Visiting the tomb of erstwhile love

It was a damp night, mind you damp and not wet. Chennai’s weather of late has been blowing hot and cold; with almost hot afternoons packed in humid sweat and reluctant drizzles well shy of being holistic downpours in the nights. So it was one of those nights and I was coming from a night show, to find my bike seat gently kissed by several raindrops, that had deceived the sky’s vigil. One of the primary cons of riding a bike during such times is, you can’t wear your lighter trousers. One, the raindrops leave an impression, not a good one- a wet smudge on the sitting area. And two, even if you vigilantly wipe your way off the previous possibility to preserve tushy dignity, there’s no way you can go unscathed, as the several puddles and inconsiderate vehicles on the way would somehow come together to leave a graffiti on the trousers.
Anyways I was wearing a pair of black trousers that night and it held very little consequence to the other happening of the night, primarily about which this piece is .This one’s about the route I took on my way back and the the trip it took me down the memory lane.

While coming back from the theatre, there are two routes to my place. One that goes through a residential  area and the other one that comes a little ahead, connecting me to the main road.  Over the last few years I’ve consciously and later subconsciously been ignoring the former stretch to take the latter. Initially, it felt like a can filled with worms, waiting to be opened up. Worms waiting to feed on my peace of mind. Then with efflux of time, I had grown oblivious and numb to this stretch’s magnetic negativity. It had come to only be a detour and the route that led to the main road had become an obvious choice.
But today was different, I was itching to take the former route. Not to confront the can of worms, but to take stock of my quality of peace. Curiosity had the better of me and there I was in the stretch I had forbidden as a sort of reality check. This trip was straddling between literal and figurative, for so much in my life had transpired in this L shaped stretch, the gravitas of which was getting to me as I was rumbling through it, metre by metre.

A few hundred metres into this road- painted in shadows of the trees behind -came this compound wall on the left. There was nothing fancy about it, just another neglected-marshy structure raised to mark the periphery of the house. But to me, it marked a new beginning. Back then it was always enveloped from the road by a fleet of school vans parked in front of it. It was our second date, I had just kissed her for the first time inside a deserted Mcrennett a little ahead on the corner of the road. She was pink with amusement and I was a cat, who had had his first taste of meat. We soon left hand-in-hand to take a stroll, incidentally my first walk with someone from the fairer sex. She was a bundle of nerves, obviously given that her folks stayed not far away from there and she was walking with a person who had just earmarked her left cheek with his saliva. Fairly educated on each other’s favourites, we had run out of topics and were in a mood for something non-verbal. The secluded compound wall on the right, stood there with anticipation and we got the cue. I lifted and perched her on it facing me, as I placed my hands on either side of her on the wall. Before we realised, I was kissing all over her face like a caveman, rocking back and forth like doing push-ups in a near state of trance. Together we had debased base one here.

As I drove ahead, came the Mcrennett I had mentioned a little earlier on the corner of the road. Apart from being the unwilling witness and stage to our first sacrilege, it had seen a lot of us. It used to be a favourite hangout, for it didn’t pinch on my wallet hard and it served the best cheese puff known to humanity. We’ve spoken about movies, debated about choice of careers, stolen kisses when no one’s around and have even gone for each other’s necks when arguments turned futile.

We were sparrows constructing nests on unnoticed loft corners of houses with little information to its owners, raising our own little monuments in common places of others surreptitiously.

As I turned right came this place, preceded by a newly fitted majestic metal gate. Back then, there used to be no gate. It was just a long winding driveway that led to a nursery school. We fondly called it “nursery”. Only both of us knew what nursery meant, when among a group of friends. So why were two grown-ups frequenting a nursery? This under lit place became uninhabited in the evening and the unregulated driveway that preceded the nursery, with tall trees on either side, became a tantalising prospect for long walks and the accoutrements that ensued.

Here, we became night creatures that made merry after sunset. Unlike the owls, we couldn’t see too well, but we didn’t complain. We could feel and listen to each other like  in no other place with heightened awareness- finding rhythm in our heartbeats, warmth in our touches, wetness in our lips and dexterity in the fingers to render clothes vestigial. This is where we caught up every time before being away for a while and this is where we came together after being away for a while. This was our ersatz room, before we got a real one.

A few second later came this stretch inundated by tall walls that belonged in fortresses, baring faces of the neighbourhood politician and not so subtle slogans in fluorescent font. I could see a younger me going for the wall, as I discharged my bladder’s content in a blissful fountain. She used to be seated on the bike behind, embarrassed about my uncouth way of answering the nature’s call. As I got on the bike, proud and relieved, my comeuppance would come as she twisted my ear till I twirled along with it in tandem.

I pulled over my bike to take a leak. I was all alone by myself, with no one waiting behind to play mother as I sat to ride.

The L of the stretch was coming to an end as the subway in the end was becoming visible. She used to come out of this from the other side of the road, as I restlessly waited near it. I would check myself on the bike’s mirror a hundred times and would strike the best pose on , as she would pop out of the subway onto my bike in a hurry, to employ the harness on me. After dropping her back late in the evening, I would wait by it till she surfaced from the other side of the subway in one piece.In short, our days were bookbounded by this subway.

Over a decision, things that were very life itself had turned into distant memories I could only live vicariously. I  could revisit them, without craving to recreate. This stretch was like a black box that survived a crash. The drive was like going back to the place of accident after recovering- as a healed person – grateful about the second chance, stronger and peaceful. If I’ve learnt one thing over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as good or bad in life as every experience culminates systematically in a memory. Good and bad are transitory, a mere reflection of the state of the mind from the time of impact.

The L had come to an end. And it felt like a place I was leaving place from, not one I was coming into.As I turned left to climb the flyover, I felt like Superman  emerging out of Krypton stronger than before. Life was one fear short.

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Price of privacy in an average Indian household

It’s pretty much like the conundrum of whether the chicken came first or the egg; the influence of movies on the society and the society’s influence on movies.It was in the mid nineties when, Sooraj Barjatya in the north and Vikraman in the south, spearheaded the renaissance of placing family before individual, making a virtue out of it. In the process killing privacy as a collateral necessity, making a vice out of it.You’ll see families in these movie walk in horizontal human chains- members on left and right extremes spilling out of every frame -even to modest places like blood donation camps, invading each other’s bed rooms spreading cutesy and going on picnics together. In this ecosystem, family was no mere crowd, but therapeutic. These movies talked about the trauma of being alone, establishing solitude as a comeuppance should someone dare stray to the other side, in the name of self discovery or love.

If you’re someone who had been raised on a firm diet of Tamil movies in the nineties, chances of having missed this spectacle called Suryavamsam are bleak. For the uninitiated it is one of the several evolutionary-anomaly Sarathkumar movies in which grandfather,father and son all look the same and get played by him. In a pivotal scene in the movie, the son’s kicked out of his house with his share of wealth for daring to get married to the love of his life. Notwithstanding the condescending nature of his overbearing dad, he somehow doesn’t part with the wealth to a farther haven.Because, it is hard after all, for an illiterate man pushing forty to choose between his hateful dad who acknowledges his existence while buying anti-fit khadicraft shirts on birthdays alone on one side and a prosperous life with a loved one on the other. His rather prosperous stay apart from his colony sized family is made to look like a stint at Shawshank prison  throughout the movie’s running time.

The thing about these movies is that the individual always put himself, his love, aspirations behind his family’s and dissolved in its well being.

The resounding success of these kind of conservative- and regressive -family films reiterated the moral code of most families across the board. The elders identified with what was sold off as non negotiable virtues and the youngsters were naive to believe idiosyncrasies to be traditions. These were strictly above-the-belt movies that would sermonize on vanilla values that were digestible, inoffensive and non-debatable. Even when it came to couples, they never went beyond the tropes of innocent stalking, crass duets, wedding ceremony and the coy first night sequence when the shy camera would pan up at the prospect of below the belt activity about to ensue, once the couple were done establishing chemistry over cold milk and ghee sweets. This systematic attitude to over preach sentiments as values and push icky topics below the carpet has systematically percolated from one generation to another to create elders who didn’t respect the post puberty phase of a grown up. For instance If a teenager’s found whispering on landline, the immediate parental instinct would be to launch into stealth mode. Pick the extension from another room and eavesdrop; for it might be a member from the opposite sex. Obviously the nefarious act has to be stopped. For you can’t afford to be friends with him and joke about his flirting skills, right. It doesn’t fall under the Suryavamsam family code.

Another dreaded recurring occurrence in most Indian households must be the Sunday morning special visits. That’s when an out of town relative would pop unannounced into our life like a pimple. But that or their amusingly large breakfast appetite wouldn’t even form the primary concern. Like a frog run over by a lorry, we would peacefully be sleeping in the safe confines of our bedroom in an awkward position when mom would come to wake us up to say, “hello”. Even before your brain can begin to process, a lecture about how showing courtesy to a guest is more important than precious life would begin. This would go on for several minutes. And it would only be a matter of time before her persistence would take the form of a loud scream, promise of a bad lunch or the most dangerous face expression before emotional blackmail. That’s the time when you would know that you’ve got no way out. Your eyes would detest. Your entire body would resent. But you’ll somehow drag yourself to only say that dreadful, “hello” and go back to bed in the hope of better karma.And just when you thought that the misery would be over with the thirty painful seconds, the relative incapable of understanding body language or silent “fuck offs”, would endeavor to stretch your tenure with one sensitive question after another. By the time he/ she gets done with you, you would start hearing the liver churning bile from within.

The sudden invasion of a dad or uncle into bedroom while generating handmade pleasure is one of the most disturbing things to happen to an average Indian teenager. What’s more disturbing than the ocular exchange between the two, would be the awkward silence that follows, as he contemplates euthanizing and the elder behaves like having walked into a satanic mating ritual. The sexual curiosity of the youth, his coming to terms with his own body that’s looking different with each passing day and his sudden mooning over girls his age is something the average Indian  elder diligently pushes under the carpet, courtesy the  Suryavamsam family code.

We in this part of the world never really acknowledge the importance of an individual’s identity. His coming of age, his love, lust, failures, successes and how they shape him as a person. His dreams, aspiration, yearning to create a legacy of his own. His alone time. His spiritual growth. Notwithstanding all this, all that matters is that he has to be married at a certain age. And she has to be married as well by a certain age that often comes a few years before. The dreams can wait, goals can and aspirations…stop joking..are certainly not as important as creating a family at the right time.

Most elders operate with the sole purpose of getting an individual deeper and deeper into the institution of family, drifting him further and further away from himself. Not every flower needs to get into a bouquet, some can look beautiful by themselves. An individual’s privacy has to be respected. His personal space has to be acknowledged after a certain age. And more importantly his values have to be let the place to fashion themselves into something independent, not necessarily agreeable.

 

Ghosts of mobile phones past

It was a dingy place that found its odor in a spot between molten iron and plastic lava. The ground was punctuated by systematic crevices, each leading to an endless abyss beneath. This had everything that went on to make the perfect hell, no wonder it was in fact one.  Well almost. It was the lobby, from where the deceased got demarcated, before being taken to hell ahead or heaven above.
Amidst the chaos, there walked in this guy to bulge the sea of heads by one person. He seemed wet, from head to toe like someone had gargled him out. The small, but prominent marking on his rear end caught the attention of another individual— with a sharp cut that ran across his entire body —who bore a similar marking. Glances were exchanged amongst them, before he gesticulated to the new guy- “Skip the queue, come here.

If the hell’s lobby was a morbid cake, this motley bunch of broken individuals was the icing on top. They displayed between them every anatomical casualty fathomable- some were headless; some deaf; some had deep cracks running across their solar plexis and the recent addition seemed to be stewed in dampness. Different from each other, they were unique works of art in carnage. But these two, though born to different parents,  were there because of a single destructive individual, who’s initials got them together- AT.

I was his first…err…first this month. He seemed pretty nice in the beginning. And just when I was starting to feel special, his butter fingers took over.
Yeah, the butter fingers!“, the wet guy coughed in unison.
He constantly keeps dropping us, like a bad habit. And should his homicidal streak continue at this rate, soon there will be a colony here, named after him.

Anyways, where was I?”
“Butter fingers.”

Haa…butter fingers. I’d unlike many other misfortunate brothers of mine managed to come unscathed through every onslaught, till his trouser zip screwed with me.
Trouser zip?!
Yup. you’ve seen freak deaths doled out in final destination movies right, mine was like that, just a tad miniscular in scale and vision.
We were at work, a few minutes from his presentation when he decided to take a leak. All was hunky dory, till then. I was already starting to feel like the last survivor in those serial killer movies, when he took me in his mouth, like a dog holding a bone, while he continued emptying his bladder. In a fatal flip of a second, he zipped along his “little guy” with his trouser and ouch…his teeth pierced through my upper body. And like that I was rendered lifeless, thanks to a fucking zip!”
Ouch. that explains the torn solar plexus. Caught between the lip and the zip.
Very funny. Now tell me how you ended up like a wet sock?

“Hmmm..”, like that damp guy’s excitment left him like a silent fart.
I was cherry picked. And I guess it was the guilt from his previous kills or probably simple prudence, but he actually took very good care of me. He was always around and to be honest, despite his reutation, I kind of started to feel secure around him. And then..

Yeah the then has to come. Then what?

The butter fingers phase began. All the maternal warmth from the previous days of nurturing had paved way for coldness of anxiety. And one fine night, he had to take a leak.

Wow. Same pinch. Same place.“, the broken guy was giggling till the cracks on him contracted in tandem.

Yup.Same place.Same guy.Different modus operandi. He seemed excited, he was talking to someone that made his face pink. Probably his girlfriend, when he accidentally dropped me into the commode. And I suffocated to my last breath.“, a tear rolled down the cheek of the damp guy.

Brother. I don’t understand how he doesn’t fall often.”
“And all that love for animals, my ass!
“This place can’t be hell, if it keep us far away from his reach.”
Yup, god bless his new victim.
Redmi 4, right?!
Yup.

Ashwath get up, it’s nine in the morning.“, mom screamed.
I accidentally pushed down my new phone, with my stretched right hand in an endeavor to wake up.
Thud, it fell.
Dey…it’s your third phone in two months. If they have a mouth, they’ll cry.
I think my Motorola and ASUS were in fact crying to each other, before you woke me ma.
Butter fingered. And now delusional.God save my son.And the innocent phones from him.”

 

Teacher’s Day nostalgia

I’m three quarters short of stepping into the third decade in my life. My head is nothing but a cluttered space of learnings, lessons, predispositions, likes and stronger dislikes, tastes, preferences, habits and endless nostalgia. It wasn’t this way all the time. There was a time, when all it registered was the music of lullaby. It was a clean slate when I took my first baby step into PSBB, my first school.

My world was a place full of nameless objects without a curiosity to count and comfortable gibberish, before names and language dawned upon as necessary friction. It’s here I learnt to name call— for a syllabus —animate and inanimate things alphabetically. This is where my naive fingers became a counting apparatus, before algebra and logarithm came to break the cherry of numerical goodness.
Each little miscreant that steps into school is like a sown seed. Some turn out to be flower giving; some fruit bearing and others mere show pieces. But all of them, irrespective of their origin and purpose, need the dampness of soil and the warmth of the sun to become what they’re meant to be. Once they grow, so do their needs. While some grow up to be creepers, needing a scaffold to twirl around, some flourish autonomously with the occasional pruning on the rough edges. The garden metaphors- the soil, sunlight, scaffolding and the gardener are the teachers and mentors who curate the seed in each individual, till the blossom of self sustenance.

I’ve had many such wonderful teachers in my life. Some taught me maths; some accounts; some English; some science and some life itself. I remember one such person, my accounts sir- Mr.Devakumar. A stiff man in his late fifties, there was nothing conventional nor congenial about him. An air of mockery preceded him among the students. When the norm was for students to itch for a period to end, here was a man who had turned the cliche over its head. It could be a critical part of a crucial problem he would be solving on the board or a conversation he would be having with us, all it took was the ring of the school bell to bring him to a stand still. On the sound of it, the chalk would drop,mid air and the verbal exchange would halt mid syllable. You could pay him a crore, but you just couldn’t stop the man from evaporating  out of the class. We laughed at this demeanor. The nonchalant style of teaching accounts, where he would just teach the basics and expect everyone to figure things on their own. At least that’s what I thought. We would receive his assistance, but only when he saw desperation.

By the time I passed out of school I had become acquainted to the rhythm of debits and credits like a million other unimaginative dunces before me. But I had, that they didn’t was the street smartness I had picked from Devakumar in problem solving, inside and outside of books. This lighthearted approach to every situation in life.

And just like that this irreverent man who was supposed to teach me accounts had instead taught me to live life, I really don’t know, how much of this was intended by him, but the lessons from this phase of my life had left an indelible impression in my subconscious.  In a nation, that waits for an instance, any instance to worship certain designations; it is sometimes important to remember and respect the simple individuals behind these designations.

Ambushes in the name of wedding invitation

“Wake up, your friend’s come.“, mom yelled.

It was a blissfully sleepy Sunday afternoon. At that hour even God comes second to sleep. A true friend doesn’t show up as a mark of friendship. An enthusiastic acquaintance from school days isn’t even supposed to be there. Yet there he was, immune to common courtesy. I wanted to train my rottweilers on him. Too bad they seized to exist outside my imagination.

Grumpily I snuggled out of the warm confines of my bedsheet. I checked the phone and there were two missed calls from him. So my right cheek didn’t develop a sudden ability to vibrate in the dream after all.

“Tell him, I’m not home.”
“Too late, I’ve already told him that you’re. He’s waiting in the hall.”, my mom walked out, switching off the fan.

My mother was unleashing this rude social experiment at me on a Sunday afternoon. So long to maternal promises of unconditional love.

After adjusting my hair, I reluctantly walked into the hall to see the perpetrator gleaming on my sofa. He had more gold apparels on him, than Xerxes from 300. On a casual weekend, he could be a bullion reserve to a third world country.

“Hi. I was asleep.”
“Ya da, your mom told me.”
Yet you’re here without a glimmer of discomfort.

“I called and you didn’t pick. So I just came.”
Wow. Decent people check if someone’s at home, before blessing them with their presence, asshole!
“That’s….sweet.But you could’ve just given me a call and I’d come to the wedding.”

“I wanted to see your parents and give my wedding invitation.”

Not see, ambush. And dude, the last we hung together, my balls were bald. And as special as you think our relation is, we’re not friends. As for my parents, they acknowledge the existence of the lizard on the wall above, better than yours,

He gave me what was supposed to be his invitation from a thick stack. It embodied everything that was him-his overall colorfulness,his sledgehammer subtlety and the obscene opulence. Had it been any more embellished, I could’ve pawned it for a home loan.

“Would you like some rosemilk kanna?”, mom interrupted our tête-à-tête with her host hat on.
Before I could turn that offer down on his behalf, he nodded willingly.
Maaaaaaa. Your rosemilk means ten more painful minutes with this prick from a scarred childhood, who doesn’t get the fuck-off on the forehead.

“So when are you getting married?”
“Not anytime soon da.”
“Then you’ll get married after thirty is it?”
Dude you’re really pushing it now. Not only are you overstaying an ungiven welcome, but stepping into unchartered territory to cover rosemilk leadtime.

“Why man. Do men hit menopause at that age?”
“No…..but it’s just”
“I’ve got a few things to do. So not anytime soon.”

The hall was loud with the awkward silence between us. And in a coordinated roll of the eyes I took a glance at the almost empty rosemilk glass and the clock. And voila….he finally got it and got up. God is omnipotent.

“Ok da. I’m starting. I’ve got a few more places to be.Come without fail okay.”
Atleast don’t surprise them.
“Even if meteors are falling, I’ll make it da.”

I opened the door for him and my resistance had finally paid off with his hard earned exit. I felt the relief that generally comes with a good dump after hours of constipation.

“Accompany him to his car and send him off properly”, mom mumbled while picking the tray.
“I don’t do that even for a friend. And definitely not for him. Maybe I can go to his car to ensure he doesn’t come back.”
“I think I’ve brought you up badly.”
“I can’t change that now, but my brand of courtesy ends at the door.”

Another disagreement on the count of courtesy with mom. No food and beverages at home for the next few days.But the threat of his visit had stop looming over my life.I had weathered the storm. Now I can go back to the heart of sweet sleep and try to undo the longest twenty minutes of my life, that I was never getting back. And also hide the rosemilk syrup from my mother.

 

The first time I met Kamal Haasan

 

All of us have a set of things to do and words to be spoken should we accidentally bump into God or a favorite personality, to make the most of the time without remaining awestruck for too long. I’ve always thought about how I would shake hands with Kamal with a firm grip without grabbing them, the first time I meet him in blood and flesh. He’s been my God cum favourite personality since the first time I stepped into the dark of a theatre playing Aboorva Sagotharagal. Ever since, his steep sand paper voice has changed in its meaning in my life from being just a lullaby to the very sound of my conscience. He’s the matinee idol, I’ve over the years come to subconsciously imitate in my articulation and gesticulation out of affection and some kind of entitlement. So I should’ve ideally genuflected at the sight of him, like a minion at the first sight of a mountain.

But coming to think, what I actually did when I met him for the first time was a lot different than just reverential. Funny in fact. But weird most certainly. So he was the chief guest for my school culturals that year, 2005 I suppose. With a moustache that only looked thick next to a girl my age, a mushroom cut for a hair statement and trouser worn just an inch below the chest, I was in the eleventh grade and looked every bit a junior artist from a tacky B grade.

To leave a startling first impression on Thalaivar, I had left no stone unturned. I would’ve done a fifty more push ups that day than usual to look firmer in my uniform, shampooed my hair to a bouncy extent and wore a neck piece that— coming to think of now — made my sexual orientation questionable. I didn’t know how my chest being firmer or my bouncy hair smelling fruity was going to make his trip to my school any more special. But at sixteen you’re allowed your share of screw ups at trying to impress.

Anyways I was there since morning by the doors of the auditorium. Sadly I wasn’t a volunteer. Had I been one, I could’ve been a part of the entourage to take him to the dais. Luckier, could’ve stood next to him for the whole time. But wretched me wasn’t. So I had to do the next best thing to get the front row seat to the shindig.

I’d heard before that Kamal was a chronic late comer to events. I didn’t take it seriously till his car appeared outside the venue, three hours past the scheduled time. People from outside were trying to percolate into the hall, which already— with crowd ballooned inside beyond it’s capacity — was a couple of members away from a stampede. Evergreen tracks from his movies were inundating the air, which by then seemed to transmit electricity from the collective palpable excitement of wolf whistling teenagers. As soon as he walked through those doors, all hells broke loose as the roof came down with the raucous. Sporting a black V-neck half sleeve shirt with a pair of black chinos, he was every bit the debonair presence that had captured the imagination of more than a generation from the silver screen.

At the aisle of a row, I was still a several seconds away from him. He was sauntering in my direction. The seconds in my time frame became slower than minutes, as my demigod was about to cross my path. As I was taking in every bit of the moment, I was ruminating the things to do when I would be parallel to him.
Should I ambush his trajectory for a shake hand or an awkward hug? It felt a little too outrageous for my sensibility. And not only that, it would’ve drawn a lot of attention, which makes me uncomfortably nervous. Maybe I should just wave at him. But that would be too generic an expression of my unconditional love for him.
The window for decision had closed as he was a row away.

I’m going to leave a mark on him, like the way he did on me.

Before my brain could process that course of action, the index finger in my right hand had already began to act. In one quick motion, I swiftly scratched his ample forearm with my nail as he went past me. It took a moment for him to realise that he’d been scratched, by then he was a row before cursing the charlatan who’d done that. I didn’t know what I was thinking, thankfully the deafening crowd around, kept me invisible.

I did manage to leave a mark on him!

Every time I reminisce this anecdote, I can’t get myself to stop laughing. What a stupid seventeen year old have I been. Wish I had known figurative from literal back then, Thalaivar would’ve been one scar less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death and funeral dignities

The last full stop to a passage marks the conclusion to what was merely a motley of sentences till then; demarcating thus a context to the flow of the same. What the full stop does by facilitating the end is it adds a dimension of unilateral meaning, putting to end any further accrual to the narrative’s course.
Whether it is a happy read or a sad one after the last full stop summarizes the quality of the passage.Death likewise is this impending last full stop to an individual’s course of life. Whether the world around him is bereaved or relieved, talks about the kind of life lead.

Death is the most intimidating phenomenon among nature’s quadruplet that also includes birth, disease and old age.
Birth brings, disease weakens, old age softens and Death dissolves.
Man over the years has learnt to tame birth, cure diseases and even cover up aging to significant extent. But what unsettles him is the enigma of death and its absoluteness. The only insurmountable peak, that hasn’t gone under his scissors of regulation or the comfort of understanding.
So what embarrasses at every step towards its mastery can only be embraced. Which exactly what constitutes the hallow around funerals and the rituals that come along. For they add a rhythm to an individual’s defeat to this unconquerable force called death, yet another time.

There are different nostalgias attached to different individuals post their death, depending on the impact they’ve left.
Most people have rudimentary or say epidermal level impacts after their times like he was cherubic, fat, thin, had silver grey hair, was bearded. They’re simple men whose recollection doesn’t percolate beyond the bodily remembrance.
Then we have the kind, who we remember for the traits they exhibited primarily like being short-tempered, humorous, sensible etc. People in this category manage to penetrate beyond the physical level, but stop just after.
Some are recalled by their accomplishments which could either be the position held, the qualification possessed and organization that they had been. These men were purposeful beings, who left an impact in our heads  beyond the personality level, but fell short of the heart; courtesy the materialistic nature of pursuit.
Last are the rare men who’ve left an indelible mark on our lives by their ideologies and school of thoughts. They generally are people we looked up to as being motivators, mentors, philosophers and guides.   We miss them the most because they occupied an eternal spot in the middle ground between our intellectual and emotional realms.

There was my dad’s uncle, a patriarch who was among the most forward thinking octogenarians that I know of; not that I know of a lot of octogenarians. He was a wonderful human, holistically loving without a trace of bias or an affiliation to preserve.
He had built a tap outside his house, built on the roads of an extremely humid temple town called Kanchipuram, primarily for travelers and nurtured a lot of stray animals with  fondness reserved to grandchildren.
He had single handedly championed a lot of causes, like planting several sapling across the town, founding a trust to oversee education and foster abandoned elders among many things. He had a liberal outlook about everything under the Sun despite being a deeply rooted practitioner of a faith.
So he had passed away one day. We are these intriguing creatures strung fascinatingly to our close ones by the undercurrent of telepathy. That morning when dad’s phone rang with his cousin’s number; I knew he was no more even before my dad picked up.
But to my shock I wasn’t a wee bit sad and was letting the entire news seep in an unfettered manner.  Here was someone I had really looked up to, whose ideals I revered and wanted to imbibe and yet I was unmoved.

I just didn’t feel like attending his funeral to see his mortal remains one last time. In my heart I knew what he meant.  There were things he stood for and propagated, which were pretty much the same things I had started taking baby steps towards.  He was a virtuous man who had left a legacy behind. Legacy that needed to be preserved in the actions of similar minded people who revered him. I didn’t want to relegate my relation with him to the familiar rigmarole of funeral mourning and emotional outbursts.

To me, he was a wonderful man, who lead an illustrious life and died when his body was about to invite quotations from prospective ailments.

As aware as I felt I was, I later tried smearing myself with guilt about not attending his funeral. Was it a blasphemy I had committed in the name of falling in line with a seemingly contrived ideology; for what is life but a generic iteration of cliches formed on conversations, alter egos, relationships and the accompanying trappings
It appeared to me after some serious musing that it was important to respect a person for what he stood for, than the functionalities of a funeral. For funerals are designed as religious merchandise to tug at one’s heart strings with notes of nostalgia. It is only when a deceased person’s line of thought is towed by his close ones, does he continue to live on in their actions. It is up to us to either eulogize comfortably over a dead person’s body or take the longer route to act upon preserving their legacy  later.