I went back to my hometown last weekend to attend an annual graveyard festival. It’s a Chinese tradition that has been inherited from generation to generation and I have been following my parents to visit hometown every year to pay a visit and cleaning my grandpa’s and grandma’s grave. I miss my grandma a lot since she passed away on 1st Jan 2000. Exactly on the first day of Millenium year. I was 13 years old that year. I remember clearly what happened on that day. All the big families gather around my late-grandma’s side when she was sick and laying down on the floor waiting all the families member to gather surround her. She passed away around 5pm that day. I was terribly sad as far as I could remember. I used to call her when I was a kid, and also my Godma in my hometown. I called almost everyone every other day just to stay in touch. After her funeral and the wake that took place for 7 days, we all gathered around in the hometown’s living room waiting to be inherited the jewelry and everything my grandma’s has before she is gone. I didn’t understand much about those inheritance, but I knew all the family member was pretty tensed and some hoping to be divided some of those belongings; the hometown land, jewelries, cash, etc. I didn’t hope for anything big but I was hoping for something that can bring me memories with grandma. All the relatives suddenly sounded so different and their attitude towards each other change drastically after my grandma passed away. Almost at the end of the allotment, there is this one Buddha’s pendant made of jade which has not divided out to anyone. I prayed in my deep heart that I wanted something from Grandma as a memorial item, but I was too young and too small for them notice me. All her girls grandchildren’s had their own item. Suddenly, I heard my own aunt shouted my name. She said that I always remember to call my grandma from time to time to chat with her, ask her whereabouts and her condition. My youngest and the only aunt from my father’s side (the only daughter my grandma has) mentioned my name,  my 8th uncle asked everyone in the room if there is any objection. There were no objections as I hoped for. Then, I became the last and the youngest person to have my grandma’s possessions. Even though I was still young, I knew I had the less expensive item but that really means a lot to me. It was a smiling Buddha’s pendant. I still feel that she is somewhere else watching over me when I see that pendant. It was a sign that she wants me to remember her when she is gone the moment I was passed down that pendant. I still remember how you used to love me and remember me despise from the fact that you have over twenty plus grandchildren at that time. I miss you grandma. That’s one of many reason that I never refused to go back on that special date every year to pay you a visit. You were a great grandma. Love you grandma…

 

This year, I found this graveyard cleaning festival extremely special and meaningful for me because I finally get to know the real meaning and where this tradition came from. Through a friend who had never participated this event, he told me about the origin of this tradition.

 

In ancient times, there was this young scholar who was very smart and filial. One day, he went to out from where he lives to make a living and pursue his dreams. In order to success, he had to leave his home and where his mom lives. In the end, he becomes success.  He finally become a king and governs the country. He wants to share everything he has with his only family, his mom. And so he went back to his hometown, but to only know that his mom had passed away a long time ago. In the cemetery, he couldn’t find where his mom was buried. And so, he ordered all the villagers to pray and clean their families’ tomb every year to remember them and slip all the “yellow and white paper” to the soil where their families buried under. After everyone has done that, he finally could recognize his mom grave where nobody took care of the cleaning. It’s his filial that brought us this tradition and made it more meaningful. I hope in many generations to come, people would still do this.

 

And so, apart from the graveyard cleaning I also mentioned that the behavior from my relatives had changes since my grandma passed away. No exception too this year. After my grandma passed away, many things happened between my relatives from my dad’s side. Brotherhood seems broken apart when it comes to money issues, and some still brought up the story from ancient times. I had the fact that every time I go back to my hometown, people are wearing fake smiles. I can tell from the outside that people are falling apart from inside. They are no longer trust each other fully heartedly, but we live near to each other in hometown so there is no need for us to pull a long face to face each other. Humans are a complicated creature. Sometimes the ways we act are so unpredictable. I used to complain when I was a kid, that adults are so difficult to understand. Things are simple, why they made it so complicated. They have secrets, they can tell other many people, but not to the person they have problem with. And now, I become an adult. I begin to understand that human relationship is complicated. Sometimes it’s not just about telling the person you have problem with, so that the matter will be solved. Instead, sometimes it might arouse another problem. I can’t even understand why I behave certain ways sometime, how could I possible understand what other people thinking?

 

This trip made me old… a lot! One of my cousins brought up an album from a long time ago. I was in it… and it was full of memories. Every picture has its own date, I saw 1993… I began to count.. then we both came to 21 years ago!!! I was 7 years old that time. I looked around and realized that a dozen of kids from my cousins surrounded us made fun of how funny my cousins and I were in the album. Gosh!! Time flew fast! I looked around surrounding me, It hit me that I should already have my own family at this age. All the relatives concern about when I’m going to get married or have my own family. My parents are starting to worry too. I can tell that from their eyes. Everyone around them have grandchildren to play with, but not them. They have been rushing for my eldest brother to get married. But looks like my brother doesn’t have that plan to get married this year. My parents pinned the hope in me, but I can’t marry a girl. So I began to think that if I’m going to have a family, it will be me and my adopted son. I can’t marry a girl. My parents have been in a foul emotions too as they are getting older. Is it because all four of their sons unable to let them see a bit of hope getting close to marriage and building their own families? I believe partially are true. If they have a grandchild, they will have something to keep them busy and they won’t even have time to pout about negative things. There will be laughter at home and they will be thinking about positive side from time to time because they need to keep the baby happy all the time too. Like I said, 2014 doesn’t seem like a good year for me. A quarter had passed, and I haven’t have a good time yet. lol

 

 

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