Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The human connection

A long rail bridge across Ganga separated me from rest of the world. After a tiring second class journey the train dropped me in this historical city of chaos and colours. Between life and death it stands, giving thousands of men and women a promise of solace. 

After a quick face wash I set off for an early morning stroll towards the river. Mist was still in the air and my watch was showing half past four. First light of the day was slowly appearing in the eastern horizon. Crossing narrow streets and dark corridors, I entered an open space; the sandy banks of river Ganga. The air was filled with an unfamiliar and unpleasant odour. Unknown people from unknown places were walking here and there. Three men were dipping a rat trap in the river, liberating the soul of an unfortunate rat fooled by the bait.

I walked directionless till something stopped me. Here in front of my eyes lies a human being without the vibrations of life, fully draped in plain white cloth without even an inch of the body visible to the outside world. On a pile of wood it lied, getting ready to be eaten by mighty flames. Abandoned flowers and glitter paper that adorned the body till a few minutes back were lying around. A few goats were eating those abandoned flowers. An old woman was collecting the cheap silk cloth that was used to decorate the dead. It is going to end up in one of the second sale shops in that city to give the final send off to another dead.

The flames from the burning wood started eating up that body like a hungry predator. Molten fat was flowing to the ground like a small stream. Two men came forward, carrying long wooden poles, as if they couldn’t wait anymore. They started beating that burning body to make it in to fine pieces so that it would burn fast. For the poor relatives of that dead body saving fuel wood means saving few bucks. Crows and other birds were flying high over the thick smoke. Soon that body became fine grey powder. There was no way to know whether it was a man or woman, or a young or old. For a moment I felt a connection to that unknown dead, a connection of having the common destiny. Few drops of tears fell on the sandy bank of Ganga. I had to keep walking. Another morning was slowly beginning for rest of the world.