In China�s Shanxi province many aged people, after their 50 or 60 birthday, will prepare themselves a coffin where they think they would dwell in after they die. And the old people value his coffin greatly.
Coffins will be well preserved and brilliantly decorated by professional, a painter and a shaman. Meanwhile, coffins matter greatly to old man�s family, for it is thought if a coffin is of bad quality or not well conserved, the dead�s soul will be infuriated and bring bad luck to his descendants.
So influenced by this tradition, coffin is absolutely a serious stuff. Of course, a young man do not need a coffin. But sometimes, people would die young without a ready coffin. And our story begun with such a man dying young.
The guy, aged 22 and surnamed Zhao, was killed in a car accident. His death came on a fierce hot day, and in case the body decay his family wantd him to be buried as soon as possible. Then a problem arose, the dead was gone very young and no coffin was made for him. And the job of find him a coffin descended upon me and another guy, surnamed Zhu, for we were friends of the dead before his death.
Rummaging through the town and neighbouring towns, we failed to find a coffin, for the only coffin-selling shop within 50 kilometers closed, its owner entered a mountain 20 days before on vacation. And we were all disappointed when an elderly called in, saying that he can offer his coffin to us. Overwhelmed with joy, we reached his house, ignoring the fact that no people was willing to trade his coffin for money.
The coffin owner was a gentle man, generously ask a lower price for his coffin. “it is yours for 1,500 RMB.” Puzzled, I looked at my companion, and as I knew, an ordinary coffin would be worth at least 2500 RMB. It seemed that the old was eager to sell his stuff and cast a more favorable price “if you do not have enough money 1,500 RMB is ok” More confused we got, and then we feel something unsuitable, owner�s eyes avoiding meeting ours, low price. There must be something he hide from us.
There was a hush for a moment, then abruptly the owner rose up “follow me and I will show you something.” We followed him into the next room where the formidable coffin sat. Removing the coffin lid, he pointed inside and said “take a close look.” I approached carefully and found easily, there, at the bottom of the coffin, lay a piercing red Chinese character Zhu, “you friend�s name,” the owner added, “I have investigated nearby, 3 people died altogether, only your friend�s name is Zhu.”
“What do you mean?” We asked in union. The old man told us, about 3am the night before, he was awakened by sound from the room. At first he did not take it seriously, for his family was poor and only valuable possession maybe the coffin. If a thief visited he could get the coffin away, the owner even thought jokingly. But later, the coffin was rattling, louder and louder.
The old got anxious, afraid that his coffin may be ruined by rats. So putting on his clothes, the old went out standing in front of the door, inside the sound got louder and distinctive. All of a sudden, the man pushed the door open, and the sound was gone. Looking around, he found nothing missing except that the coffin lid was shoved off its original place. And the man was about to shove the lid back to its place when he found the piercing red character.
“I think your dead friend choose this coffin, no other man since your friend love my stuff, take it with you,” the man finally said. Thus we brought back the coffin, of course we paid the man a reasonable price, we were honest men and not wanting to take advantage of the poor old.
Sent in by Yumao Wu, Copyright 2011