On 27th August 2016, I had a chance to travel interstate by car to Sydney, New South Wales from Adelaide, South Australia via Melbourne, Victoria. My motive was to travel and meet some old friends and relatives. But I was actually helping Sameer, a God brother, to move to Sydney. During our second leg of the journey from Melbourne to Sydney it came to our notice that there were some graves on the roadside. We both observed these graves a few times while travelling but didn’t discuss anything about them. As we were more interested in enjoying our journey, the lush green countryside, our chitchat and having fun.
We stopped near a road sign from where Sydney was 615 kilometres away and an emergency phone 2 kilometres. We wanted to ease our legs, click some photos and broadcast a part of our journey on Facebook. At this place, rail track from Melbourne to Sydney, ran parallel to the road almost fifty metres apart. Throughout our journey the country was lush green and so was this place. We walked a little bit and clicked some photos. As we were walking we observed a grave that had a beautiful steel made cross on it.
I suggested to Sameer, “Bhaji (Brother)! We should check this out and have some photos.” He responded with fear, “Bhaji! Please don’t go near the grave and break his sleep. It is not a good thing to go near a grave.” Although I am also afraid of dead bodies and can’t even tolerate anyone bleeding. I even unfriend people online who post violent stuff and/or people suffering. But once a person is dead he/she is dead. It doesn’t matter you burn, bury, or do whatever with the dead body. It only matters as long as we are alive. So I responded, “Bhaji! The person is dead and buried at least six feet underground. He won’t come out. So why fear? Moreover, I am not going over his grave but just standing on the side.”
I was little bit curious and despite Sameer’s stopping I went near the grave and had a close look at it. A young man who was born in 1979 was buried underground. On the cross were mentioned his details and painted the logo “LMR Racing”. I stood there wondering why was he buried on the roadside in a public place? Since it was just a short stop, I asked Sameer to click some photos. He clicked some photos reluctantly. Actually he is a Hindu and I am a Sikh. In our cultures we don’t bury the dead, we burn them instead. So that explains our fear of graves. But I have never been afraid of cemeteries and graves although I detest dead bodies. After all, the death is evident and that is our final reality.
I kept on thinking and started walking towards our car parked on the roadside. As I was walking I saw another grave besides a big gum (eucalyptus) tree. Despite Sameer’s stopping I again went near the grave and had a close look. A car’s registration plate, ER 405, his details and a cross were fixed on the tree and some flowers were lying at the base. This was a middle aged man’s grave. I didn’t notice when the both men had died. I clicked some photos and left the spot thinking. As we sat in the car, we started discussing why do people bury their dead on the roadside? Sameer said, “Bhaji! These people may have died in road accidents and because of distance from habitations they are buried here.” I questioned, “How come Aussies can’t afford to have a decent burial for their dead in spite of Australia being so rich and civilised?” Then I joked, “Probably they loved the road too much and their relatives just buried them at their favourite place. This is also explained by the signs on their graves.” We had a good laugh and then I decided to write a piece on this incident.
In reality, Australian roads are highly safe because of strict road laws and public awareness. Although your chance of dying in a road accident in Australia is little bit higher than serving the country in the defence forces. It is also a reality that in Australia if you want a decent funeral then you need a couple of thousand dollars. Many Aussies buy funeral insurance for obvious reasons. The reasons being lack of family care, not being dependant on others even in death, not bothering your kin after death, etc. Although it is a good practice but this also shows how broken to the core this country is. I maybe wrong but having a decent funeral for some is a big challenge here and that explains the burial on the side of the road.
“May their souls rest in peace.”