I had never been to a graveyard in my life before. It was my uncle’s death anniversary. I didn’t know him much but I felt a connect, a strange connect when I stood beside his grave. The news of his death last year was shocking. No one expected that this would happen. Not even my uncle would have imagined his death. I wasn’t at the burial last year but as I stared at the ground, blank faced, I could imagine a clear picture as to how it would have been. There is no shedding of tears right now. The faith that we will meet him soon makes my heart smile. That’s mere faith that comes with hope. Hope to meet him soon and faith that our hopes would turn out to be true one day. I was engulfed in utter silence. Nobody had anything to share. I wonder how my uncle felt when he breathed his last breath. A second before leaving this world, what exactly he would have felt? Guilt? Regret? That he couldn’t live his life a little longer? My uncle was a filthy rich man. I think regret could have been an emotion he felt at that particular moment. What about the thought of leaving his wife and only son? Does a person before dying think about himself and his present condition? Does he ponder upon the fact that in a matter of seconds he will be no more? Or does he think about the plight of the people he will be leaving behind? No book, no individual on Earth has got this opportunity to write how he or she felt when they died.
What if we do get an opportunity to experience death, then resurrect and express the feeling to the world? How will that moment be? This is perhaps the only feeling that you experience just once in your life and then you are no more to express or share it. Death becomes the final full stop to your story. I don’t believe in reincarnation and I don’t believe in the concept of disturbed souls hovering during midnight. Yes, I believe that spirits do exist but I am still not very clear about their concept. Experiencing death is a personal experience. Even if we had this chance of dying and returning back to life again to share it, the whole charm of this personal experience goes off. I don’t know what shit I am writing right now? Linking the word ‘charm’ with the experience of ‘death’. Well, there are many emotions, experiences, situations we face for the first time. First walk, first birthday, first love, first kiss. The best of best feelings come when it’s their first time. Always. No doubt. Experience of dying is also one of them. All the experiences I mentioned above can happen multiple times in our lives, except death. Why is that so?
Thoughts were flowing through my mind, gushing through my innermost interiors which never pondered upon the fact about this feeling of death. Then my focus turned towards the right side of my uncle’s grave. There was another grave, beside which, the dead person’s family/ friends had placed fruits and sweets on the ground. I wonder what the objective behind such act was. It seemed like mockery to me. As if the departed soul’s kith and kin want to make him/her feel jealous about the fact that they can hog on delicacies but he/she has to survive on fruits only. Perhaps that’s the prescribed diet for a healthy ‘soul’. What if the soul is not in a mood to have fruits? Hilarious and Stupid!! Sharing those fruits and sweets with a needy person would have been much more fruitful and satisfying.
At one corner of the graveyard was where all the dead children and newborn were buried. This is what moved the tectonic plates of my heart so badly and that is the reason why I scribbled down all these feelings on the back of the small vehicle repair receipt. I was short of writing space but overflowing emotions, which were transforming into written words. I walked past an inscription on the grave of a little girl. Two words were written with her name and date of birth- “Our Darling”. Maybe it was handwritten by her parents. A disturbed feeling hit me on seeing the way it was written. How they would have felt? How they would be feeling right now? How does it feel to lose your child? Your own blood? I am not a mother yet. I don’t know the feeling. But still I stood there dumbstruck troubled with all these questions. Tears trickled down.
I still don’t have an answer to all these questions. Personal experience is essential to answer some crucial questions that come across us in life. I am definitely not waiting for any sort of experience in order to know the answers of such troubled questions I faced when I was at the graveyard. But things don’t work out at your will. If this was the case, people won’t have had any faith on God and would have easily ignored Him. He would have remained a mere concept, subjected to faith. My day didn’t end there. I had much more to experience yet.
After visiting the graveyard, I went to an old age home in Chattarpur. Its situated in the innermost lanes of a bustling street. My uncle used to visit there often. He was loved by all the aunts and uncles who lived here. We had prepared lunch and snacks for them. This was the first time when I visited an old age home. I had always filled the National Social Service form in my college with a hope that I would get to visit an old age home one day and here I was, longing to strike a conversation with at least one of the grandmas and grandpas to know their stories and to build relations. Within no time, I struck a perfect chord with one of the grandmas in the house. Just as her name, she was the most beautiful, happiest woman with young and vibrant spirit. Her name is Angelina. She is a retired government school teacher who lost her only son few years ago in a tragic accident. She didn’t lose hope in life even after that and shifted to the old age home inspite of having her own home in Delhi. She loved the ambience of the place and the company of many ladies of her age made her feel more comfortable. That’s when she thought of shifting here permanently. She suffers from multiple ailments. Stone in bladder, broken knees, removed teeth and old age to top it all but that didn’t break her passion to live, to live life queen style. She proved it so convincingly that keeping a doting smile on your face can cheer up the saddest of people and that ultimately cheers up the inner self. “Beta, umar chahe kitni bhi ho dil jawaan hona chahiye” (Dear, your heart decides your age, not the number of years you lived)… That’s what she told me before I left. Her ‘never back down spirit’ was magnetic and her mesmerising smile would make anyone feel that Life Is Good and the fact that its you yourself who can make it better or best.
I met another grandma who found it difficult to speak but made sure that we hear her story before we leave. That’s how I found two new grandmothers- Angelina Dadi and Maria Nani. Two carefree, happy women sharing love and spreading smiles no matter what they are going through.
Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you will get. It’s like a mountain, that everyone needs to conquer, but we should not forget to plant the seeds of love and friendship while we travel to the mountain top, so that once we reach at the top and look back, we can look upon the beautiful path of flowers we have created, and that ways, we can stay assured in our graves that there will be a seed sown upon it someday and the flowers will keep on spreading the fragrances of life.