Thursday, March 10, 2011

Death Tax

Walking to school yesterday, I heard a distant wailing. I walked onward.

Passing the hospital, I turned to my right and saw a small crowd of villagers gathered around a small building at its southwest corner.

The morgue.

A death in our town.

The wailing is unsettling. It isn't blood curdling. It is chilling. It resonates deep within you and arouses the rarely thought about fact that we are mortal.

At school, the Director of Studies walked into the teachers lounge at lunch and wrote a short message on the board. One of the staff members aunts had passed on.

"Eh! You see that?" My counterpart Chris says to me. "They want to collect money from us..."

In times past, a death, like a wedding, would be cause for living family member to ask for small donations from the community to cover burial expenses and whatever else might involve in the official wrapping up of a family members life. A small basket would be passed around, and members would donate what they could.

But fraud arose. People announced deaths that did not actually occur. They collected money for burials that would not take place. And the public grew weary of making donations unless they new the person explicitly.

"... but they will take money from our accounts whether we want to give it or not," Chris continues.

Puzzled, I ask, "They can do that?! Just take money? FORCE a donation?"

"Of course. They who pay can do whatever they want."

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