Corona times are unfair to life, and in death
Death is inevitable. But in these corona times, a new order has been set in the rituals of death. I got this queasy feeling soon after hearing the news of actor Irrfan Khan last month-end. I’m conditioned to seeing a funeral procession of public figures such as an actor or a politician on television for closure. The absence of it left me distraught.
As someone who didn’t know Irrfan personally, watching the last rites being broadcast is the way I’m conditioned to bidding farewell to a public figure. Sadly, there was none of it, except the news that he had died. His demise fuelled the irony that corona times are not only unfair to life but also in death.
Shouldn’t the final send-off be befitting to the deceased’s stature? The answer is, yes. But curfews, lockdowns and social distancing norms have taken away the sombre romanticism associated with final farewells. They have vanquished traditional send-offs and brought in a new order where death has been rendered to just another event.
Before I could finish mourning Irrfan’s death, along came the news of the demise of actor Rishi Kapoor on April 30. The second consecutive bad news also made me realise that these two deaths had suddenly given a face to the nameless despondency that everyone was going through. They gave a vent as I’ve never seen the world unite like this on social media to offer condolences.
The outpouring conjured a befitting farewell to the two actors. I started seeing social media posts as a funeral procession. I felt flowers were being replaced by words, prayer meetings with silent prayers, and eulogies by Facebook and Twitter obituaries; very different to the traditional send-offs.
In the West, people invest in funeral funds because everyone wants their life to be looked at as a celebration at the time of their death. Some even choose their place of burial. Alas! A new, equal order has been set. For instance, the funeral procession of a friend’s father around the same time had the same number of people as the two celebrities. That death is a leveller never rung so true!
With strict laws in place, the number of people allowed has automatically brought the number to the people who matter in your life. Maybe that’s how it should be, but I think, even people who go to funerals merely to mark their attendance play a role. It feels sad not to be able to offer condolences personally to friends who have faced death in their family during the lockdown. No words can ever replace a loving hug, an assuring pat or a shoulder to cry on. Grief is something that needs to be shared with humans not on virtual screens.
As much as I’m searching for answers to this new normal, I think Yamraj should follow the rules of the lockdown and postpone his commitments until we can meet our friends and share their grief.
I’m still not convinced with this new order in death.
YAMRAJ SHOULD FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE LOCKDOWN TOO AND POSTPONE HIS COMMITMENTS UNTIL WE CAN MEET OUR FRIENDS TO SHARE THEIR GRIEF