On a hot summer’s day, they say it’s better to wear white but today my chosen outfit is black. As I pull up in my car I see a crowd of people, women dressed in white, the men mostly in black. I like white too, and black, but today both colours strike a fear in my heart, but on an occasion like this, any other colour would not be right.
There is quietness around the crowd of people, we all exchange a few glances while the wooden box is being moved from the car and taken into an empty gym, at the request of the family. As we stroll in, I notice two distinct lines, a wave of black and white, bound only by that wooden box, a natural brown with three red roses placed neatly on top, close to each other.
I stand back, probably three rows back on the side of where the men are standing, I can hear sobbing, some loud crying, then sobbing, I keep my head down. It’s 20 minutes since my arrival and the signal is given for the priest to say a prayer, after which the box is taken back out and into the car, I feel teary eyed, but that’s just some painful memories.
I make my way back to the car and we have some additional passengers, friends of my mum, hitching a ride, we follow the black cars. Our 15 minute journey is full of women “chit chat”, old times, loved one’s gone, I just continue to focus on the road. “You know, my husband eats so many nuts that I asked him whether he was a monkey in his last life”, states my aunt, we chuckle, it was needed.
As we reach the place where they keep the big oven, the sun get’s hotter, it must be stark naked the sun, all that heat making it take off all its clothes.
The room where people stand before boxes get cooked in the oven is small, compact, with some light music, a laptop rolling through images, of past faces. I have been here many a times, so memories flash back again, but I am in control. There’s a guy I know at the front, saying something, welcoming all the people. He then informs us all that the grandson, who is eight, has written a few words and wants to say them. As the child mounts the stage, his first words, broken, are followed by streaming tears, it’s at this point, me, like many others, find the hardness of our feelings melt in an instance, it’s like someone has stuffed a large apple in my throat and I am finding it hard to breath. “You brave boy”, I say to myself, so young yet so thoughtful, you can hear sudden gasps of grief as he continuously breaks down after each short sentence. I feel like clapping, but I can’t, I feel like telling this boy how brave he is, but I would be in a long line waiting.
“Uncle Ji always said, take time for your loved one’s, tell them you Love them everyday, give them a hug everyday because if it is your last day, then you have no regrets”.
A dead man’s last words……
This post is dedicated to a family friend who left for more wonderful things and to a place where we all will have to wait our turn. We should listen to his advice, yet the minute we all left the crematorium; we forgot all about that and the stresses and strains of a busy life took over again.