Some time back we got a message on the phone that one of my distant relatives died. I attended the funeral along with my parents. I usually like to observe a lot in a funeral as it is quite peculiar place and people behave differently.
That was a small village and when I entered the funeral house there were hardly any people as we were the first to receive the message and people just started coming. I can see the last death vehicle was under construction. I watched it with keen interest as I may have to travel in that one day. The making was simple. They placed two pieces of one vertically cut bamboo in either sides. They filled in the middle space by placing small sticks in the form ofl ‘x’ touching both the vertically placed bamboos. They tied it very hard with jute thread. Then to make it flat, they spread tightly knit coconut leaves on it. That’s it. The last vehicle was ready.
When the time this was over, I could see my dad chatting with a gang of five to six people. The son and the grandson of the lady died were busy receiving the mourners and making arrangements for clearing the body.
Now they brought out the body and I had a glimpse of the full body. She should have been around her early eighties and her body shrunk so badly that anyone can lift her easily with their both hands like they lift a child while sleeping. A one rupee coin was placed on her fore head and her two toes were tied together.
Around six people, after making lots of chaos, lifted the body and placed it on the final vehicle where a single person would have done that as the body was so small. Everyone were trying to prove that they were helping and made that place so clumsy. Someone wanted to place a pillow under the head and another arguing it isnt necessary.
Finally they lifted the body and the procession was very short as the grave yard was only 200 meters away. I went along and stood in a place where I can have a nice view to observe everything. They placed the body near the recently dug pit and started doing all the rituals. Again there arouse a small pandemonium as few people had other opinions on the way rituals were followed. Finally the person with high sounding voice won the game and every one followed as per his advice. I saw the first part of sand fell over the face. It was quite strange to see sand falling on face without victim reacting to it.
Now again I saw my dad along with the same people more or less occupying same places. But now the grandson also joined the discussion. I can hear them discussing on various topics ranging from search of a servant maid, discussion on the character of the current MLA and his prospect of getting chance to contest in forthcoming elections, marriage prospects of another participant of the forum etc.
After a while my mum came out of the home. She was with the ladies sitting inside home and we were waiting outside the house under shamiyana. We decided to leave now and the grand son and son bid adieu with a smiling face.
In the same week I got another message from my mum that one our close family friends expired in the hospital on accident. He was a middle aged man having two kids one boy and a girl. My father and my mother were totally shocked.
They said he was such a nice gentle man and he helped our family in innumerable occasions.
We immediately rushed to his home. There were already big crowd and I heard the cry from quite a distance. I can see gangs of people with sad faces discussing about th mode of death in low voices. I joined one of our common family friends. They were feeling so sad and the guy started telling how good his character was. The lady mentioned that he was almost like their family member and he was the one who used to stand in front in all their family functions whether it is good or bad. She felt sad that there was no one to fill his place now. To fill in the gap, I too said that he was such a nice man to be with and I would miss a friend like him.
I had a very brief glimpse of the body which was wrapped in hospital cloth. Someone should have called the electric cremation and I can see their van arriving at the spot. Seeing this, his wife rushed out with her kids. People just held her strong to prevent her falling on the body. The kids were quite young and the guy was studying his 12th standard and the girl just finished her under graduation. Now I can hear a loud cry though I could not see their faces as the entire crowd was around them. She was saying that he let her alone and how would she settle her son and how she would get her daughter married. God should have been kind enough to let him at least until he perform all those duties. Someone tried consoling her.
Amidst her massive cry, they lifted the body till the van. In no time few people climbed the van and it disappeared.
After returning home, I had time to think a little on that.
Why people took the death of the elderly lady very light?
Why the situation was so serious in the funeral of the middle aged person?
Is that because that the elderly lady was not of any use to them, the family were so cool?
Is that because they miss all the benefits they get from middle aged man, they cried so much?
Is this world so materialistic and selfish? (including me)