The art of mourning


I know I know … y’all think I am getting morbid in my not-so-old age!!! LOL that is not so.  But getting to this age … and watching a whole lot of people departing has brought me face to face with the politics of mourning.

There are people who walk into the bereaved house looking sombre

There are others who come in, blank faced …. ohhhh they dont wanna be there, they square their shoulders and steel themselves.  It is a chore, they check if people have noted their presence and then they beat a hasty retreat!

And the strange thing is that though no one is marking attendance, every one’s presence is duly noted and lots of venom is reserved for folks who do not turn up.

I am floored by a relative though.  A distant relative of ours had passed on.  And the lady needed a lift.  Since I had to go to the bereaved house myself, I agreed to pick her up.  We chatted all through the way.  She even got me to stop at Sunder Nagar and we had the most awesome chaat.  Then we landed at the house ……, and she burst into inconsolable tears.

OH MY GOD!!!!  She beat the most accomplished actresses at the demonstration of grief.  Here I was guiltily licking imli chutney off my fingers while watching her performance … quite over-awed!  And then it dawned on me that she actually set off others crying too.  Gosh!

I have seen it time and again.  People – mostly of the female variety carry within them deep pools of grief …. and this they use to mourn at others’ losses.  No one is actually mourning the departure of the person himself.  Every one gathers together and then weeps for their own losses, their own sorrows.  I am sure it is cathartic and extremely good therapy.

First women gather around the bereaved wife/mother/sister/daughter and wail.  It would seem that they are inconsolable.  Then they slowly move away and start exchanging news : who died where, how much did he leave, what was the daughter in law doing, so and so’s son cleared his exam and is now earning xxxx amount of money.   It is amazing – this carnival of life.

Men come in looking serious.  They sit with the bereaved men of the house solemn …. for about 10 minutes.  Then they gather outside and discuss stuff – beginning with what they were doing when they got the news, speculate about who is going to fill the dead person’s shoes and then they start discussing shares and politics.

A good friend calls it the “On stage look and behavior and Off stage look and behavior”.

Glad to know that I am not the only one who has this modern day need to be brutally honest and tactless.


17 thoughts on “The art of mourning

  1. Reminds me of the time I attended a close friend’s funeral. While people were paying their last respects, there was this bunch of young their 30s (friends of the deceased) who stood in a circle , laughing and chatting. Fine, they didn’t have to put on a show of sorrow. But some respect, right? pathetic.

    Pathetic and socially inept! They should have carried their cheerfulness to the back stage (backyard/driveway/parking) and not in front of the bereaved

  2. and I thought I was going loony yes there are such gifted actors they would give anyone a run for their money..

    like they say in Hindi,’dahaadein maar ke rona!

    gawd!it makes me gag!

    They have their uses …. its a talent! Rudaalis were used some time ago ….

  3. and I thought I was going loony!
    yes there are such gifted actors they would give anyone a run for their money..

    like they say in Hindi,’dahaadein maar ke rona!

    gawd!it makes me gag!

  4. Has anyone noticed that just when the family is coming to terms with the loss, there are people (usually women) who start wailing and saying stuff like “hai, kitna jawaan thaa”, “ab bechari maa kyaa karegi” and the family breaks down again! And they are usually the ones who had chaat at Sundar Nagar before getting into mourning mode. 🙂

    Quirky Indian

    I know!!! I could kill them! They’ve done a number on me many times

  5. I can’t mourn like that… and I don’t go to see dead bodies…
    My friend’s dead body still haunts me if I close my eyes and think of him.
    I prefer the living memory of the departed…
    With extreme reluctance I was present when my FIL passed on…
    I realised that I don’t like to cry or see my loved ones so still and lifeless when my favorite grandpa passed away and I was still in high school.

    Pixie one has to, you know. To know life – you must come to terms with mortality

  6. yea.. you are right…
    But, I just can’t, you know?

    It’s really hard to explain really…

    Ah well, everything happens when the time comes …..

  7. Never have had to attend an actual funeral (or a wake) but I really would rather avoid going when everyone else is there. Would prefer to go later and pay my respects/condolences in person.

    On a rather tangential note, watch Death At A Funeral if you get a chance. Superb movie.

    I’ll tell Kid#1 to download it for me

  8. That’s a perfect description of a funeral.
    I found it really irritating that when my grandfather died, each sister of his came separately and did their whole show-and-tell piece.

    And then after a while they were all outside. eating and drinking like a director had said “cut”.

    I hate funerals. Would want mine to be fun. Otherwise, I won’t attend.

    I aim to haunt mine! Just to stir things up a bit 😛

  9. 🙂 Perfect title …

    More than the crying phase,i have noticed that people complain about salt and spice in food served **rolls eyes**

    I know!!!!

  10. I remember reading a whole series on – The Art of…
    I think yours could be added to the annals of fame.. 🙂

    Thanks Diana

  11. It is the same everywhere isn’t it?? Quite an accurate description of things. I’ll join you in that ‘modern day need to be brutally honest and tactless.’

    Being honest and tactless is so comfortable

  12. Nah, we notice it all, and then we move on-considering it is the way of the world.
    I have a little input- these drama women actually make you cry if you dont. And these drama women force you to quieten if you are actually crying.

    The Modern Day Rudaalis!

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