Saint Mary’s Graveyard

In venturing down a busy street in search of St. Mary’s Graveyard, I discovered that no one really knows what you are looking for when you ask or how to get there. However, they will always pretend to know and give very detailed directions. My new theory is to ask every second person for directions and then average the responses. In my searching I began to look for anything that looked even remotely Christian, and by hook or crook I actually found the cemetery! I feel bad for all those who die on foreign soil and are buried on foreign soil. I feel especially bad for soldiers and people in common graves. Many are lost to their loved ones or have been gone and buried so long that no one remembers who they are.

I wandered through the cemetery looking at the tops of the graves and old monuments. I couldn’t actually venture close to these monuments and graves because the entire area is overgrown with the Indian version of a rose bush, an incredibly nasty bush. Perhaps a long gone mourner planted it on someone’s grave and it eventually took over.

There was life and death everywhere, all existing with its own eco-environment. As I stood in an old chipped stone arched monument (the words were too faint to read so I don’t know who) I peered over the side and found a tiny tiny little puppy sleeping by the monument. It was just me and this puppy at the monument amongst a tangle of rose bushes. He glanced up at me while I watched him and marvelled at how small he was, not much bigger than my hand.

I was unwilling to venture further into the bushes to see some of the more elaborate monuments because I was afraid of meeting snakes. I did, however, find a lizard jaw and a baby goat at the same time; the life / death thing again.

My quiet walk was ruined when four men appeared and started to follow and observe my every move. At one point I sat down to stencil elaborate details I found on a stone and all four got into a fight over who would hold the paper. When I was done I stood and gave them money so they would leave me in peace but this only fuelled their “more money, more money” chanting. When they started to get really aggressive I pushed back and left quickly — so much for the peace of a graveyard. I left and headed back to the Madras Fort because I know I will find cool, quiet and peace there.

There was some sort of to-do going on in the courtyard. Everyone was dressed in their best suit or sari and were listening to a bald man speak. I know I shouldn’t be so fascinated with the non-Indian part of India, but I am. Westerners study their history and their past — that’s how they define who we are. I’m quickly discovering that Indians live in the present — that’s how they define who they are. The past and the present in India seem to be exactly the same. The fort is exactly the same. It’s like the English moved out and the locals moved in and changed little. The gate keeper’s hut is now a restaurant, an old residence is now a barracks, the road is still dirt, the governor’s house is still a house, an old store is still a store, and the church is the church. In Canada we would have kicked everyone out and made it a historical site. I guess it could be seen as a living and breathing piece of history.

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