Thursday, November 10, 2005

Time of Death

I have just returned from India after attending the funeral services of my maternal grandmother. She passed away November 7th 2005 at 8:50 a.m. India time. She died peacefully at home surrounded by her son, daughter, and daughter in law who saw her breathe her last. I reached Bombay with my father at 7:30 p.m. India time after my grandmother had been lain to rest at her grave, a few steps away from my late grandfather's tomb.

My mother can't believe the timing of it all. She was called to India by her sister in law on Nov 2nd when my grandmother slipped into a coma, everyone realizing it would only be: a matter of time. People could stay in a coma for a day, months, or years. Mom was to fly back home on Nov 9th and she was prepared to see her mother go. Call it fate or good fortune, my grandmother's passing came at such a time, one would think it was definitely all worked out and planned. No visitors were there at home (which would happen at odd hours everyday) so my grandma seemed to be subconsciously aware that this should be ideal time to bid farewell.

She left behind a legacy that touched so many in our community. She was quite the celebrity with her religious poetry. She was one of the last in a generation who saw India under colonial rule and witnessed countless loss of life during the Partition. Her lowest point came when the head of our religious community decided not to allow gatherings devoted to one of our martyred historical leaders, without their permission. She no longer could express her deep love through her hymns in public. Nevertheless, hundreds of people came in to pay their respects at her funeral service. Hearing about how her poetry gave them strength and bolstered their faith made me proud to be her grandaughter. Although it is not true in all cases, I felt that the tenet of "the way you die most often is a culmination of the way you lived" hit home.

I find myself instantly transformed in 3 days. I've been supporting my mother and never leaving her alone. I have free passes to the Phil Collins concert (the final tour of his career) tonite but have decided not to go. Two years ago, I would've attended this show.. because I was such an individualist, always thought that the best way to help people through trials was to leave them alone and by not extending pity, they would get over whatever they had to easily. I think I was wrong. As you get older, it is only natural to think about what will happen when it is finally your turn. You may not even get a chance to forsee your turn. Our family is thankful for having the luxury to prepare ourselves for my grandmother's passing.

The burning questions for me were this: Who's gonna be at my funeral after I die? How is my body going to be treated? What will I leave behind? The one thing I am sure about is that we don't take anything with us when we depart this world. No amount of material wealth or social status distinguishes one dead body from another. But what you leave behind could make you more alive in the hearts of those who surround you at your time of death. What would anyone remember about me when I'm gone?


Blogger nijaz said...

In a world of frantic pace and celebrated independances, my fear is how long before even knows when one is dead? How often do we come across...after a couple of days, when...


And I think the right balance is required when dealing with such situations, compassion is alright, but when overdone becomes a joke, and loneliness is the worst feeling when facing sadness.

Friday, 11 November, 2005  
Anonymous Willy C said...

Mubie,I was at bedside when Mom died on March, 1999. No one else was witness. Part of me wanted tolook away but the greater part gazed in sympathy, gratitude--and I cupped her trembling hands till the spasm ceased and she calmed. A glowing peace came to her face and I kissed her and whispered my goodbye.
My wish is that someone would be there for me and ....

Wednesday, 19 July, 2006  

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