Our large home was run over with guests
most of whom I had neither seen nor met
but such was the force of personality of my grandfather
people from far- flung areas had come to pay him last respects.
Mild-mannered but with a spine of steel
a connoisseur of food
a stern dad but a doting grandfather
his passion for movies, he persued with zeal.
My mom was running around harried and tired
making everyone comfortable, bone-weary though she was
dad was red-eyed yet composed
coming to terms with the fact, his father had expired.
Though surrounded by women, grandmother was all alone
being commiserated over her loss
she was a feisty woman but that day she sat
silent and distant, as if carved out of stone.
There were scores of children, running all over
unaware of the gravity of situation
elders tried to keep them quiet
but those tykes were no pushovers.
Since last night when grandfather had passed away
no one in the immediate family had eaten a morsel
he was of the ripe old age of ninety
so a grand feast (after his cremation) was underway.
The priest called for my uncle; the eldest son
as preparations for final rites were being made
everyone looked high and low
where could he have disappeared, for this was just not done!
Upset at his absence, my grandmother bellowed his name
out came he from the pantry, all flustered
his mouth stuffed, naan in his hand
contrite and embarrassed; his face red with shame
“I just went to check that the seasoning is alright”, he stuttered
as grandfather’s favourite food was being prepared
uncle’s rumbling stomach couldn’t resist the aromas
and he had reached for the hot naan buttered!
All gathered burst into stifled smirking fits
shaking their heads and clucking in disapproval
my grandmother too could not help smiling
my uncle, too flabbergasted to gather his wits.
My practical grandmother immediately made an announcement
there and then, putting her grief aside
henceforth there would be no fasting in our family
come death or any other bereavement.
Thanks to my uncle and his insatiable hunger
on that somber day of cremation
at every solemn occasion of death in the family
with a smile as homage, our grandfather we all remember.
Written for dVerse poetics. Today’s host, Mish, has asked us to write a poem commemorating a loved one we have lost, in the spirit of Dia De Los Muertos, the “Day of the Dead”.
*According to our scriptures, cremation cannot take place after sunset. As long as the dead body is at home, fire cannot be lighted, hence no cooking. Thus neighbours and friends chip in and bring food and beverages for the bereaved family till the cremation takes place.