Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Some people are fortunate to read their own obituary. Well , is  there  something fortunate in getting to read that? It may also turn to  be a painful reminder, a late realization that you are or were a damn fool. How about being present at your memorial service? The white pallor of you, dressed in immaculate  white traditional uniform of the dead? You would come to know what the world- the friends who you loved , the relatives who you thought loved you, the acquaintances who nod while you pass them on the street ,all would subscribe to the requiem.

The eulogy they may read and it may blush your cheeks even though you are dead.
The ones who disparaged you and hounded you to the end of the world while you were alive, or even did the eerie black magic to summon Lucifer and numb your senses, all would in unionism orate in praise  of the magnificent  person you were. You will wonder why your mother , your wife or husband did not notice these  conspicuous qualities  while you were walking around in flesh and blood. And now once you were  interned in the inescapable underground vault the whole world conspire to  bring forth  grand orations about what you were. You may for a moment  pinch your cheek to  know if all is real. But then the dead cannot pinch, they pinch through!

This was what I felt whenever I  have been at the sidelines listening to a few memorial services . After you are gone, you will be eulogised for things that you did not do, and would not have done either. Hallo and saint hood is thrust upon you . And for that to happen, you need not have to be patient and bring forth three miracles like the Vatican insist. You  only just have to pass away. Scoundrel or saint when alive, you will be baptised after death and given a clean chit that you could not have dreamt when alive.
The mother of all jokes  would be a primate throwing tributes to the departed. The closest liaison he must have ever had with  the deceased would be at a  sumptuous meal complimented with exotic spirits, at the home of the departed. But the words and phrases that flow from him in tribute will flatter even Alcapone lying in his grave.

Eulogies have a queer sense. What they really mean one may not understand because it is neigh impossible to enter the mind of the speaker and decipher what he or she  really means  when he says, “I loved him”. By far that is the fact. Exceptions to the rule are not to be forgotten!

Here  are a few tributes to the departed-

-By a husband who excelled in  infidelity  towards  his wife had this to say at the memorial service.”If  tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.”

-By the Bishop who lead the memorial service to a young woman of the laity who was raped and killed. “If we have been pleased with life, we should not be displeased with death, it comes from the hand of the same master.”

-A politician’s requiem  at the funeral of his bête noire. “say not in grief he is no more , but live in thankfulness that he was ( is no more).”

-A friend’s eulogy .”The mystery of his love is greater than the mystery of death.”

How  I wish I could speak at the memorial service of at least a few people I know. Remind them of their lives and more ,which that they thought people pretermitted


NRIGirl said...

Every time I think of the missed opportunity at my Papa's send off, I feel terrible.

I was so overtaken by grief that I let it slip by which I regret ever since.

We loved him much and still do...

Bikramjit said...

I dont think I will attain SAINTHOOd once i die, been a bad boy a lot many times ..
but then as my Will says I want to be set on fire and dont want anyone present and then my ashes sprinkled on our land..
and hopefully if this wish is carried out there will be NO ONe to lecture or say anything .. :)
now thats a good idea ..


KParthasarathi said...

It is customary not to speak ill of the death.Their sins go with them into their grave.That is perhaps the reason for people to indulge in hyperbole when praising the departed.
An amusing post with funny epitaphs

Mélange said...

I was twelve when this man,our neighbour's sudden demise took place.Since he belonged to a particular community who had rituals every evening climaxing in food,it was a usual scene people coming and going.One day this lady,one of his relative whom he had a big quarrel the previous week,came carrying a big jack fruit.She was weeping and in between lamenting(shouting I must say).I still couldn't forget those words.He asked for this jack fruit one week back.I couldn't give.But tonight I am obliged to" was the gist of what she said.

What more to say ?

kavita said...

For the last few years in my part of world i am witnessing a new trend of publishing a booklet in the memory of the deceased .I have got few such booklets with me .Wrote a post on it two years back - http://www.kavitasaharia-myroom.com/2009/08/thirteen-days.html

anilkurup said...

A All

I'm afraid that the matter I wanted to convey was insufficiently narrated or conveyed that the comments were mostly centring around personal losses and anecdotes from ones experience of death and the after .
However I wanted to discuss on the frivolity of eulogies that are often heard after demise of a person. That while he/she was alive nothing else but opprobrium was showered and least respected and vice versa.

@ NRIgirl,

I can feel your anguish.You loved him and still do. Those memories may lessen the terrible haunt you get.

@ Bikramjit,

Good that you decide to not leave your carbon footprint by spraying your ashes all over. The practise is ridiculous.

@ Kparthasarathi

Yes I can agree with your point of not to speak ill of the ones who have gone.Better that way if one has not spoken good while they were around.


Yes such matters sometimes revisit us to make us uncomfortable. I remember my uncle , Mom's brother pleading with her for more Chappathis ( he was obese) and Mom refused to give him beyond his quota. And he died suddenly a week or so after. She rued her stubbornness later.

@ Kavita,

Well no harm in reminiscing good about the dead. Booklet or otherwise. I think so. Especially when the deceased was a virtuous soul

adithyasaravana said...

i think i would limit myself to few words..
hmmm..more than the post itself, the replies for the comment made me smile..
this part of the country, there are ppl who are employed to sing the praises..when in karnataka, KGF, it was a peculiar place, where the deceased would be sent with much fanfare..and free booze, sometimes seemed to amuse others.. those who really miss would be left behind at home..
eulogies, I haven't seen.. maybe not even one..
but , if I have to stand back and see.. what happens after me.. I would say that it would not be that peaceful..
this is not like a wedding reception photo, to look at a later date to see who has attended and who has not..at least we have a chance to react to their presence or absence..( or maybe the gifts)

Shilpa Garg said...

OMG!! The wife's tribute is way tooooo much! :D :D
I am sure, people might be desperate to say nothing but the truth but as one never speaks bad abt a person in death, so it's True Lies!
LOL @ "You will wonder why your mother , your wife or husband did not notice these conspicuous qualities while you were walking around in flesh and blood"

anilkurup said...

@ Adityasarvanan,

Traditions are many , as you mentioned briefly. Employing people to sing in praise of the deceased and so on.
But I was amused by the human cunning that involves in eulogy.

@ Shilpa Garg
Not to speak ill of the dead, ok. fine at least at the service.
But if one could see and hear after departing , one is sure to have a mixed feelings hearing the eulogies.

Daniel said...

I think no one speaks bad about a the dead person during funeral or immediately after his death to make the ones who are really affected feel good; saying something bad will be like adding fuel to the fire. One cannot also punish the dead person in case he has offended someone and how it's going to help if we have to tell some ill truth.. I think culture evolved to minimize certain discomforts at certain critical situations in life but the same culture has also created a lot of trouble.. Observing silence when someone is dead is peaceful..

anilkurup said...

@ Daniel,
Certainly, to speak ill about the dead is lacking in grace or etiquette.Only because it will be a one way broadside.

But I was trying to explore the fake spirit of eulogies. Perhaps better not to speak and better than eulogising a scoundrel or vilifying a virtuous.