Thursday, November 05, 2015

"The following day, mother and son walked to the temple, where they met a monk and asked about Schwader's father. 'I don't know that name,' he replied, 'but you're welcome to look through the cemetery.' At first, all they saw were rows of discouragingly pristine tombstones, most of them clearly newer. But just before giving up, they came upon a cluster of older stones, decrepit and obscured by foliage, their Lao inscriptions nearly faded away. Except for one, Schwader noticed, with a barely legible engraving: THONGSAVANH VILAYTHONG. His father's name.

At dawn the next morning, Schwader, with his shaggy mane and cargo shorts, and a monk with close-cropped hair and a long orange robe paired up to lift the top off the stone tower, revealing a hollow where the jar of bones and ashes were kept. Five monks had formed a line beside the grave and began chanting in unison. Per Lao tradition, Schwader cleaned his father's bones and placed them in a bucket, along with flowers, candles, and incense. Soon, he and his mother were in a boat on the Mekong, gathering handfuls of the bowl's contents and scattering them on the river."

From the story, Home Away, in the November 2015 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Written by JJ Goode.

An absolutely wonderful and amazing story.

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