Downtown Funeral Parlour

Hi guys, I am Bella Xu Zhouyuan, a year 4 Humanities student from Hong Kong Baptist University. My philosophy of storytelling is the story can resonate with a community and bear witness to social ... [+]

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"No!" was the cry of my heart as he left me. Despair added, whispered in my heart. It was so genuine; thanks for the gut-wrenching terror that jolted me awake, pulling me out of this nightmare. The sunlight through the curtain had struck me into a sense of syncope, recalled in a dream vision. Even though "dreams go by contraries", like dreaming about a snake indicates that you will get wealthy, I still decided to contact my grandfather to make sure he is really okay. I am too afraid to say a long farewell, and I will never be ready to do this.

This afternoon I never thought to hang out, but a friend's help call fell on me. Same building, same traffic signal sound, same barren cold, but it was the first time I noticed the Universal Funeral Parlour on the road to the metro station. The ochre surface and big black letters set this building apart from the surrounding red brick buildings of the Polytechnic University. Why do funeral parlours in Hong Kong seek to be located in the city centre? Isn't feng shui the most essential thing to the Chinese? Perhaps because of the awe of death, I dared not gaze at this building for a long time, soon forgot the funeral parlour in my headphone music.

My friend needed me to fix her washing machine which has been broken for 3 months. The water that had gathered in the machine had to be dealt with first. As the water is poured out, the muscles in the left arm holding the washing machine shake uncontrollably. I froze for a long time, thought that maybe I lacked the strength to support the washing machine. However, an invisible force appeared to exert increasing pressure on tugging at me, paralyzing me and attempting to draw me into the ground. There was a moment I was truly prepared to plunge into the abyss with this force. Blank, stalemate, and back. "Did you pull the power?" I asked immediately as the muscles twitched as if they were compelled. "No."

"Remember that you almost died tonight." my father, a former electrician, said seriously when I told him about my electrocution encounter. Then, a deluge of fundamental electrical knowledge poured into me from the other end of the phone. My intellect has still ceased to function, I wasn't sure if I was in lingering fear, all I knew was that everything was so calm and still, and I was on the verge of dying.

"Members are invited to attend the memorial service for Mr. Jiang at the xxx funeral home on November 21," I received this message on my phone, yes, my dear recitation instructor passed away a few days ago. November is the cruelest month, with chrysanthemums emerging from the dead ground, stirring the dull roots, mixing the memories of the living and the departed, covering the earth with forgotten autumn rains. You, Universal Funeral Parlour, is still on my way home. The dim light outlines your blurred form in the night, mysterious and solemn. Only you and I could hear each other's voices and fade away in the cold Fall breeze, in the silence of the land. I have the guts to look at you because of the darkness. Strength, independence, and devilish rebellion are inextricably intertwined with sadness, paralyzing vulnerability, and loss. I didn't want to hold this downtown funeral home responsible for all my tragedies today, seemed too superstitious. But its creepy vibe stood out in the otherwise dark neighborhood, played off thousands of my micro-emotions in a glance trying to tease that everything in front of it is little more than a smattering of ashes.

When I got home, as usual, I lay in bed, looked at the ceiling, and let go. Hoped that tonight people will not dream of separation and sorrow, but of happy love and blissful union, or just a serene sleep.

Death is a theme that almost all romantic writers are fond of chanting. Byron saw life a sad experience and yearned for death; Schopenhauer regarded death as the starting point of philosophy; Kafka viewed death as a mockery and punishment of reality; Flaubert treated death as a transcendence of personal fate; Akutagawa Ryunosuke considered death to escape life's loneliness; Haizi perceived death as a way to embrace spring and hope. The literati have constructed one transformational death consciousness after another, and in exploring the relationship between life and death, they all seem to be living to death.

Is it true that I'm terrified of death? Will I shed tears for my death? It appears that this is not the case. Then, what is the real fear of death? It could be the regret of not being able to say goodbye to all of my friends, and relatives; it could be the fear of confronting the thoughts and grief of my loved ones following my death; it could be the eagerness for the 37th chapter of Jane Eyre; it could be the yearning for the softness of Fried Souffle, the sweetness of coconut water, and all of the food in the world that I have never had a chance to try; it could be all the experiences that I have yet to have; It may be a teacher's warm embrace, a friend's happy hand in hand, father's soft touch on my forehead, mother's deep kiss on my cheeks.

Sleepiness gradually clouded my vision, and the shadows of the funeral home loomed in the darkness. Perhaps what should my attitude toward death be is also a question of why I am alive. But Lord, what will become of me, once I've lost my novelty to life?