[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e visited my late father-in-law’s grave on Eid al-Fitr to read Ya Sin and pray on his behalf. This is a common practice on the Eid, maybe because families are gathered together at that time. He was buried only about a kilometer from our village. The cemetery was so humble and unassuming. Graves were marked by simple posts at the head and feet. More often than not, the posts were without writing of any kind. The posts were most often carved stone, but many were fashioned of wood. Some graves were only marked by oblong stones stood on end. Families could be seen righting stones that had toppled over. The arrangement of graves was not organized in any perceptible way, except that family members were buried close to one another.


The landscape was similarly bare and unpretentious. Coconut palms and a single species of white flowering tree were the only intentional plantings. The tree, Ervatamia coronaria or susun kelapa, was in flower, and had littered the cemetery floor with its small whorled flowers. The austerity of the scene was striking. Truly, those resting here had left everything of this world behind. Only the prayers of their offspring remained to connect them to this world, and when those descendants forgot them, their graves would vanish as well.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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