Chung chung chung:

Outside the house a shrine had been made from stout bamboo in an inverted pyramid to hold the head of the buffalo. It's last moments recorded in wide-open eyes and rolled back lip. Long lengths of rattan sprang from the centre of the structure, which hung low with woven decorations. It held me in a macabre fascination.

Beneath the shrine a small family group ate with their heads sheltered by a cloth. Their hands moved quickly and they looked around furtively; there was an animalistic nature about their actions that frightened me.

In a low structure in the yard the buffalo carcass was being butchered. A small group of men were chopping away at the meat transforming it into mince. Alongside them was the party fuel in a line of rice wine jars. Looking at the red faces I assumed that it was already flowing and I wondered how many fingers might end up in the dishes. The blood was driving the village dogs mad and vicious fights started over scraps. It was turning into a vegetarian's nightmare.

A line of ceremonial gongs strung from a beam was readied and then in time to the rhythm of the chopping knives they were played in a deep hypnotic harmony. Chung chung chung - Chung chung chung, the harmonics vibrated in my head and disturbed me. A man with entrails wrapped on a stick pushed passed me and grinned a toothless grin. It was 'Apocalypse Now' stuff and I'd had enough. I was a voyeur on something I didn't understand and it felt wrong to be there.

 

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