I’d been keeping in touch with Nai while I was in Vientiane, and I found out on Thursday that one of his cousin’s had died in a work-related accident. I think I met the guy last week (Nai has so many cousins that it’s impossible to keep track of them all). He lived in the family compound just a few house away from Nai. If it’s the same fellow, he was probably in his late twenties, and he left behind a wife and baby.
A lot of the adult men around here work on the Mekong, where they are dredging gravel from the river bed to use in making concrete. Scores of dump trucks full of the rock travel daily along the dirt road that runs through Nai’s village. The road used to be paved, but it’s been torn up for a few years because of the trucks. It’s now cratered with small pot holes and ruts, and it’s terrible for traveling. The heavy vehicles stir up a lot of dust early in the day, but later, when they’re hauling rocks from the river, the water seeps out and eventually drenches the road. That keeps the dust down, but it gets rather muddy.
Apparently the accident victim was working around the dredging machines when something went wrong. Nai couldn’t give me too many details with his limited English vocabulary, so I don’t know what actually happened. I’m sure there will be no government or company support for his grieving wife, but the rest of the family will take care of her and the baby.
Unlike in the United States where people will bring food to a family who’s lost a loved one, in Laos the family is expected to provide food for all the people who come to pay their respects. The past few days Nai has been to his cousin’s house cooking food for hours for all the mourners. However, the people who visit the house will also leave some money for the widow and that usually covers the cost of the food.
There will still be a lot of people today who come to pay their respects, and the funeral will probably be Sunday or Monday. I’ve never been to a Buddhist funeral, so perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to view one, albeit under tragic circumstances.