Today, Wern wanted to visit the graveyard. According to her, graveyards in Malaysia are full of lalang and mosquitoes, whereas those in Australia are well-kept and... beautiful? So we (rather, she) planned it into our journey, which eventually included Monash University, (a wrong park), (some wrong roads), Carlton Gardens, (only the foyer of) the Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Central, Don Don - a Japanese diner, numerous tram, train and bus rides (a few of which were 'wrong' or at least miscalculated), lots of walking, and finally, Melbourne General Cemetery.

By the time we reached the cemetery, which is huge probably because it is so general, the clock showed half past four. The overcast sky and cold weather hung like sackcloth worn in mourning, as we surveyed acres and acres of graves before us. Crosses, statues, flowers, names, dates, tombstones repeated en masse. No living person was in sight. This was a rather scary thought, as a sign informed us that the gates would close at 5pm.

No one knew we were in there.

We could be accidentally (or purposely; we shan't assume) locked up inside.

We'd be spending the night with dead bodies.





In freaking 5 degrees Celcius.

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video was already looping in my head.

Wanting to leave no stone unturned, we said a quick prayer and made a dash for it. A dash inside, I mean.

We didn't stray too far from the tarred path or venture beyond a two-minute sprint to the exit. I took pictures like a nosy tourist while Wern turned sober like a proper human being with a good measure of respect for the dead. There were graves dating back to the 19th century. Most graves were nondescript; some were elaborate and gaudy; a few graves looked broken into. Wives joined husbands; children joined parents in their mortality. Jewish graves were sectioned together, much like how they remain an exclusive nation and people still.

Six feet beneath us lay thousands of bodies at various levels of decomposition. These people once led very different lives and meant different things to different people. Yet no one escaped death. Difference became neutralised by a common destiny.

We could have gone on the black narrow road for longer. But after 15 minutes, Wern began to hurry me home. Haha! Coward! I said. But I packed my camera, and we left.

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