Waiting for the last breath to part as everyone waits for the inevitable is a feeling that no one might understand before actually experiencing it. The pallor of death lies low on the faces and the walls and everyone except the person concerned seems to be terribly agitated.
This most unlikely vigil is what I experienced when I was called to be present at the deathbed of a distant relative as was expected of me since I was now considered “grown up”. I felt sickened at the expressions of the people there…I could feel the hidden current almost a bated breath expectation of death so that all necessary preparations of a funeral could be initiated. I had never felt so cold, it was as if the life of that person had ceased to matter as if the transition from ‘she’ to ‘it’, ‘a person’ to ‘a body’ had already been made and all that was left was the irrelevant detail of actually taking that final step. What was more irritating was she didn’t seem in any hurry to take that step. How very inconsiderate…doesn’t she know it’s a weekday, people have to return to their offices and their respective run of the mill rat races? Nobody had all the time in the world.
They say one shouldn’t talk of death as it bodes ill but then what about that collective unsaid death wish for the person who was once the home maker and was now so annoyingly holding up all the work that needed to be done after she died.
As, everyone showed up they shook her and called her as if to wake up their own spirits and just pat them back to sleep while telling them “we did our duty”........the endless roll-call of “Jethima…ami…ami Swapan”, “Jethima..ami…ami Gadai” and so on and so forth made me want to throw up. It was the ‘society’ and the ‘social fibre’ that we are so proud of laid bare for me to see. They had come…as was expected, as was proper and civil.
Why the hypocrisy, I don’t know but nobody minded. Nobody wanted to celebrate the life that was spent, no one reflected on it. Everyone concentrated on the death and the inevitability and helplessness of it. No one cared for life for there was no human being in that room just mortals doing what they were “supposed” to do.