Yesterday was just another day for me (except for the fact that I had 2 university practicals … it was dismal). As usual I came home from college. What welcomed me was the news of sudden demise of one of my mom’s colleagues. Now this particular woman (Lets call her Ms. X for the sake of convenience) she wasn’t exactly the apple of anybody’s eye. She was unmarried & cranky and was living with her unmarried & equally cranky aunt. She was a professor in English, had been just promoted as the Principal, had a complex about being single & had an additional chip on the shoulder about being a Brahmin. On the whole, she was everyone’s idea of a superlative nightmare. Now you might understand why not many people adored her. Hell who am I kidding?? People actually hated the ground she walked on.
My mom loved her. Coming to think about it, she did get pissed off when Ms.X calls her up at 10.00 pm and ask her to value 150 papers for the next morning or when Ms.X calls her at 8.00 am in the morning and chat for 1 hour about which newspaper to subscribe to, when my sister, me, my dad and mom herself were all scurrying to get on with their day. But still, my mom liked her a lot, maybe because they had been working together for about 10 years. And as strange as it may sound, I kinda liked her too. She was always sweet to me, had nice things to say to me and had this ability to be extremely nice to me just before ticking off my mom on phone (which naturally was a sufficient reason for me to have a grudge against her.)
When she died (yuck… that’s so lame isn’t it?? I can’t really get used to the fact that she isn’t gonna call me anymore and say stuff like “Navmi, amma ende cell edukkatte?? Aren’t u studying well huh??..” and so on), I went with my mom for her funeral, primarily because my mother was pretty close to hysterics and I was actually worried about how she was gonna be affected by this (I know… that was very selfish of me) As a rule I try to avoid visiting the funerals, simply because I tend to get very very deeply affected by them. It’s basically a very depressing and emotionally draining experience.
Ms. X’s funeral was very… hmm… I can’t really express it in words. Yes, it was definitely very different… to an extent that it was actually disturbing. First thing I noticed was that not a single person was crying. There were no tears shed for the departed soul. Her uncle was sitting in one corner, settling the hospital bills and paying for the ambulance and all. There were no women, not a single one of them. The only onlookers were her colleagues, whose life she had made a living hell. They were the only people who had come to say goodbye to her, and I’m glad to say that all of them had something good to say about her. She was all decked up in pattu sari and mulla povu (a Brahmin ritual I guess) when her aunt (whom she lived with and was said to be very ill, in fact so ill that she couldn’t even go to the hospital to say goodbye when her “beloved” niece was dying) turned up and started muttering in Tamil. One of her first questions were “Where is her 1 ½ pavan gold bangle & her diamond earrings??” Needless to say I disliked that woman then and there. She went on muttering something about how many saris Ms.X had and how others used to haunt Ms.X and on and on. (In Tamil) Honestly there were times when all I wanted was to shake her and scream “It’s your niece lying there for God’s sake.” The only people crying were my mom and a few of her colleagues. (I can never squeeze out tears at these much needed moments. I can only cry if my sister broke my pencil or if I lost my 5th standard group photograph. Pathetic… I know) Then she was cremated and everyone went home. Life goes on….
What bothered me a lot (other than the detached nature of everyone associated with her) was something the Brahmin priest said. Since one of Ms. X’s elder uncle was in Thiruvanathapuram, the family had dual opinions about who should do the final rites, the uncle in Thrissur or the one in Tvm. When they consulted the priest, his words were “It makes no difference whether the rites are performed by the elder or younger uncle. This woman can NEVER achieve moksha (in other words she can never go to heaven)” The reason…??? Apparently only those people who has had children – to elaborate, people with a son – only such people’s soul will go to Heaven. Now isn’t that fab??
At least now I can be sure where my mom & dad were NOT heading.
Luv & a tinge of despair
PS: I have a sister.
To beloved Ms. X whom I sometimes found difficult to understand and love, may your soul rest in peace. Thank you for appreciating me even when I was fat and idiotic and for making me feel so beautiful and special whenever we met. For all u said and for all that you didn’t, I respect you. God bless you. RIP