27 March 2011

Of weddings and funerals

There was death in my family a few days ago. My grandmother, who suffered from a weakened heart condition and multiple other ailments, succumbed in the early hours of rang panchami day. She was to celebrate her 75th birthday on Apr 5. She suffered much in her life, but achieved a lot too. May her soul rest in peace.

Weddings and funerals are the time when families - immediate and extended- come together for a common cause. While I've attended many weddings, this was the first death(and funeral) I have experienced. Understandably then, it has left an impact.

Grief and regret are the most common emotions when faced with a death. Regret is usually in the form of 'if only I'd met / called her yesterday'. Or 'if only we hadn't fought the last time we talked'. Grief is a powerful emotion that takes even the strongest ones by surprise. Actually, its a bit confusing - those who you think are the 'strongest' are totally devastated by grief and others whom you regarded as 'weak' astound you by their stoicism and composure.

When a family is large and spread across various cities, it is a challenge to get everyone together for giving a final farewell to the departed. Someone has to take charge of the practicalities such as mode of funeral. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the departed soul really wished to be done after his/her death. It is further colored by their own preferences and beliefs.

The sheer physical effort involved on the part of family members - especially the one who performs the funeral rites, was a revelation. My perception was probably due to what is seen in movies where one usually sees the male protagonist lighting the pyre with a flaming torch and then spreading the ashes in a flowing river. This perception too was laid to rest as I saw my dear father (eldest son-in-law of my late grandma) perform all the rites without a murmur of complaint.

The best part of both weddings and funerals is that everyone comes through for each other in their hour of happiness or grief -be it neighbours, friends, family and extended relatives. It is at times like these that the true nature of people is revealed. There were some who could not help stealing a glance at the cricket score even during the funeral. And then there were those who traveled across the country to be in time for the funeral. As they say, it takes all kinds.

2 comments:

Veena said...

Oh !

i know how important was your granny for all of you .. May her soul rest in peace.. ! I can understand how much you guys will miss her.. !

Shruti said...

Dear Nilu, Sorry to hear about your nani's death. I remember it wasn't a straightforward relationship. Your description was interesting and reminded me especially of one of L M Montgomery's books though her's was far more cynical.