Of late, walking into cemeteries and whiling away time amidst the graves, gazing and pondering over the residents of those headstones, has caught my fancy. Upside: I am a new person to me. Downside: I still can’t muster the courage to do it after the sun’s gone down. Slowly, my fear of them is diminishing anyway. But this has happened only after months of pondering; and not exactly sulking, but introspective moments.
At lunch, I told Sam, ‘I swear I hear talks around the place. It always feels as if someone’s talking.’
Sam said, ‘It’s just the people around talking to their departed loved ones now six feet under.’
I said, ‘But there’s no one around, ever, Sam. I’ve always looked.’ She laughed saying, ‘Well then, if I were you, I’d be shit scared.’
I think about what she just said. And it is surprising that I don’t feel even a pinch of unease about it. Can ghosts talk to you? But more importantly, are ghosts real? Perhaps, the clairvoyant society can shed light on that, amply that too.
I go to the Christian cemetery. 2 miles away from home. As always, I walk it down. Gives me time to chew upon the cud of my thoughts. And I realise, I love cemeteries more than I find them creepy. I’ve been desperate to confess how much I detest the Hindu funeral processes where they make sure nothing of the departed is left behind, not even ashes. Why is burying wrong? I envy my Christian and Muslim friends who visit their departed regularly, even bring them flowers, gifts. Oh, how I would love to leave a box of Marlboro with light on that one grave!
I tell myself, maybe, one of these graves might hold answers to some of the questions I’ve been harboring for over a year now. Maybe, if I tell them a few and plead for them to get answers or even so much as convey my desperate messages, the ones living in boxes below, might hear me out, even take my messages there where I can’t reach.
The last time, intrigued by my regular visits, Sam asked, ‘Why do you go there anyway? It’s not like you’ll find what you’re looking for.’ I didn’t know what to say. Why do I go there so often? The graves in their silence promise me something, by not denying outright, about the existence of certain things. I go there because I seek for some signs, standing by the headstones is like knocking upon their doors and requesting the residents for some response that the living can’t help me with, I dare them to prove their power, if they are present there, if at all.
No matter what I do, nothing changes, not even so much as a dried leaf blows into my way. I wait to hear them whisper to the wind, and for the wind to murmur in my ears. I long for the winds to get violent like they do in Bollywood movies, or the clouds to burst overhead, I peer and peer for the horizon to get hazy, foggy, blurred, and obscure my vision. I blink several times and in the split second before I open them, I expect some presence, human or divine, I don’t care.
But in my heart, I know, what I want I may never get. The remnants I grope for are not here, are nowhere. But in my heart, I know that the one thing I am looking for, to feel its presence around, reachable; so what if it is 6 feet under the earth where I stand bathing it with unstoppable tears, is in vain.
Mostly, I feel, I just want to know that I am not alone, at least not in this place; so what if it houses death so profoundly, with an unnerving finality. That’s when I know I’m looking for hope beyond the end. I am, perhaps, truly living only when amidst the dead.
Do you too believe there’s life in the cemeteries? What if the souls feel abandoned and live as outcast in those lands? I’d love to know what you think?
What an amazing piece of writing and beautiful thoughtful musings. I do believe there is something to spirits lingering. Not always, but if you live long enough you hear stories that are pretty convincing. My daughter who was very close to her grandmother remembers waking up at the exact time of her death and feeling like she was saying goodbye to her. We found out the next day she had died at that same time (across the ocean and in a different time zone, but it was the same time she woke up). It’s all a mystery.
What an interesting post, Asha.
Thanks, Yas. I’d really like to know what you think of my questions. Tell me.
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