Jun 28, 2011

Not one but two significant people in the community have died in the last three days ... the first was Araluen's father (she works at the art centre) He had a heart attack and passed saturday night - i heard the horns beeping around midnight. Iggy's daycare was closed on monday out of respect as was all the offices in Yirrkala. Will, of course has gone away this week, and so Kade had to decide whether to close the art centre as well. He did since the staff said this would be best, we all stayed at work anyways.

This morning when we thought things back to normal we heard tooting again and the news spread that another person has passed. This lady was sick and had been sick for awhile now but still sad since she was an important person and artist. As in accordance to Yolngu custom all her artwork was removed from the gallery and no-one is allowed to say her name aloud. This custom is for every deceased person for as long as it takes for their spirit to go to the proper resting place... which takes about three years or more... saying their name aloud confuses their spirits and they linger for longer.

We went to the house to pay our respects. One of the most intense experiences of my life. We walked up as the Wandawuy mob were walking up with the clap sticks going slowly. Wanapa ushered us into the dark house where we stood over the body. The women started howling, weeping and wailing, throwing themselves on the floor, and i instantly started crying too as the grief in the room was so heavy. so real, so awful. I never even met this woman.

The art centre closed again and still everyone stayed at work. But I left and took the boys to town for a swim and retail therapy of any kind. .. anything really to try and recover from the feeling in that room...

lets hope for a better day tomorrow and hope that the saying that these things come in threes does not ring true ...  one thing is for sure there will be a lot of missing people as the funerals start - Yolngu funerals last minimum two weeks and can go for easily four...

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