Earlier this week, a man up the street died.
He was a well-connected banker, judging from the rows of flower-bedecked styro-foam boards given in condolence. Among the well wishers were branches of HSBC and members of the Indonesian government banking system.
A canopy tent was set up, stretching out of the family home and across the street. Java is the most populous island in the world. In the Greater Jakarta Metro area, houses sit snug against one another. Walls are shared. And ceremonies often spill into the streets.
By now, I have steered my motorbike through weddings, circumcisions, engagement parties and funerals; stopping only when hosts walk cups of sweet tea out the door to their guests who sit in fold up chairs on the other side of the street.
This ceremony though was too important for such behavior.
Police stood guard at the head of the road a full 24 hours. Lines of black cars blocked evening traffic one street over.
But by commuter hour the next day, school kids were re-pinning the funerary flower boards to spell their names. “Wiwit” and “Eko” had picked apart “Sri Tatang Purnomo MS.”
And just like that, my memory of Tatang’s funeral went from rows of black Mercedes to a name picked away in jest by children.
Traffic was flowing again.