I remember vividly that it was a Thursday. For reasons unknown, Thursday has always represented a sense of solemnness to me. A day for quiet thoughts and good effort, Thursday calls for that extra bit of “seriousness” just before one let down their hair to welcome the much-anticipated Friday and weekend.
It was a day, not unlike today. The erratic weather changed moods so frequently that I pondered the necessity of using the umbrella. I was on my way to the cemetery. I’ve felt compelled to visit ever since I saw a brochure detailing a heritage trail along the Hamilton East Cemetery.
After a seemingly long stroll, I finally reached the destination of the resting dead. These grounds commanded great respect and a strange sense of peace descended upon me.
People who lived centuries before lay beneath my feet. A caretaker sauntered past me, oblivious of my presence. The wind brushed across my face in a silent wail. There were no one else, but was I really alone?
After some time, I gave up trying to follow the heritage trail that was depicted in the brochure. Instead, I followed my instincts and walked on. Pretty flowers lined the tombs, which were mostly well maintained. Some did not escape the harsh conditionings of Time, though they too reflected a certain rustic beauty.
When it comes to visiting cemeteries, one difference between the Eastern and Western cultures stood out starkly in spite of various similarities. Both places command quiet respect, but of different magnitude and manner. While the former, associated the dead with much “rules” and “taboos” to avoid, the latter encompasses a somewhat more relaxed reception. Could that be the reason why I am more afraid of
ghosts spirits in Asia rather than those in western countries? 😮
Jokes aside, I do believe that cemeteries are conducive places for those who seek stories, quiet reflections and peace.
According to the Institute for Dark Tourism Research, “Dark tourism refers to the act of travel to sites of or sites associated with death.” This particular form of travel has sparked countless controversies but I believe it to be an intriguing subject that should be looked upon from a positive and educational angle.
Is it morbid to enjoy a stroll in the cemetery? Death is inevitably linked to Life, so why should it be such a taboo to learn more about it? I find myself wondering about the lives of those whom lived on this land. “Do they have the same dilemmas as we face today? What are their stories and do they exist beyond death?”
Unanswered thoughts swirled within my head, as dark clouds gathered above swiftly. Tiny droplets have started splattering, urging me to move on. I came upon a displaced flower and set it back into its rightful place.
~Hamilton East Cemetery~
The Hamilton East Cemetery is located next to the Hamilton Gardens. For more information, please visit: http://hamiltongardens.co.nz/collections/landscape-collection/hamilton-east-cemetery or download a copy of the Hamilton East Cemetery brochure here.