A woman said recently that her dead husband had returned to their home reincarnated as a young cow. It behaves just like him, said Khim Hang, 74, from the Kratie province of Cambodia, without going into detail.
Sounds legit. Since cows divide their time between eating, pooping and sleeping, you can totally see they can remind people of married men.
"The young cow was born in March and has attracted a strong following on social media," Reuters reported. How depressing it is to read that even farm animals have better web skills than this columnist and his peers.
Reincarnation was on my mind after several recent references to it in the media. For example, one news story was headlined: "Pig in Australia steals 18 beers, gets drunk and fights cow". Reader Mark Agee wrote: "I never believed in reincarnation before but... Dad?"
Then a reader sent me a photo of a sign affixed to the tiger sanctuary in a zoo somewhere in India: "Only those who strongly believe in rebirth should risk going near."
On the Western side of the planet, newspapers reported the sad news that the delightful Carey Williams, author of books on reincarnation, "passed away" in the first week of March. Surely "took a break" would make more sense? Indeed, I've heard it said that tombstones of people who believe in reincarnation should not say "RIP" (Rest In Peace) but "BRB" (Be Right Back).
One of my male friends says that the existence of feminism is proof of rebirth: "Feminists are when guys get reincarnated as women." I don't know about his next life but I suspect his current one may be rather on the short side.
Now here's the curious thing. Birth rates in the West and the Far East have plummeted while they are rising in South Asia and Africa. So if a Westerner, say Donald Trump, gets reincarnated, there's a 75 per cent chance he'll be Asian or African. Hope he's cool with that. The food in Mumbai's better than Western "food", anyway.
In China, the law says that tulkus (Buddhist teachers who have lived at least one past life) must have filled in a Reincarnation Application Form and had it approved in their previous life. I am not making this up. Look up China's State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No.5 if you don't believe me.
This writer struggles to believe in reincarnation, but has lots of friends who do.
"Dying people see a light at the end of the tunnel -- that's you being born into your next life," explained the friend mentioned above.
I told him that was even more depressing! After years of toil on earth, surely you deserve at least a couple of weeks' holiday somewhere (say the heavenly version of an Ibiza nightclub) before rebirth? Life is exhausting.
Unless of course you're a pet cow, and only having to divide your time between sleeping, pooping and eating. Maybe Khim Hang's husband has got the right idea.
If one gets to choose, I would be reborn as a potato. My wife could put me on the sofa, and voila: Everything back to just how it was.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)
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