Monday, January 9, 2012

Voodoo, cemeteries and earthquakes

i walk a bit in my local cemeteries. Near my neighbourhood is an area that consists of mostly cemeteries and car wreckers. i walk my little dog Tigger there. They are peaceful places and provide good short walks for my aging doglet.

i have got to know the graves a little. There is a grave for Mrs Tiny Mite, a famous circus midget who toured the world and who died being run over by a car here in Christchurch. There is the Jewish quarter, the graves having been moved from their orginal location in the CBD. There is a group grave for nuns from a local convent. There is a small section for children and babies, more recent than the rest, and they mix the gaudy and the sad with their plastic flowers and windmills and soggy teddy bears spilling onto the pathway. There is not much that is sadder than a soggy teddy bear.

The inscriptions have changed over time of course, becoming more secular and more personalised. i liked one that simply exclaimed: Mary Jane Dawson: Everybody loved her. My friend and i looked at each other, flung our arms wide and both at once we shouted ' I LOVE Mary Jane Dawson!!' And our arms widened and our smiles widened and at that minute we really did love Mary Jane Dawson, some random dead chick we'd never met, but who had made us briefly happy.

The earthquakes damaged the cemeteries of course, and many of the graves have fallen over. It took a lot of force to knock the columns off their plinths and crash the wrought iron fences. Liquefaction sits in some of the coffin spaces. Cracks have formed in the concrete, opening up the graves to the elements. Some have been cordoned off.

i had a recent voodoo moment in the cemetery, walking my little dog Tigger. A small aftershock took hold and i missed my footing in a grave as i was stepping over it. when i regained myself, Tigger was gone. i called for him, but he never answered, so i went looking in the fartherest reaches of the cemetery, where i didn't usually go. Walking and calling i came across the photo above. A little weathered statue on a stalk, clearly marking the grave of a loved pet. Called - Tigger.

Well, i found my Tigger, half hidden in foliage, eating something he shouldn't. He was unrepentant. i was strangely moved.

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