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叶星优酸乳

叶星优酸乳

从阅读中汲取勇气和力量
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Record of a second burial

At four-thirty in the morning, I was awakened by my own alarm clock—it was time to get up. Today was the day of my grandfather's burial, as well as the Mid-Autumn Festival, destined to be a tiring but memorable day.

Downstairs, my parents had already gotten up early to cook the meals. My aunt and the neighbor's wife were sitting downstairs chatting. Uncle also came up to have breakfast with us. Soon, a few more people arrived, all of whom were going to "work" today.

Heading Out#

After a simple breakfast, my uncle and I went to my uncle's house first—we were four people in the car and needed to pick up the Feng Shui master first. The second car would depart half an hour later.

I don't believe in Feng Shui, but there are quite a few believers in my family. My dad probably doesn't believe in it either because he told me last night not to talk nonsense in the car to avoid unnecessary arguments—he knows I scoff at the idea of Feng Shui.

The road at five o'clock in the morning was still pitch black. Halfway there, my uncle called the master, and I could hear surprise in his voice. I thought they hadn't communicated the exact time beforehand.

We parked the car outside the post office and waited for about ten minutes until the Feng Shui master arrived on his electric bike. He was tall and thin, covered in dust, with a small black bag. He lowered his head and squeezed in.

It took half an hour before we gradually emerged from the darkness. There were very few vehicles on the road, and it was unusually quiet all around. Inside the car, my uncle and the master chatted animatedly, like long-lost friends.

Going Up the Mountain#

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The cemetery was located on a high mountain, overlooking the entire area—it could be considered an auspicious Feng Shui site.

To better carry tools and items, and to avoid climbing the mountain, we chose a pickup truck. On the way up the mountain, the truck got stuck in the potholes of the mountain road and couldn't go up or down. In order not to waste time, we had to temporarily leave it and come up with a solution after dealing with the burial matters.

After getting off the car, we walked on the mountain road for half an hour before reaching the cemetery. It was a three to four square meter platform. They had previously paved the ground with gravel. Looking out, there were lush green mountains on the opposite side, with a reservoir between this mountain and that mountain. In the middle of the platform was a hole dug, where my grandfather's golden urn would be buried.

Positioning#

The Feng Shui master took out a compass from his bag. The compass had signs of wear and tear, indicating it had been used for a long time. He placed the compass in front of the hole and flattened the soil around it. At the same time, he asked us to take a bag of rice grains we had prepared and place it at the bottom. I didn't understand the reason for using rice grains as a cushion, but I knew that rice grains seemed to symbolize abundance and were used in various ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.

The surface of the compass had two red lines intersecting to form a cross. He positioned it so that the compass aligned with the red lines. Then he took out a nylon rope, tied it to two wooden sticks, and inserted them in front and behind the hole. By moving the sticks, he aligned the nylon rope with the red lines on the compass. During this process, he used a plumb bob to ensure that the center of the hole was on the extension line of the red lines.

After adjusting the compass, the Feng Shui master explained to everyone one by one, using terms like "A, B, C, D, and E" and "officials and fathers." I didn't understand any of it, but a few relatives seemed to be fascinated by it.

When the Feng Shui master and the relatives confirmed the position, everything was ready.

Burial#

The golden urn placed aside was carried over, ready for burial. Before the burial, several things needed to be done: burning paper money at the hole, ensuring that the skull in the golden urn was properly positioned, covering the opening of the urn with red cloth, and placing four coins on top of the urn. The elders said a few words of blessing in front of the urn, and this process was called "saying good words." Then, under the cover of a black umbrella, two people lifted the golden urn and slowly placed it into the hole, sprinkling a few handfuls of "new soil" brought from home on top. After it was properly placed, the master picked up the bag of rice and started sprinkling it. There were a few coins mixed in the rice, and whoever picked up a coin would receive blessings. Some people were not allowed to participate in this burial process, such as my uncle who was born in the Year of the Tiger (or those who were 24 or 36 years old this year, etc.), and they needed to stay away to the east. The age and the direction to stand were designated by the Feng Shui master, supposedly to avoid clashes.

Next was the process of filling the hole with soil. With the swing of shovels and hoes, a mound of soil was piled up in about ten minutes. At this point, my uncle could come back. He found a higher position behind the mound on the right side. He murmured, "Men on the left, women on the right." After the simple grave was completed, my aunt and my aunt placed offerings such as a rooster, rice, and white wine on it. We then lit candles and incense, preparing for the worship.

At this point, the busy work was considered finished. Everyone found a place to sit down and started distributing the food we had brought—rice dumplings and pomelos. While eating, we poured wine for my grandfather, and after three rounds of wine, the worship was considered complete. Those who walked slowly started packing up and heading down the mountain, leaving a few people responsible for setting off firecrackers.

Returning Home#

We went up the mountain after seven o'clock and came down after nine o'clock. Most of the time was spent on the journey up and down the mountain, and dealing with the problem of the pickup truck being stuck delayed us for another thirty to forty minutes.

According to tradition, after returning home, everyone would gather together to have a hearty lunch before going home. This tradition was probably meant to give the relatives who rarely met a chance to chat. As for the location of the meal, it naturally took place at my house, and the cooking was mainly done by a few chefs in the family.

We started cutting and cooking from twelve o'clock when we arrived home, and we didn't finish until after two o'clock. Three full tables of dishes, seven dishes and twelve bowls on each table. According to tradition, this type of banquet usually requires ten dishes. But since it was all family members at the table, this scale could be considered a respectable reception.

Such traditions often exhaust the hosts. On the way back, I was thinking that everyone was tired and soaked since early morning, and they had to spend several hours cutting and cooking when they got back. If I were in charge, I would rather spend a little more money and go directly to a restaurant. But I also knew that it was not just about money, there were also matters of etiquette—being careless in hospitality would be considered impolite, and in the neighborhood, such etiquette was highly valued.

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