On 7th, 8th, and 9th November 3 individuals died.
One was a person who knew me for 49 of the 93 years he walked this planet.
The second one I knew for 7 years. I last saw him when I was 11 years old.
The third is someone I am told I knew but couldn’t recall. He too was someone I last saw when I was 11 years old.
There was another thing common to all three – I couldn’t attend their funeral.
The 93-year-old man was my grandfather. He was a man of stature both physical and material. In his hay days his sons trembled when he entered the house and a room generally went quiet when he entered it. When I saw him a few weeks before his death, he was skin-covering-bones. A man whose voice thundered and whose eyes blazed, was reduced to a human barely able to mumble and eyes that had lost the ability to see clearly. I am told his funeral was well attended and there were many who expressed grief at his passing. I heard some of the names and I was sad-puzzled-angry-scornful; a mass of conflicting emotions. The mourners were those who shunned him for many years. A few hadn’t even seen him let alone spoken to him in the last 5 years. And yet they were there at his funeral. I can only imagine the rituals being attended by a bunch of hypocrites, showing up to be seen; like the passing was a Page 3 event. I couldn’t help but be cynical about the parade that was put on. And I wondered for whom… The person they were mourning couldn’t care less. The world for whom the parade was put on would forget the parade and my dead grandfather in less than a heartbeat; then why this charade?
The person who died on the 8th was a former classmate of mine in Bombay Scottish School. He hadn’t seen his 50th birthday yet and his son had just left for the US. He succumbed to cancer. In the group (the bunch that went to school together), there was an outpouring of emotions. We couldn’t believe someone who grew up with us was gone. Everyone had a reason for the emotional attachment they had even though many, like me, hadn’t met with him since school. We were concerned about his family and we concerned about his children. There was a spontaneous volunteering to check on the family, to see if we could sensitively ascertain the financial situation. We wanted to help that arose from a deep sense of belonging and from a sense of loss. In all, there was genuine concern, emotion and thought.
The third person who died was also a classmate. He was also someone I hadn’t seen for many years but the added twist was I couldn’t recall his face or his name. Then a colleague posted an old picture of his and then I could see him as clear as day. He and I were in different sections and we rarely interacted but I could recognise him. And I could bond with the emotions that poured out.
I felt for the three departed souls and I felt a common sense of loss. But I couldn’t relate to the way their death played out in the real world. I wondered what was whispered about me missing my grandfather’s funeral and I hesitated to guess what was said about the grieving frauds that were present. I tried to be practical and I tried to be honest. But it is difficult to be honest in dishonest surroundings. Where the world is so adapted to seeing frauds portrayed as righteous I don’t know where I truly belong. I could see the connections with the school friends but I couldn’t see myself in a crowd of mourners faking it.
Am I cynical or actually enlightened and I wonder even more if one is a synonym of the other…
Rest in peace grandpa, rest in peace Rustom and Ajoy, I am sure you are better off where you are.