It has been a couple days now since the funeral. I have been wanting to write about it but every time I start… I can't get myself going. My heart feels heavy, I can't imagine what it feels like for Jow, Sha, Shahan, Shameme…
*here's me stalling again, I am going to get some breakfast*
Okay I'm back. We left JHB at about 5:30pm and arrived in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday night at around 9:30pm, went straight to Uncle Jash's home. There were people there that I knew and people that I didn't know. Got ushered to his bedroom where they lay his body after finding him. The sadness and feeling of loss in the room was… … I cried… we all cried… Shahan just held his dad and cried… My gran was there, devastated, her eldest son died before her. He was so thin, just skin and bone. The funeral parlour collected the body at 10pm. During the next hour or two people recounted their stories. Raj told us how he scaled the gate with his ladder, kicked the front door down to get to Jash who was out on the kitchen floor facedown. It may have been an hour before Raj got to him that he died.
The following day we re-convened at the house. People were in and out paying their respects to the family. At funerals despite the grieving and sadness and loss, there always tends be reunions with family members that have not seen each other since the last funeral or wedding, aunts and uncles that only remember you as a child. Out of respect I had left my camera at home, but now that I think about it I should have had it there… for those moments standing outside in the cold, in a circle smoking chatting, recounting tales of Jashwin, the family, back-in-the-day stories and times.
Shameme mentioned that I should have had it and when I told her my reasons for leaving it behind she said that we are not a conventional family. She is right.
My generation and even my parent's generation have lost their traditions, their religion. No one really had an inkling of what should have been done for the funeral, the prayers, the hawans. There were others in the extended family and some of the older generation that guided us along. Come to think of it though, considering that my parent's generation, Jashwin, us are not and were not religious and we should have created it the way he may have wanted it. In some way we did. On the day of the funeral when the body was brought back to the home, inbetween the old aunties singing their hindi bhajans and prayers, the children played their dad's favourite Crosby, Stills & Nash song to a photo slideshow of Jash and his family. On the spur of the moment, Shahan played guitar while Shahir sang a song to their father (which completely brought everyone to tears more than the prayers and hindi songs that were meaningless to us). Jash sure did love his music.
Jash's body was then taken to the Arya Samaj hall in Khan Road for the public funeral service. The hall was packed. Jow'hara and Shahir did the eulogy. One of Jash's colleagues from Tiger brands also said a few words to the congregation. There was a senior member of the indian community who also spoke (he spoke almost vehemently in Hindi and most of us did not understand a word and wondered what the hell he was going on about). The pandit did her prayers and had everyone reciting mantras after her (words which I did not understand, words which were meaningless to me).
From the hall to the crematorium on Greytown road across from Northdale hospital. The last time I was there was for my Dada's funeral (my dad's father) in 1998. More mantras, more people paying their last respects. A prayer from Shahan to his father which had everyone in tears. The small back-room of the crematorium for only the immediate family. Not too long ago only men were allowed at the crematorium. The lid of the coffin is removed, one last goodbye to Jashwin. His face is respectfully covered with a cloth. One last ritual and prayer. Rose petals and prayer mix. Camphor is lit and put in the coffin on different parts of his body. The coffin is pushed into the furnace. The furnace door is closed.