People die. And when they do, the living cry. Death is not silent, it is not peaceful, at least not on this plane of existence. Not for the survivors. And if what many cultures believe is true and we do stick around for a bit even after we die, then you, Dead Person, are in for a hell of a grim ride. You’ll be stuck in the midst of your beloveds and you’ll watch them suffer through the seven stages of grief or whatever. And that’s not a piece of cake. Even when people try their damnedest to just shut the fuck up, there are always muffled sobs and the occasional sniffles. Because death is real and realness is defined only by the things that are experienced. And experience is formed of your senses- how cloying the air felt, how the tears tasted on your lips, how it sounded as if every cry was were being torn out of your larynx, how every silent tear seemed to trace a road of drought down the cheeks.
I went to my first funeral today. A woman died of heart attack late last night (or early in the morning). She was a very good friend of my parents’. I came to know about this in the morning when I was half-asleep and in the land of real-dreams. However, after waking up properly 5 hrs later(11 pm) I had no recollection of it whatsoever. But then my father stumbled home in the afternoon and told me. Aaand… I had no feelings whatsoever. I mean, people die- my great granpa died and I was indifferent but that may be because I didn’t know him very well. I knew that he used to give us many plastic toys when I was a kid but beyond that I had no memories. Hell, I couldn’t even recall his face. Then someone mentioned that he had a big mustache and I wa like, Oh him! But this woman I knew. I mean I had many a dinners with her and her family. I celebrated many New Years at her place as well. Actually, my parents celebrated; I sat sullenly in a corner making faces, reflecting on the injustice of the world and how could they drag me from my precious books for this? Though, sometimes I did have fun there. And I do have fond memories of her and her house. Actually all the memories I have of her feature her all lively and celebratory and just plain jolly. the only blemish in these recollections is me and my tendency to frown at all things society-related.
So upon reaching her place, I saw that so many cars were parked haphazardly outside on the road. But that was not unusual. What I couldn’t believe though was the hoard of men outside, not speaking, not smiling, looking lost and blank-faced ad some even silently crying. Next shock: their dog- for all the time I’ve known him, that dog never failed to bark or make a threatening sound whenever anyone arrived. now he was just standing and trembling in a corner and looking for all the world like a pup separated that just saw his mum ripped to pieces by the leader of the other pack for encroaching on his territory.
And inside the situation was even more grim. There she lay on a mattress covered in a blanket, while women and men and her children keened around her. I stood there in the doorway, a pace behind her son. I witnessed his struggle not to cry and I started to feel the formation of Tartarus in my stomach. It was horrible. Then my mum called me to sit beside her inside the room and I went but took a seat a couple feet from her. And the waterworks started. I heard her youngest daughter, a few years older than me, bawling and sniveling. I saw all these women I had met before on several occasions where they were all the time arranging something with the happiness that comes to some people from just having to do something, sitting around and occasionally doing something, consoling someone but now, all were carrying the weight of sadness. And all these men on the periphery, painted in my minds as always having a good spirit and playing cards and cheating and making up a snafu when caught, now trying to cover up their faces with their handkerchiefs. And each one mumbling about how it all could not be real. But what got to me the most was seeing her brother try to comfort her, while she cried in his shoulder. And the water works were loosed. First, it was just a couple of tears but then after the woman in front of me saw me crying and tried to soothe me, being as how I was the youngest person there, I just couldn’t stop myself. Every time someone asked me to get my act together, I got worse. So I stuffed myself between the dustbin and water cooler, and awhile later I calmed down enough to ask my Papa to drop me home. However, as I was walking out, I saw her husband’s face and it set off again. He wasn’t crying, he wasn’t trying not to cry, he wasn’t being soothed or soothing someone, not even his own kids; he was just sitting there blank-faced. The face you put on when you pull your head out of the tourist map, only to realize that you’ve gone completely off the gird, in the slums and homeless dwellings in a strange city. And all the way home I bawled like a baby and muttered nonsense to my uncle, who was dropping me off.
I was there for barely 45 minutes but it feels like I’ve aged years. I didn’t cry so the dead lady as for her children. Seeing them, and sometimes seeing myself in their place. Th blues choking the air, the wails piercing it and the saltiness in the air, like when you’re sunbathing or splashing in the waves of the ocean, giving us a sensation of complete cognitive dissonance.
And I learned something important: Death is real. It strikes when you least expect it. You can’t escape it like it’s Final Destination; you don’t get any memo, nor any stupid vision that allows you o skip the death roll. And it leaves behind only regret and misery, the bestest of the best buddies.