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Death at a funeral

Did I hear a sigh? C,mon Sam, what is happening, looks like you find time for your blog on Independence Day and major events? Absolutely, that seems to be the case. At least that is when I think of my dear blog. Part of the blame should also go to the vacuous people and things traversing through your life to which you have to sensibly or mindlessly devote time. Absolutely, not at the cost of you devoted friends.

As for the Independence Day, no comments! It is the usual same, Red Fort, guard of honor, some rants on the colonial rule and some valorous fluffy dialogues of “great and powerful” India. The corporates, who I dislike to certain extent and who control this country today, I am sure would understand that statement better! As for those in the borderline, let us worry whether it is rasam or curd for lunch.

That aside, nothing seems to have come more painful recently as attending the funeral of a dear friend’s mom. Weddings, been plenty, but a funeral, for a long long time (may be 5 years), evaded me. I don’t go. Many reasons, but I don’t go, that is a fact. This one was unavoidable. Mustering all my courage, I embarked on that journey to attend the funeral in the lovely God’s own country, a modern cocktail example of religion, politics and atheism. On one side you have denominational wars on who should pray and conduct the last rites, the other side you have the still-I-hate-you-even-after-your-death folks amidst the sudden flow of people who never cared all the while.

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart..” You can guess the source of that quote, but really who would want to do that. A wedding is like a new life being created. It is a finite moment of delight & bliss. But why the same can’t be shared at a funeral. Why it makes you all melancholic and dejected. Fact is, despite being the most powerful, beautiful or whatever kind you are, you’ve been jeered at. You’ve been mocked, teased, shamed, crushed and humbled by that force of DEATH. It is that moment when it shouts back – whoever you are, whatever you own, to whatever extent you can go – here it ends, nothing else matters. The journey ends.

For me, everything goes blank attending a funeral. Life’s priorities, plans, dreams, yearnings, achievements, career goals, nothing seems precious enough to hold on to. To see the deared person lying before lifeless, it was fear and pain on my face. Your status quo, your personal wealth, your physical attractiveness, your precious collections is all left behind for someone’s memories, while your body fancily lies in a box of flowers with a ceremonial garb, not breathing and going to be placed on earth’s burial vault. A vault that would later be opened to welcome another lifeless body, a real stranger’s may be.

All these jolts and thunderbolt striking is momentary, talking of me at least. We never learn. We never learn the priorities of life. Life’s existence, purpose, meaning, if only lies in soliciting hate, drawing pleasure, gathering intelligence, amassing wealth, but not LOVE, to love our creator and the created, to support the cause of the needy, to stand for the oppressed and weak, we die a meaningless life to only have contributed our beautiful body to the termites beneath.

A weak human I am, a sinner to the core, I admit the fear and pain. To boast of having conquered fear would be to term myself equal to God. Often during Easter you hear the priest shout “Jesus conquered death”. As much as I believe in the physical resurrection and conquering of death, I believe in Jesus conquering the fear within that presumably could have been the crucial that we often miss. When at the face of death, we lose our hold, how big or strong we are, Jesus would mock at it, boast of going to “prepare a mansion” for his disciples. Without going too much detail into things, there is always “the Way” to living and to conquering death. A Way for hope indeed was created by that one man’s death. And since then dying is living. Death for once was audaciously questioned on “it’s victory”. Dying is end of one journey. An event to welcome new life.

It was truly a death at a funeral. Sometimes an introspection is required. To stop everything that we do, to do a reality check of our priorities, our actions, our life in itself. At the end, as your breath leaves you, you are left with no friends and foes around in that fleeting moment. You are forgotten, with everything going its way. There is always a chance in your life. A chance to make wrongs right, to learn, to unlearn and find meaning in what you do.

As the priest concluded the burial ritual reading the verse “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it”, it was all silence and the muted sound and direction of breeze. The mellow breeze hitting fresh on your face, guiding you back to the world, just hoping, for once, for once, you would change the direction of your life. Nature too has mysterious ways of describing the minuteness of life. With that my friends, it is adios from me!
A Psalm of Life (1839)
Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers, and things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not the goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul.

A Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem ~