Friday, December 02, 2005

A child dies in Rai Kotu

For the last couple of nights upon walking home, we noticed a big group of people sitting outside under tarpaulin. We wondered what the gathering was in aid of: a wedding or a funeral perhaps. It wasn’t until last night that I noticed the little white piece of material hanging from a stake which signals the death of a child and warns passers-by to be respectful*; a family in our neighbourhood has lost their child. We do not know the circumstances of the child’s death. The public mourning will continue for two weeks.

When little children die, it is usual to say “nia fila” (he/she returns). There is a fairly common belief that when infants die, they are sinless; hence deceased infants can be called “anju oan” (little angles).* Death is ever present in Timor. It is a constant of life here and is impossible to escape. Just in the last week or so we know of the deaths of two children and the death of a seven month old foetus in utero.

* Taken from Peace Corps East Timor Tetun Language Course, first edition 2003, p 133

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Português/Portuguese Français/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Español/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link