Speak now and forever hold your peace

I wish the dead could speak. I don’t want to listen to family members talk about how much it hurts that they are gone. Or whatever their friends have to say about all they have left behind. Instead, I seek to find what went through their minds during the last few minutes of their lives. And I want to hear about it from them.

I dearly hope there was some pleasantness in the process. Perhaps, a well-produced vignette, capturing some of the best moments of their lives. A beautiful and haunting cello composition that picked up its pace for the second half. Faces of children, lovers, and pets. Sound-bites of promises kept. Pencil sketches of childhood vacations.

Sunrise, Vedanthangal

The poster on the bedroom wall. The second kiss that meant so much. The feeling of how someone’s palm always felt safe, no matter how wrinkled it was.

Mom. Dad.

When they first fell off a bicycle and realized, the hard way, that “wounds make better lessons than lectures”.

How frightening and exciting it was to realize just how far away the stars were from their bedrooms.

The vastness of the hills, the aloneness of the ocean.

A sunset.

A Black Eagle disappearing above the clouds. A House Sparrow outside the front door in search of a melody. A sky filled with Swifts, Swallows and Dusky Craig Martins practicing for the big dance at night. The last time the morning sun shone a light on the iridescent plumage of a sunbird.

Every beautiful thing that ever mattered.

I would like to think that it all just came back for a short while. Just enough for them to sense a warm glow permeating through their insides.

They may not have been physically capable of smiling wide. But their hearts would have erupted with joys, large and small, that gave meaning and purpose to the lives they had led.

Munnar Road

I know I can’t be sure of any of this. The truth may even be bitter.

They might have just felt a lot of pain, sadness and fear before fading away. The frantic knocking on doors. A piercing whistle. The loud crackling of bones. It could have been very scary. And the only reprise might have been that it was over soon.

But I don’t want to think of dying that way.

Hope, as fragile it can be, does lend itself to some interesting conclusions.

Before 1897, people thought that atoms were the tiniest things that ever existed. Maybe someday in the distant future, when we are dead and gone, others would discover that death has its moments. It’s not all that bad.

It’s why I want the departed to come back just for a while.

I want to find out what it means to be alive one second and gone forever — the next. And whether some part of it feels alright.

Crimson-Backed Sunbird, Thattekad

(Photographs: Chennai, Vedanthangal, Munnar, Kodaikanal, Palani Hills)

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28 comments

  1. Melancholy yet absorbing thoughts, words offered from a place of deep feeling. Again, I am touched by the honesty and frailty of your humanity and comforted to know we are brothers living, however briefly, in the same Universe.

    Hugs across the cosmos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this beautiful piece Christy! You’ve really brought alive what it means to be alive. I sometimes wonder if we live more through and in our memories than we do when reality unfolds in front of us. And then there is something to be said for the pauses, and the quiet times between the carefully chosen events that get tucked away in our memories. Anyway thanks for sharing – it opened a flood gate of questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lakshmi. I am glad it resonated with you, and made you ponder about it some more. I feel tepid talking about death without internalizing it based on my own experiences. I know only what I feel about it, the rest is but a fleeting mystery.

      Thank you again for stopping by.

      Like

  3. The death of Ivan Ilych..those last few lines by the great Tolstoy

    “He sought his former accustomed fear of death and did not find it. “Where is it? What death?” There was no fear because there was no death.

    In place of death there was light.”

    Well written and lovely photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No matter how much one prepares for it, I think we’re mostly unprepared, either as the person going, or the one left behind.
    There is so much to hope for, that is what I take away from your write. The thoughts, the ordinary moments which become special in that moment of truth/death. Indeed, what must it all be? That transition?
    Missed reading from you. Ah. The pressures of being part of a work-force where there is both force and work, at times that cloud Life. Glad to be here. And with such a profound read too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You write of brining back the dead for a bit. I’d like to know what they go through or feel when they are in ‘Bardo’. I believe this is where the dead connect with their true selves, deeply and honestly. Beautiful post as always. Or perhaps what goes on in one’s mind when they jump off a cliff – I suppose that is reasonably easy to find from those who survive that fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you shru. What a wonderful piece of knowledge it would be to acquire – what goes through their minds.

      I too believe that there is serendipitous connection between the dead and the love they leave behind.

      Like

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