Generally, funerals are perceived as a gloomy affair. For someone who attends a funeral for the first time, there is usually a mass of serious faces, hushed whispers, and a somber atmosphere. At the first glance, one can see people hunched together in groups whispering amongst themselves and nodding their heads. But if you paid more attention to the gathering, one could see the division of groups that sat in small circles, consisting people of the same age group. One group consists of the elders of the family discussing expenses and among them, there is always one Mr. Know-all who pretends to know every ritual and age old customs for all the ceremonies even though he would just cook it up instantly.
Then, there are members of the community discussing the present political schemes in comparison with the political agenda of the pre-independence period. They discuss budgets in crores even though many of them would have borrowed money for tobacco.
Inevitably, there is always a loud mouthed politician accompanied by his unavoidable henchmen, shaking hands with everyone and consoling the family members who don’t need any consolation. If you paid attentions to the topic of discussion, it would usually be one of the political scheme or a plan that none of them have any role to play. One was heard saying “it was a ridiculous to initiate a bus service across the border of our country into the neighboring country. After all, they are our enemies. Isn’t it like inviting them over? Had it been me, I would have built a wall across the border and stopped all infiltration”. A farmer who didn’t put up a fence around his farm to stop stray animals wandering into the field, talks about building a wall across the countries borders.
The teenagers are all found huddled in the far corner with a serious discussion in progress, and if one got close to the group, you would see an array of mobile phones and random words like memory card, mega pixels, night vision cameras, dual sim, multiple point touch screen etc. The purpose of a phone to communicate with one another is completely obsolete with these youngsters.
The women folk are another matter altogether. They are usually found hovering about the kitchen and the dining area, instructing the servants about serving refreshments and preparing food for everyone. But more serious discussions are about a certain woman in one of the TV soaps being harassed by her mother in law, or more importantly, will the woman recognize her long lost daughter who works as a maid in the same house?
Each time a new person or a family comes in to offer condolences there is a sudden flurry of activity. There is a sudden hush that settles on everyone, while the men nod to each other, the women burst out in new episode of tears and forced hysteria, and the children look around and giggle, while there is always a child in the vicinity who is constantly wailing.
The exchange of greetings and pleasantries of “how are you” now seems to have been altered to “How is your diabetes? What is your cholesterol count? Once this formality is done, the new guest joins the respective group and in a few minutes things are back to normal till a new person arrives. Perhaps the only person who plays the role truthfully is the one for the person the funeral is held for.