COMMEMORATING Mother’s Day (Sunday, 14th May, 2017) could not have been more fulfilling for Agnes Saeve than digging up her mother’s grave, opening up the coffin and laying flowers inside.
This is one and half year after the death of her mother.
In the little township of Noro, Western Province of the Solomon Islands, the rare and nerve-racking event occurred on the day before the actual Mother’s Day last weekend.
The 26-year old girl was interviewed by Solomon Fresh-Beat Online about her motive and experience on what many societies will view as peculiar and gross.
“I actually went down, open the casket and found that her body has not rot at all. I cleaned up the wrappings, put some new ones and placed flowers inside.
“Everyone were very scared and have already moved back a distance when I started opening the casket,” she says.
In most Solomon Islands cultures, digging up a dead body is insensitive and gross and can amount to compensating immediate relatives of the dead person.
But Agnes Saeve, who is the only child in that family said she merely followed the Kiribati norm of cementing a grave.
“My deceased mother is of Gilbertese (Kiribati) origin who married to a man from Kolombangara.
“I am the only child but we adopted another who is my adopted brother. Our father has already remarried and the decision of cementing our mother’s grave falls entirely on my shoulder.
“I was supposed to cement her grave one year after she died, but I got a call and instructions from my mother’s relatives back in Kiribati who wanted me to follow their norm of digging a tomb to remove bones and re-placing them properly in a concrete crypt.
“This is how they ensure remains of their loved ones last.”
She says when the Mother’s Day approached, she thought it was a good time to visit her dead mother and gave her a safe and lasting tomb.
But what she found amazed her.
After one and half year, the carcass hardly rot, rendering it difficult to remove from the casket.
“She was like she has just been buried, and that made it difficult for me to remove from the casket.”
Asked about how she feels digging towards the casket and opening it, she said a few people helped in digging up the grave.
“When they get to the coffin, they all stood back, they were scared, and so my adopted brother and I took over.
“We opened it, to our surprise the wrapping clothes still looked new and intact. I opened it and surprisingly, her carcass hardly rotted.
“That makes it difficult to remove from the casket so we decided to lift the coffin so that we can cement a slab for as a base, but it seemed she refused because the casket was immovable.
“That’s when I decided to clean up a few things in the coffin, decorate, put flowers in and wish her a happy mother’s day.”
While everyone’s subsequent night was a sleepless one, Agness says she had the best sleep ever.
“It was a sense of fulfilment having physically visited mom, giving her flowers and wishing her a happy mother’s day.’
Agness Saeve has fulfilled her mother’s cultural norm of ensuring she rested peacefully in a permanent concrete vault.
*Story & Photos published by Solomon Fresh-Beat online with permission of interviewee.
|Agnes and her adopted brother open their mother's casket.|
|Wrapped carcass in the casket.|
|The digging revealed the casket that laid underground for one and half year.|
Source: Solomon Fresh-Beat Online News Service.