“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Door to Tranquility

One of the best designed landscapes in our city is the electric crematorium at Thycaud. It is called 'Santhi – kavaadam' or the door to tranquility.

My 6-year old grandnephew gripped my hand. We were standing behind my nephew who was about to start the last rituals. Attired in a wet dhoti with a band of red cloth tied around his waist, my nephew stood still. Then one of the assistants pulled out a thread from his father's dhoti and tied it to his. Behind him, we stood touching the one in front with our hands. And then the assistant broke the thread. The symbolic end to what connected the dead person and the rest of us.

On top of the white shroud that covered my brother-in-law, a handfull Vettiver roots lay. A few pieces of sandalwood were strewn over. A lump of camphor was kept on it and lit by my nephew. As the camphor caught fire, the door of the electric crematorium lifted up with a groan. Though we stood a good 5 mts away, the blast of heat from the furnace reddened our faces. Then the trolly on which the body lay was slowly pushed forward.
How eager were the flames! How quickly it ate up the red pattu, the white shroud that covered my brother-in-law! The door came down and ground to the concrete floor.

Shanku, my little grandnephew I love so much, tugged my arm and asked me – 'Can I ask you a secret question?' Shanku is always sharing secrets with me. 'What happens to Appooppan ( grandpa) now? Will he turn to ashes?'

I stand before many. Parents of my friends, my own mother, relatives, friends, young men – once, even a little 2-year old. In the hollow, worthless knowledge that nothing exists beyond that door, in the barren, arid,  comfortless zone where no fake beliefs and holy men and religions dare to step forward to me in pretensions of solace, in that state of limbo, I caress Shanku's head, bend down and kiss him.

********* Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 21-07-2011


  1. It was like reading,no, the build up and finally when these words shook me
    " In the hollow, worthless knowledge that nothing exists beyond that door, in the barren, arid, comfortless zone where no fake beliefs and holy men and religions dare to step forward to me in pretensions of solace, in that state of limboead those lines" and suddenly I feel that I am handful ash..the grey dreams..Nothing but nothing.

  2. Because you are a Kabir fan
    “Paani kera bulbula, as manus ki jaat; Dekhat hi chip jayega, jyuon tara parbhat.”
    “Like a water bubble, is human life-form;
    Just like the morning star that disappears in a blink.”

  3. Mr B - Awesome post and I could see myself standing by your side.

    I have the same question shanku asked, but on a suggestive note.. wouldn't there be a chance that the real life really starts at death? I do have no clue what lies ahead, there is this complete ignorance and isn't that what we are all afraid of, for ourselves and our dear ones?

  4. The unknown is what we are scared of isnt it?

    Your last few lines are hard-hitting. The holy men, beliefs are all fake; yet we are comfortable with them. But this unknown makes us so uncomfortable.

    About the crematorium, it really looks 'inviting'.

  5. I dont know what to say .. had tears reminded me of the day 25th july when papa passed away ..

    no wonder they say all we need end of the day is do gaz zameen..

    we are all in a mad rush and end of the day thats all where we are heading ..


  6. Turna sab ne waro waari
    Aj nahin taan Bhalke tyari

    Naal Dam de kahdi yaari
    Dam da ki Vasaah...

  7. If we believe there is nothing after the fire and ashes,then life becomes meaningless.The hope for something better to come,is what gives us the courage to face death.
    These are all matters of personal beliefs.

  8. @kavita: Thanks for the Kabir. I have never been moved by another man's words as I have been by Kabir's. Did you get Prahlad Tipanya's songs?

    @Doc: Yup. Personal - beliefs.

    @Bikram: June & July are my months of loss too...

    @B: You always have a choice; live with uncomfortable truths or comforting lies.

    @Ousu: We take the lives of millions of creatures every day, but do not fret or claim faith that there is an afterlife for them. But we have to be different, haven't we? Created in God's own image? Heaven, hell and rebirths are only for humanity. Look at the 'why' of an afterlife. You will our fear of death. Look at it. Accept it. But do not accept lies.

    Melange: There is only calm acceptance of death here. I have seen the same in the burning ghats of Varanasi...

    @Venu: Not as intense as the fire...

  9. "Nothing exists beyond that door...". You are right, quite true indeed. At least as far as we know. And to fret, fight, fume, run after Gods, Godmen, get kissed and hugged by mortal Gods, dose it make any sense? Call it blind faith, it is a misnomer- faith can only be faith - conviction cannot be blind. If it is blind it is like flying a rickety bi-plane.Confronting a rogue elephant with a rook rifle!
    Being blind one always has an excuse.That is an advantage.
    In any case I have told C that if I do not outlive her dont barbecue me , but to consign what is left of the lifeless flesh and bones to the cadaver hungry medical school.

    Astonishingly the Crematorium -the landscape looks great. Trivandumites value crematorium more than any other.

  10. Kumar Group designed it..i guess..looks interesting. Atleast the first image..

    Sorry for your loss..and yes , sometimes these subtle reminders of the inevitable helps us live better..


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