“Mole! Do you want us to come to get you from the bus stop? ” “No, Amma. I will walk home.”
The walk home felt like the placid prelude to an incessant storm. She evaluated the importance of the walk home and understood she needed this preparation to enter the hellfire with tranquillity. She needed a moment to muster coping devices to calm the calamity waiting in store for her. Besides, she was befuddled by the need for an escort home. It’s just a ten minutes walk.
The home was packed to the brim and overflowing with human bodies. She felt the sensation of estrangement intertwine with numbness as she walked in. When she left her house, she had been accustomed to the rituals of mundane things that sear through the surface of her homeland. But she came back, years later, and found everything alien to her, the way a tang of intimacy accumulated at the end of each sentence, the curve of the syllables that mimic the arc of their hands when they try to articulate words into gestures, archaic ways the city bids you to its unfathomable pit. The umbilical cord severed; she found home undone for her. There was another sensation, burning deep in her heart for the last three hours. She felt like sleepwalking; numbness has spread through her body like inkblots into damp paper. A veneer of surrealism coated the surface of her skin. She watched as it navigates its way around the nooks and corners of her house.
Her blood lay cold on the floor, clad in white, toes wound together. She wondered for a moment about the futility of such an action. The impossibility of her brother sprinting away from the cold floor now made it look like a cruel penultimate joke being inflicted upon her clan. She wondered if the soul has already left his body and was heaven-bound, or is it lingering in the hope of entering back into the barren body?
It occurred to her how fifty percent of her genetic material is lost to the world now. The month following his final biology exam; they have huddled together and examined each other to catch the residuals of similarities that persist within them. They learned that siblings share fifty percent of the genetic composition inherited from their parents. After hours of scrutiny, the remnants of the grave celestial secret had revealed itself to them; the nook of their noses, the shy way their necks arched, the gleam at the corner of their eyes. Now that the near carbon copy of hers ceases to exist, she found the world unbearable, bizarre, and pointless.
She beckoned in by her uncle, older brother of her father, with a limp and an unadulterated affection sprinkled in with austerity. She promptly noted that the mourning face did not suit her uncle. It felt bizarre, like an elephant dressed in baby clothes. They passed some comments on how her journey from college was uneventful and quick.
Hushed words escaped the mouths of women sitting solemnly on cheap plastic chairs that local event managing firm brings in on short notice. The words filled up the air in a dense hue around her and threatened to suffocate her to death.
The initial shock of the news of the death had paralyzed her. Hurt and anger had imbibed into her brain, and she felt even her inner organs leaking tears in pain. She was vanquished, dejected, and left to live a life of ceaseless anguish without her kin. She had broken down into the shoulders of her friend in abysmal agony. But that was three hours ago. She has dried her tears and traveled back home. On the bus ride home, she carefully observed her limbs fill up with melancholy, lungs a heaving machine threatening to give in. Subliminal bouts of crying surfaced in her eyes and died down intermittently.
The next person to meet was her cousin-in-law, who burst into crying the moment they locked their eyes. Cousin whimpered softly into her ears how she is left alone with no siblings to share life with. Volatile tears eventually turned into snivels, and they embraced each other in a tight hug. She adorned the consoler’s inevitable role as the cousin mourned over the pain of watching a person lose their kin. The scene felt almost comical to her. She swallowed her impulse to chuckle.
Familiar faces pan through her eyesight, offering condolences and remedies for a pain they did not comprehend. They conspired to lift up the unfortunate family’s motive and heal the maimed that has cut deeper into her fibers. “Mole should stay strong.” “You are the one to give strength to your parents now. Do not cry. ” “Watch over your parents. You have to stay strong.”
The absurdity of the situation peaked at a crescendo as time passed by. She watched as the orchestra of macabre sympathy played out with a maddening tune. They chanted into her ear and denied her the right to tears. If not for the unburdened, who does the faculty to disparage the misery of fallen lies? She bit deep into her lips and swallowed her sobs. The judgment of the mob on the cruel requisite to tears atoned her a sinner!
Then slowly, but surely, the time came nigh to the cremation ceremony. Her fifty percent was lifted from the cold floor and taken away to the pyre. She felt something burning deep inside her throat. The chants around her reached a deafening pitch as the flames slowly eat away her fifty percentage. The flames danced a morbid dance around his body, licking him and devouring him further. A whiff of flesh burning transpired into the air. The pungent smell reminded her of meat being cooked under low heat. Chants grew louder… Chants. Tears. Flames…
She let out a deep wail, like a fatally wounded animal. An unearthly, inhumanly cry split through the air and annihilated all that surrounded her.
A collector of unwanted things, lover of the sun through canopies, princess of said but unheard words, and daughter of a city with two souls. I am a graduate of IISER Thiruvananthapuram.