Funerals and Missing Birds

The feeling that I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to at the weekend meant that I woke up today in a bad mood, although that was also influenced by having to get up earlier than usual.

I’d been to a funeral procession in Phachi Temple before, way back in my first week of teaching infact, but this morning was a bit different. Today marked four years since a former teacher in Watphachi School had died, and as well as the usual evening ceremonies many of the students proceeded to the temple this morning for an early service, whilst I tagged along at the back.

A row of trays were presented to us as we entered the main hall of the temple, and several pots of rice were soon brought out and placed beside them. Along with the other students I was told to scoop some rice and place some in each of the trays, which would then be used as an offering to the temple’s monks. Other visitors had brought their own food as gifts and I sat and watched the monks eat the feasts in front of them for a bit, the shrine to the deceased teacher displayed to the side of them. A session of prayers followed this and then it was back to school, but not before Bubpha told me there would be a second ceremony in the evening which all of Watphachi’s teachers would attend, including me. The lack of coffee running through me meant that I was barely awake at this point, but I was at least interested to how the evening events would be different.

ricetrays - Edited

monkseating - Edited

Of course, I had to get through the school day before all of that. Bubpha had clearly didn’t have any qualms with my solo teaching attempts last week so she let me plan a lesson with Prathom 6 today, and after skimming through their workbook topics I decided to start teaching them about sports. Overall it went a lot better than when I was left by myself last week, although since Bubpha was still in the room she was able to provide translations and smack any kids that were misbehaving, which helped a lot. Not that the latter was needed though, since the benefit of Prathom 6 is that they’re the oldest and easiest to teach class in the whole school, and I had plenty of familiar faces in front of me who I always find amusing.

monkpresents - EditedMy afternoon lessons were less eventful, and after eating at a Phachi restaurant in the evening with Bubpha I changed into completely black clothing, as is traditional for Thai funerals, and headed to the temple for the second time today. There were no rice pots needing to be filled this time, and the room was full of teachers from Watphachi as well as many others from local schools that Bubpha knew. A large golden goblet was passed through the crowd which was used for individual prayers, and the monks were once again supplied with boxes of food. We were given supper as well (my second of the night), which turned out to be a Chinese soup dish that tasted a lot nicer than it first looked, but these were taken away once the monks started prayers again. The shrine to the deceased teacher seemed a lot more prominent than it had done this morning, and the greenery and miniature fountain it contained highlighted how impressive it was. I’ve only been to one funeral in England but it’s weird to see how it contrasts to the processions here. Despite the fact that everyone clearly had some connection to this teacher, everything felt so normal, as if the procession would be carried out and accepted without any strong emotions being shown.

display - Edited


But that wasn’t the only school-related loss I had today.

byebyebirdieClearly one of the teachers had opened the casing of the fan that the bird from last week had been nesting in, as when I turned to check on it at lunch it had disappeared, the fan whirring as usual with no traces of a nest having ever been there.

So just like that, The Bird In The Fan was gone, as quickly as it had entered the school and my life less than a week ago. I feel slightly bad for implying that it was waiting to kill us all the other day, but I can only imagine it being happy to be on the road (well, the sky) seeking another unusual home. Maybe it’ll set up in a small disused heater, or even in another electric fan that’s closer in proximity to the ground.

Whatever it is you do bird, I’ll be thinking of you. Don’t forget to write.


♪ Memories… ♪


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