Apr 212013

COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo

DaphneCardilloBurial Rites

After narrating the incident to a friend, he said:  “I know it is not easy to kill even when you know it would actually be a relief.  I am also a hunter so I have killed wild animals many times and of course as an agriculturist I had to kill domestic animals as well a few times.  It calls on some very basic instincts of us—the animal in us I suppose.”

Let me recount that incident again for even if it would appear partly stupid to go through the long wait, still the experience leaves a mark of my being alive on planet earth.

One cloudy morning in June of last year, my daughter saw a big mouse outside the door that led to the back of our yard.  Only accustomed to seeing a cat roving near the area, she got scared and ran upstairs asking me to see what she found.  At first, I did not make a budge although I was wondering why a mouse would stay right at your door.

When I checked on the rodent later, it had moved a few feet away from where my daughter saw it, apparently sick and dying.  At that instance, she told me to kill the mouse while I thought of burying it alive for good measure.  But I held back.  A part of me doesn’t want to hurt a dying animal.  So I said to her:  “Let’s just wait for the mouse to die.”

Indeed, that mouse ceased to look like a pest to me, like a fly or a mosquito that one would snap to extinction.  It was probably due to its size for it looked more like one of those guinea pigs eating kangkong that my Lolo kept in a cage many years ago.

Later in the afternoon when I thought it already dead, the mouse had crept into the yard.  When it started to rain, my daughter observed that the dying animal tried to hide under the grass.  But still wet within those tiny and thin leaves, it struggled to move slowly and finally found shelter under the fortune plant, a bush that has bigger foliage.  So I just told my girl, “We’ll bury it tomorrow.”

The following morning, the mouse lay dead under the fortune plant; right at the spot where we last saw it.  Its lower jaw had a gaping hole. It was apparently wounded.  So I decided to bury it.  With a bolo and still in my nightdress, I dug hole a foot away from where the dead mouse laid, picked it with a dust pan and placed it inside the hole, then covered it with earth.

When I was a small child, I buried a few domestic animals in Consolacion, the village of my childhood.  After a pet cat or a puppy died, I dug the earth and placed the dead animal underneath, built a mound over the ground, and surround it with pebbles or stones.  It was kind of a solemn ritual, probably acted out of innocence, or simple affinity with the living.




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