Would I? Should I? Could I? Would I be a rebel? Should I be a rebel? Could I be a rebel? If I did, was it even rebellion?
I had never been a rebel and that was partly why I was there, getting away from such things as rebellion, moving towards a quieter existence. I had only been there a couple of months – a new girl in a very old community. I was a learner in a world of tradition far from anything I had known myself in my native Yorkshire. There, in a city one could go unnoticed if one so desired. Here, in my new life, I already felt transparent, open to the good and the bad, the supportive neighbour and the gossip.
I had choices, three that I could imagine. I could not attend, which could be seen as rebellion. I could attend but be lacking which again could be interpreted as going against the rule, albeit unwritten. I could somehow attend in the accepted manner and then not be a rebel. I had a dilemma. Life was supposedly simple here but already I was faced with decision.
‘There’s been a death in the village’.
Word travelled from croft to croft (there were no phones and the Internet was still in its infancy). I was sorry to hear about my neighbour, who lived a few crofts away, but not overpowered by grief. Back in Yorkshire I may or may not have heard of the deceased a few streets away on a housing estate and, if I had, I would have been unlikely to attend a funeral of someone I hardly knew. Even if I had felt it necessary to be a mourner I would not have had this problem – to be a rebel or not.
Although a newcomer I had already learned the importance of death and funerals in this small community.
‘Would you be coming to Ishbel’s funeral?’ Questioned my closest neighbour.
I stuttered a half answer.
Would I? Should I? Could I?
If I did and took one of my first two options I ran the risk of being branded the village rebel and that discomfort, as a newcomer, I did not need. The day dawned when a decision had to be reached. I had little time to deliberate on my choices, for in this part of the world the funeral quickly follows entry into the coffin. There is realisation, announcement, a wake with wailing and then the earth welcomes - usually on day number two.
As I searched for a solution there came a knock on the door and there stood my immediate neighbour.
‘I thought you might want to borrow a hat for Ishbel’s funeral.’
Oh, the relief as I clutched the wide brimmed black hat complete with string to hang around the neck to withstand the Hebridean island wind.
I would attend in accepted uniform and would not need to be a rebel – not this time.
Tomorrow, after the funeral, I would visit the hat shop in readiness for the future.