Public Lament (Coffin Parade)

A short piece by Patrick dated 9 Aug 2016, though the file would only show the date of the last edit. The file name said “coffin parade” but the title in the file is “Public Lament.”

We were sitting in the bar having a cafè con leche. It was mid-morning. The local workmen had hours before already taken their first coffee laced with cognac, and would soon be having their second breakfast on whichever job site they found themselves. A little fire to heat up sausages and maybe fry a pork chop, washed down with wine. To get them through to lunchtime and the inevitable siesta.

So only a few of us extrajangeros occupied the tables under the vine. We kept pretty much to ourselves at this hour of the day. Christian in his corner leafing through the Ultima Hora tabloid. Andrew scratching his beard and scribbling in his spiral notebook. A couple of unknowns, suitcases at their feet, probably waiting for the bus, which was running a little late.

Soon the reason for the delay became apparent. Around the bed came a mule followed by a four wheeled wagon. The mule was led by Ferran, the local schoolteacher. Tall and lanky, he was dressed in a peasant costume of striped knee pants and loose white blouse with blooming sleeves and a black waistcoat. On his head a top hat and in his free hand, a cane. Behind him on this wagon was a coffin, a black coffin. On both sides of the wagon women with handkerchiefs to their face sobbed and wailed. Behind them trails others, the men beating their chests, lamenting the death of this member of the family who is in the coffin .

As the parade drew abreast of the terrace we read the sign on the top of the coffin. It declared that the priest had sold all the tombs in the cemetery, some of them more than once.

It was not a funeral as we thought, but a protest., a public way of calling attention to the fact .

I don’t know how it all turned out in the end. But I do know that they expanded the cemetery with another layer below and many of the extra Heroes that were buried there in the lower part but leaving places open on the top for the local folks.

Now the place is full again. I wonder what they will do this time on the side of a hill. There’s no room for expansion really. But of course if you don’t pay your rent or nobody pays your rent after you’re buried, then they will scrape out your remains and put it in the same Mutual Cemetery which is somewhere beneath the church I hear, although I don’t know.

Anyway, seems they’re always be another one being scraped out and another one being put in and I guess they have a record of who is where although what they do allow is for whatever stone you put up in memory of the person is left there. Soon will be no more wall space or ground space or any space at all for these stones that they’re putting up. Anyway…