The Unavoidable Eventuality

 

Two sides of the same coin, yet birth and death triggers a
set of strong emotional quest in lot of minds. Some see death as end of an era,
some passing of the baton, while to some its just one of the myriads of
incidents that for the part of ones life. Which means there is thin chance that
the way someone’s death affects my life and thinking is going to be the case
when I am the person to die. Death is an unavoidable eventuality, but its
resultant reactions are not. It is not necessary that there will be same
reactions that are unfolding now, will be re-enacted when the eventuality
knocks my door.

 

Single child of pre-independence era, a persona living the
life to its hilt, a character that could have fit any famous adventures fiction
series, ending in the nervous nineties. A life that has seen, life as a banker,
as well as a press journalist; a life that has enjoyed the life behind an
accountant’s desk, and seen it through the motion photography lenses of  New Theaters Studio; it was a life that
connected to so many during its 94 year tenure and then gasped to hold on to a
handful.

 

Sitting on that mortuary van, passing through the busy
Kolkata streets, my eyes kept brushing on the faces of the onlookers. A lot of
them actually noticed the van carrying the body, and responded with the
single-handed “pranam”. It might be the social conditioning, or may be the
inherent quality of the local mass, but there were still quite a few who
acknowledged. I could very well recall similar scene on the streets of Delhi
and Bangalore. The van will go practically unnoticed in the busy streets; if it
is accompanied by a procession, some might have had noticed, which would have
also included those who would have felt disturbed by the obstruction to traffic
it caused. The noisy and elaborate procession would not let the people around
go it un-noticed in Bangalore, but rarely I have seen any one responding it
with respect. Multicultural society? Or is it again the inherent social
conditioning?

 

A bunch of guys in their early twenties would happily gather
around a man in his late seventies, just to get engrossed in his words that
captured just a few weeks of his life. The weeks on which he managed to reach
Manas Sarovar on his feet, without food, and being offered goat’s milk by the
‘pujari’; or the week when he along with his four friends dared to cross
numbers of pre-independence princely states, braving dacoits, wild dogs and
state armies to reach Bombay from Allahabad – on bicycles. The umpteen stories
– or should we say real life accounts, just showed all of us, how ordinary a
life can be.

 

Lying there on slabs of ice in his room’s floor, he was
waiting for a few people to arrive. A few people who thought actually matters
to him; some managed to reach, others managed to find reasons, “not to reach”.
A body that once challenged the “gwala’s” of Benares, in their own game of
wrestling, to learn it in a month and win, lying listless. While removing his
deathbed clothes and putting on one of his silken kurta and dhoti, the voice of
his lady echoed in the mind. He used to wear clothes tailored in England, and
perfumes from Paris. The only perfumes that were accompanying him in his last
journey were a small bottle of sandalwood essence, and a half filled bottle of
Park Avenue lovingly being sprayed by his surviving son. And something broke
loose – the streams locked behind iron safe kept flowing, noiselessly.

 

The same guy in his early seventies, used to laugh at his
peers wearing jackets on top of the pullovers with a monkey cap covering their
head from weak Kolkata winter; while he used to cover all of 4 kilometers daily
in his half sleeve sweater with the hands clasped behind his back. He would
come back with a packet of “telebhaja” or “singara”, to share with his
grandchildren and occasionally the friends of his grandchildren too, over the
stories of how he killed the tiger sitting beside the maharaja of Ramnagar, or
how he managed to take the pictures of Queen Victoria on her maiden visit to
India.

 

Was looking at the body on the glass enclosure of the van
ready to speed off. The person lying inside have been witness to many such
scene, couple of them too close for anyone’s comfort, yet never saw to shed a
drop. The scene of his own son, nearly 30 years younger, lying in there – or
the lady 10 years younger, who chose to spend her life beside him, ready for a
final journey, he saw both. And amazingly he chose the same day, his partner
chose to depart, 10 years ago – is that coincidence? Or is the strength of
love?

 

Will it be similar, 20 – 25 years from now? Will there be
even these many people? Will even these many eyes be wet then? Will so many
people be aware of the event? Will there still be some not related people
joining in the cemetery to recall a life? Will there still be some passerby’s
moving their busy heads to watch a body being taken on his last journey? Lots
of doubts, some evident and obvious, some foreseen as circumstantial and
situational, while some showing a future with a chill down the spine. A day
that is nothing but an unavoidable eventuality, but I am sure the resultant
reactions will be much much more different… may be milder or even obscure!

 

 

2 responses to “The Unavoidable Eventuality

  1. have u deleted some of ur blogs? 

  2. Great writing.
    It is like a melody, the tune is reciprocating after the end.
     
    Cheers
     
    Tridib 

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