The mobile phone was buzzing in the silent mode.I picked it to check who was the caller as I was unlikely to receive any call at that hour of the day, since I was in the class. It was from my home. I ignored it, as I was in the middle of a lecture.It rang again and again and then one more time.
Mobile phone was the latest phenomena and very few had it back then. The incoming calls were expensive, so unless it was of dire importance nobody would call or receive. It was more of a status symbol and was used very prudently.
I got four missed calls in ten minutes! Surely something important needed to be communicated. I picked up the mobile phone and walked out of the class. An inner voice was cautioning me, I had an uneasy feeling as if something had gone terribly wrong. I called back on the landline and my cousin received it, he asked me to come home immediately, my father had suffered a heart attack and had been taken to the hospital.
I grabbed my bag, and caught hold of my friend and ran down the stairs. I had a car but I was not in the position to drive so I asked him to drive me home. The mobile phone rang again, I was sacred to the bones to receive that all, as I feared I may hear things I don’t want to hear. It was my cousin again and he asked me to bring my mother home from her school, where she was a principal. I was asked to inform her about my father’s condition in the most gentle, subtle way and bring her to the hospital.
My father was no more. I was afraid to admit it to myself but somehow I was aware of the tragedy.
There is a mysterious way the universe works, it tries to communicates to you, send signals, prepare you for the future. If you are open and sensitive enough you will be able to read the hints. Your body and universe works in tandem but your ego, pride, hatred and all other overbearing emotions are an obstruction to you getting close to the universe.
We brought him home. Here, he was lying on the floor where once we danced hand in hand, arms in arms. He had pleasant, satisfied smile on his face, like he had been relived of all the pain, like his purpose on earth was fulfilled. Heaven was his new abode.
My mother sat besides him, crying. My sister was still in the school and blissfully unaware of the unfortunate happening. Neighbours arrived, relatives arrived, friends arrived, friend’s friend arrived, some unknown unfamiliar faces also appeared. The house was crowded, mood was somber, ladies sat on one side near my mother trying to pacify her, justifying her loss as god’s will. Men on the other side, discussing the details of last rites.
I stood near the door, controlling my tears. Fighting with self, the hardest fight possible. Every inch of my body wanted to scream and cry but my mind wanted me to be in control. My heart wanted to let go and my mind held on because it knew better.
My cousin came and stood next to me, he grabbed my hand and asked me to let go. He told me it was ok to cry but I did’t.
I went and sat next to my mother to comfort her and to let her know, I was there for her. Few ladies, asked her to break her bangles and remove her toe ring. As my mother was about to perform the act, I grabbed her hand and asked her not to. She was in tears and told me it was ok and it didn’t matter any more. I told her, it did and she did’t have to adhere to any of the societies rules. Not one bit, if that makes her uncomfortable or uneasy. She looked at me and hugged me, tears still rolling down her cheek.
Back in time, all the rituals and ceremonies must have been made to make people’s life comfortable and easy but if they are harassing people, we must rethink about them. In a situation, where the person is already broken, why would the society want to create more inconvenience. Why follow rituals which doesn’t provide you mental peace and calm. Why would anybody want to elucidate the point that you are suffering as you are a widow by breaking bangles or removing toe ring in public, why make an event out of it?
Group of men were discussing about last rites of my father, I walked up to my cousin and told him to inform them that I would perform the last rites. I was the eldest in the family and it was my duty.
He looked at me, said nothing and walked away to join the discussion. Minutes later an old uncle called me and informed me that it was not possible because I was a girl. My heart and mind exploded in million pieces as I had no idea how will I persuade the entire society to let me do my duty.
Let me show my father for the last time that I love him and will stand with him against the world. Yes, I am a girl but I am also my father’s daughter and now I want to be his son!
Years back, when my grandmother was trying to persuade my father to have more children in hope of having a boy. He told her that he has three girls and he does not need a son. In concerned voice, she asked him who would provide, Agni to his Pyre? He said, my eldest daughter will. I don’t need a son for that, I have her.
After much arguments and dislikes of many elderly people, it was agreed that I would perform the last rites, light my father’s pyre.
Girls don’t go to cremation ground, so to support me some of the women of my family joined me. I was unaware of another battle which was waiting for me there. The pandit refused to do Pooja, as a girl lighting a pyre was a sin and not acceptable by gods. Even during such mental agony, I was wanting to ask him why would god differentiate between a girl and a boy since he created both but I didn’t.
By then, I was mentally and physically exhausted, I was not in a position to fight any more but I did’t want to give up either. It was my fathers wish and I had to fulfil it, that’s all I could think. Tears started rolling down my eyes, I was angry, helpless, exhausted, broken, tormented. But I had no idea how to convince that pandit.
Pandit asked a male member of the family to perform my father’s last rites. My cousin stepped forward, he held my hand, walked me towards my father, the pandit handed a burning log to him. He took my hand and put it next to his, on the log. Together, we lit my father’s pyre and wished him the final goodbye. I closed my eyes in prayers and finally broke down.
Gods don’t differentiate, humans do. I am my father’s daughter, who is his son too!