Nothing could have prepared Praveena for the days that followed. The funeral was held in their house. Geetha was in a glass box, set the living room where the couch used to sit. Seeing her mother laying there lifeless, Praveena painfully thought back to the conversations the two of them had had, sitting on the couch, sipping hot tea. Such a bad case of nostalgia overcame her that she couldn’t bear the thought of facing the ceremony.
She retreated to her room, as the house filled up with friends and relatives she didn’t know her mother had had. She had met none of them during these thirteen years of her life. But everyone seemed to know her. There was a group of old women who sat in a circle weeping and mourning. Looking at them, Praveena felt a sense of dread and hatred rise within her. ‘Who are these people, and why are they lamenting my mother?’ her anger flared, ‘Where were these people when she needed them most — when she was sick?’
Praveena looked at them with contempt as they all line up to pay their respects to a body they hadn’t bothered to call on when she lived. They, on the other hand, misunderstood her annoyance for sadness.
But Praveena was far from sad; she was mourning her mother more than anyone else ever would in a lifetime, but she was more worried at their pretense. They all seemed to care.
A middle aged woman had walked over to Praveena earlier. Showing all her betel-stained teeth, she had said, “Don’t you worry little girl. Everything’s going to be alright. What’s your name, again?”
Praveena thought she must have tried to console her, but she sounded far from it. They were nothing more than empty words. Praveena could say the woman was being civilized and well mannered; she meant non of her words, her false smile was too easy to see through. She was not the only one though, everyone showed they cared, in a way that proved they didn’t.
Parveena had had enough. She went to her room, locked herself inside and sat cross-legged on the bed. She wanted to cry but didn’t. A mix of emotions ran amok inside her head. She didn’t know what to feel. Her mother had gone, leaving Praveena and her father with civilized animals who lived to please others and worried only about their social status.
She shook her head in exasperation. “Why is everybody so bad?” she wondered a little too loud and angry.
‘That’s the nature of people, you’ll have to live with it’ It was her inner voice again.
“Stupid people, don’t you think?” Parveena questioned. She had gotten used to conversing with her inner voices. Alone now, she could speak aloud to herself without people thinking she had gone mad with grief.
‘Yes.’ It was so simple. People are stupid. They do stupid things for stupid reasons. It’s human. But people are also selfish and greedy and evil. That’s not human; that’s a choice. Somewhere along the way, people tend to give in to the temptation of greed.
‘Why though?’ Praveena wondered. ‘Why do people want more than they already have? Why aren’t people ever happy?’
It’s the kind of conversation she would have had with her mother. Now she’d have it with herself.
‘We are raised to believe that we are better than other creatures.’
Her inner voice had given her the answer. “True”, she agreed, we believe that we are better than other animals, and in the same way, we tend to believe that we are higher than other humans. We love to show our power over them, just to prove our belief. “How stupid of us.” She exclaimed in conclusion, shaking her head.
Suddenly, she felt like sharing this with someone. “Ma!” she called out without thinking.
Reality came crashing down on her head.
‘Ma is dead.’ — Inner voice again.
Praveena held her head in her hands, her excitement ebbing away. She lay back on her bed, eyes wide open and mind racing.
‘You look for answers outside, when you already have it within you. Look deep enough, and you’ll find it.’
Praveena silently agreed, staring at the swirling fan.
National Blog Posting Month – Day 12