We sat there peacefully, content, holding hands like we always did.
The women were wailing. Daughter beating her chest like a woman possessed. She was close to her mother. Few men talking about how strong was she, my wife. This was a proud moment for me. I clutched her hands firmly. She doused her face with a warm smile.
A distant relative was crying her heart out. She seemed to have been affected the most. Why? Was my wife so close to her? I doubt. “I was her role model”, pat came her reply to my thought. “Ahaa, so you have started to read my mind already. Pretty swift that was sweetheart.”
The body was ready to be immersed into endless flames. The eldest one, with tears in his eyes, held the wooden stave (baton) and was supposed to squash her skull, but started crying. The priest, an old hat, in the middle of his chants patted on his shoulder and said, “Unhe swarg ka dwar dikhaiye, fod dijiye sarr” (Open the heaven’s doors for her, squash her head). He was as resilient as me, and bid her goodbye finally. She was diminishing as the pyre burnt.
Few gentlemen, wearing crisp white kurtas with dark glasses were discussing how the skull if not broken can be misused by those babas, how they can impersonate a dead being and fornicate with their body, what powers they have got, besides other odds and ends.
While everyone was crying, we were holding each other’s hand with varying movements. It had been a decade after all.
“Why are they crying so much for you? They never looked so remorseful when I died”, I was a tad astonished.
“Simply because you had a natural death, a satisfactory one. Mine was tragic”, she was again reasoning, a habit I had known in her since I had started loving her. Or maybe a habit that I had known in her since I had started knowing her, which would have maybe led me to love her. Too many maybes her, ceteris paribus.
“But why are they crying since we are rejoicing? Idiots. Don’t they know we are re-uniting after a decade? They should perhaps celebrate. Two lovers meeting after a long hiatus. I had waited for you since long, not carrying on to my next birth.”
“Yes. I agree with you, swami.”
“Are you trying to be sarci here? Swami and all, eh?”
“One is supposed to be profound after being deceased, right, swami?”
“Okay, I’d consider this one justified.”
Finally the concerned people left us. Not just the cremation ground, but the ties, the relationship, the sense of belonging. The priest gave them a twig each, and after he chanted a few verses, everyone knelt down with their back on us, and threw the twigs over their shoulder, in our direction. Is that all? The circle of life ends here? Is a twig and few verses are all it takes to unbelong?
It was evening now. The cacophony of the humans was replaced by the birds. The trees were buzzing with squeaks – innocent and peaceful. We sat there peacefully, content, holding hands like we always did. It’s been a ritual for us. Holding hands. Through certain maneuvers of our damp palms, we used to emote, express.
A slight clutch would mean reassurance while walking through the crowd. A feeling of I’m-there-for-you-forever, I’m-yours. Fights would end with holding hands. If one of the partners doesn’t play around with the fingers, then the war is still on. A tight clutch would mean the dust has settled. Matching the tip of the fingers heralded a frivolous mood, only to end with a tight clutch, which meant I-can’t-get-enough-of-you.
When the passion overflowed, hands would seek solace in the chasm between the thigh and calf of either of the partners – a stronger and tighter clutch. Intimacy found a new meaning when the conjoined hands ran through each other’s body, and ultimately, caressed our souls. Whilst the back of the hands seduced, the palm gave a new meaning to life. It was above seduction. It was Moksha. The enlightenment. The truth. This was what Kama Sutra taught, every Guru advised – to find the ultimate pleasure that is beyond intercourse. Whenever we held each other’s hand, we felt that our souls connected.
We had braved storms of vulnerabilities, high tides of depressions, lightening of suspicions, floods of insecurities, blizzards of differences; just by holding hands. No words uttered. Just simple maneuverings of the palm.
“You see there, our daughter, she still is mourning, poor soul”, she was worrying about the daughter.
“I know, crying incessantly. Crazy girl she always has been.”
“Wish I could tell her about Moksha and Karma. How the cycle of life is completed, how every birth is connected, how I was supposed to be your wife in this birth, and she is supposed to be my mother in the next. How funny this Karma is, isn’t it? I mean, you were my wife earlier.”
“Yep. A funny thing certainly. And these people are still crying over for what they’ve lost, not realizing what they’ll gain. You are right, wish we could tell them the ultimate truth, enlightening them that we never die, we just change bodies. It’s a cycle life follows.”
With eerie hoots and insipid fluttering of wings, bats took to the calm of the night, fleeting by blind-folded. Ash had a strange orange glow now, accentuating her aura. And we sat there peacefully, content, holding hands like we always did.
Note: I wrote this after my granny passed away, about a decade later than my grandpa’s death. This was just a thought, that maybe their souls might have re-united. So this thought became an ode of sorts.