We walk, following the dead through narrow streets that could barely fit a car.  It is a procession, a solemn flash mob invading the small country roads.  People look at us as we pass by.

We continue along a small path that leads into the town cemetery.  Stone and gravel are crushed repeatedly under the shoes of almost a hundred mourners.  

In November, this same path must be covered with drops of candle wax, flower petals, and a mix of trash and dirt.

There are tall trees heavy with green mangoes.  I get a sudden thought that they must be well-nurtured by the dead.

They finally lay his casket down inside the chapel.  Sounds of weeping fill my ears, but I hear none from his wife.  She is not allowed to cry.

Outside, someone whimpers softly like a dog.  The wind carries the sound along with those of shovels scraping the ground, mixing cement.  When the cement has covered everything, the whimpering turns into howling.

A real dog comes along to sniff at our feet.

The sky is bright blue with barely a cloud in sight when they let white balloons fly into the air.  People start clapping.  

I hear someone tell a child, “look,” pointing up to the balloons with his lips.  ”Say goodbye to grandfather.”

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