I watched as the flames reached the sky, dancing as it consumed the grand funeral pyre that housed the coffin that held the vessel that once held my grandmother. There was no wind, and the sun beat down on the quiet congregation. I stood there in the sweltering heat and felt every crackle and spark the fire spit, somehow harmonizing with the rhythm of my heart, a solemn song.
The magnificent structure finally collapsed on itself, slowly, little by little, almost caringly like a loving embrace – the final embrace before the final journey. People began to walk away in small groups until it was only my family that was left. Once the flames had reduced, and the funeral pyre was now flattened, I walked away too, back to the house.
The air began to change. I could feel the dense air against my face – a sudden gloom enveloped the skies. As I walked in through the gate the first drops of the delayed monsoon rain began to fall. A sudden rush of fat rain drops beat down on me but I did not hurry to get into the house, I took my time, soaking in every drop, feeling it on my skin.
Everyone was chatting in groups, warm cups of ginger tea in their hands. I saw my mother sitting next to her sister, she gave me a small smile I smiled back and walked into my grandmother’s room. My mother did not cry anymore, my grandmother had lived a well fulfilled life. I looked around the room now devoid of its owner; however it felt like she would walk in any second to retrieve something she had forgotten.
I took a towel out of the cupboard and sat next to the window drying my hair. I looked out into the backyard, as a child I thought it was a small jungle. My cousins and I have had countless adventures in this pretend jungle and my grandmother would call us in for a snack or some cool soda she had got from the tiny shop on the other side of the backyard.
The trees looked greener than usual as they soaked in the welcoming rain. Rain drops dripped off the leaves and fell into the ground, the smell of wet soil seeped in through the window; I savoured it for a moment with my eyes closed.
The peaceful rain was the calm after the chaos maybe that is what death felt like when it came upon my grandmother, a quiet calmness. Life is a kind of chaotic exuberance – fleeting and bright and us, shining spirits in impermanent vessels walking in this brilliant existence.
I wrote this based on my memories from my grandmother’s funeral, I was quite young back then but that air of nostalgia and magic I feel whenever I think of my grandmother and her house has not left me.
I dedicate this to her memory.
Photo from Pinterest