Palanquin or Stretcher?

If you’ve ever observed the preparations that take place before an Indian wedding, you’ll probably remember mostly chaos, absolutely no order or system to things and people… lots of people, milling about, adding to the chaos and contributing a grand total of zilch to the preparations. The hustle and bustle is constant in the wedding household and an electrifying buzz can be both heard and felt. To someone who’s never experienced it before, it can be quite mystifying and shocking, really.

Ironically, much the same can be observed upon a death. The rented tents and canopies are set up by the indifferent labourers and as they hammer nails into the hard ground with blunt force, to keep the canopies from flying away, they drive home the fact that there’s an emptiness within where the person you knew used to be. The squeals of laughter from within the four walls are replaced with erratic wailing and sobs that could very well be mistaken for giggles or fits of laughter. Large groups of mourners awkwardly moon about both the house and the exteriors, not quite knowing what to do with them selves. The family needs some solitude, but they need the camaraderie as well. So everyone just shuffles about in a daze. Most people don’t feel the grief, the loss of the person, till much later. It can be pretty hard to believe that you’ll never see or hear from someone you saw barely a few hours ago, just because someone says it’s so. It’s hard to shake the feeling that at any moment now the allegedly deceased is just going to pop around the corner and help you out with their funeral preparations. The inescapable feeling of living in a parallel universe just doesn’t seem to leave you alone and all you can think about is just how messed up the whole situation is. It’s only as you see the body being carried away towards the cremation grounds that it really sinks in. They’re gone.

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