You became a stranger over the past few decades. I remember I was only 15, raging hormones and all; and we stopped communicating… I never forgave you for all that you made us go through, you were one of the reasons I closed up to the world and became an introvert, always afraid to open up to others in fear of them going away in the end.
Then I met you again a few months ago; wrinkled, tired and living on borrowed time. The people who you had listened to and distanced yourself from us were the ones who were now tired of your existence and regularly hoped and prayed for you to pass on. What a shame! We loved you so much! And yet you had to take sides, instead of showing your authority, you chose to go away.
Later, looking at you lying on the bed, hardly breathing… people around waiting for you to stop. End the struggle and move on! And I wondered, do I really know you anymore? You were a stranger who didn’t talk, didn’t even open his eyes, you were just there… breathing, because you didn’t have anything else to do. Nothing to say, nothing to convey, you looked tired.
When I got the call that night, everyone around you and me were calm, composed and collected; they had waited for this moment for a long time, and when it came… it came a bit too late.
We came to see you in the morning, to bid our farewells one last time… there you were, an object instead of a being, on the floor tied up and weighed down by the flowers. Your eyes half open or half closed, the mouth that I remember was gasping for air had been left open, toothless, and expressionless, a piece of cotton rudely shoved in as if to gag and choke you of all that sounds that never came out throughout your lifetime.
When I carried you on my shoulder, I realized that you had reduced down to nothing! The only weight we felt was of the heaps of the flowers. Putting you on the pile of wood, smearing ghee on your face, hands, feet and torso… that cold flesh that meant nothing now. I still remember almost blurting out to the guys to be careful not to hurt you while they were piling up the wooden logs on top of you. And the fire was lit.
The wood caught fire pretty quickly! And so did you… the skull popped like a fire cracker, leaving a trail of fireworks around. Then popped the kneecaps and your titanium joints that costed hundreds of thousands just plonked off like scrap metal… they couldn’t help you stand on your feet or walk away from the fire… I will not easily forget the sick fervor with which the dom was going at your remains to hasten the process of burning… it was more than 2 hours that you took to turn into a pile of ash and a few scattered bone bits.
The bits were gathered and washed in milk and water, then you were placed in a small little earthen pot with a parchment containing your details and a small prayer to the gods to take you where you belong… these will be floated in a river someday.
Now, you are gone… your memory lingers and the people who wished and prayed for your departure are sitting there tired of crying and feeling guilty about everything they said and did to hurt you, cribbing about how they could have told you this and asked for that before you left.
Goodbye! May you find whatever you are looking for in the eternal time and space…. We might meet someday, then we will sit and talk. Till then, find your peace.