Have you ever been to a funeral? Excuse my frank, albeit at times rather insensitive, remarks about the occasion. In my recent experience, I had come to the conclusion that more than 90% of those tear-stricken faces are portraying a facade. Undoubtedly, the close family mourns the loss deeply. However, a major portion of relatives, who come to “show respect” to the departed, do everything but mourn. Or perhaps, my family falls under this category. If you haven’t hated me with my forward comments, you would soon begin to hate me. Whatever! I never bothered about your opinion, why should I start doing it now? Particularly on the day, when I received two mind-blowing superpowers from God.
I woke up this morning and found myself in the most miserable place, ever: at a funeral. I could hear voices from all around me. While some voices were of genuine concern and grief, a large number of the voices had nothing to do with the sad occasion. “Were people allowed to voice such disturbing opinion about the departed and their family?” I mumbled. When I heard a man talk about using the loo just to find a moment of peace from the drama — his words, not mine — I just had to look in his direction. Obviously, a disrespectful comment of this degree would receive a rightful retort from somebody. And, I did not wish to miss the fun.
To my utter disappointment, nobody bothered to even throw him a glance. Yet, he continued his prattle with no objection from anybody. He was voicing all sorts of complaints — irrelevant and disrespectful criticism. “If nobody would create a scene…erm, I mean…put him in his right place, I would have to do it myself,” I decided. With three long strides, I reached near him.
“You should be ashamed of yourself. This is no time to think about yourself. Just because nobody is saying anything for the sake of this occasion, that does not give you a right to talk about loo, for god’s sake,” I scolded him in one of the reserved voices that I use for putting the young crowd to their rightful place. I’ve had eighty-two years’ worth of experience, after all. Yet, the man showed no sign of remorse. In fact, he didn’t even acknowledge or glance in my direction, for that matter. “What a despicable human….wait a minute,” I stopped my train of thoughts. I scratched my gray beard, a habit rather than a need, I focused on the people surrounding me. Finally, I had a light-bulb moment.
For some inexplicable reason, they could neither see me nor hear me. I, on the other hand, was privy to their innermost thoughts. What fun! For the most part, I had never cared about anybody, apart from my eldest son and the two beautiful daughters of my middle son. Other than those selected few, I didn’t give two hoots about anybody. Judging by the abominable behavior displayed by the people gathered here, I was proud of my decision. Now that I had a couple of useful superpowers, I intended on cashing these well.
I directed my attention to my wife. On the outside, she had put on the face of a distressed woman. Man, she was an ugly crier. She never loved me. To be fair, I never loved her either. Ours was a loveless marriage, by all accounts. Although I had found love elsewhere, I doubt she found any. I wondered if she would cry at my funeral. Obviously, she would. She had been a marvelous actress, not professionally, though. Time to really know the woman from the inside! Ignoring the chatter from around me, I concentrated on her thoughts.
“How long should I continue wailing? I am absolutely parched. Why is nobody offering water, yet? Useless, all of them.”
“Ha! What did I tell you? An actress!” I felt my lips curl upward in amusement. As soon as I let my focus fade away, I sensed a range of emotions. Do you know what the majority of people felt at this funeral? One would believe, in a setting like this, the overbearing sentiment to be that of despair. Yet, the truth could not be further from the truth. The overwhelming feeling, wait for the figurative drum-roll to subside, was boredom. They were so very bored. Want a peek into their private musings? Call me your genie, and I’d fulfill your wishes. Here was their mindless jibber-jabber:
“Who will get this mansion, now that the old…..what is the man-version of hag…….whatever is dead?”
“Would there be food after the ceremony?”
“I really should have waxed my hands, yesterday. I’ll never procrastinate my waxing, ever again.”
“I must call my kids and tell them to cook Maggi for themselves. There is no way that I’ll go back and cook. I am too tired. Pretending to be heartbroken should be a full-time job.”
“She is not sad. I can see that in her eyes. There are no tears. Only crying sound.”
“Were there no cute girls in this family? There are only old cronies everywhere I look.”
“Is that guy actually staring at me? It’s a funeral, not a speed dating event.”
“Did she get a facial before getting here? That’s more disrespectful than actually spitting at the body.”
“I never should have argued with him. In my defense, he denied paying my admission fee. He, who always made a big deal out of my academic achievements, denied my only chance at an honorable future. Nevertheless, I still love him. I only stopped talking to him to teach him a lesson. How could God just take him away?”
Hold on! Did I just hear a sensible emotion in this godforsaken funeral? To find the source of the only appropriate pondering, I turned my gaze over my shoulder. Baffled at the sight of a very disoriented girl, I went near her. Although she wasn’t openly crying, like other pretentious rascals, her misty eyes were hollow. She was here, yet so far away in her head. Her agony cut through my heart like a blade. That was my granddaughter, Aliana.
Whose death could affect her so badly? Oh dear God, who the hell died? As the face of the body was covered with a white sheet, I tried to listen to other people’s thoughts to get the answer. The funeral, which amused me just a few minutes ago, was making my blood run cold. I had to get the answers. Did my son die? What had happened? I turned toward my favorite son to pacify my fears. Definitely, his thoughts would be pertinent. I scanned his face and thoughts intently.
“Where has he left the will? I nagged him repeatedly to put my name as the owner of this house. How many times did we entertain that sad excuse of a dad in our house? All in vain! This mansion should rightfully go to me. Should I call a lawyer and seek his counsel? What happens if a man dies without writing a will? Although Samir along with his stupid daughters and wife lived with dad, the place cannot be assumed to belong to him? Can it? I really must call my lawyer.” With these loathsome inner dialogues, he excused himself to use the washroom.
I knew what he was going to do in the washroom. And that had nothing to do with nature’s call. Despite his revolting brooding, he said something that horrified me. “Did he just say ‘dad?’ No, that can’t be right,” I was panicking now. These superpowers that empowered me felt like a noose around my neck at that moment. Just then, a gust of wind blew the sheet that covered the corpse. It was me! I was dead. That didn’t make any sense. I had so much to do. My boy, the only person other than my granddaughters, whom I loved more than life itself only pretended to love me. That could not be true. I would have sensed his true colors. Evidently, not! I had built him a house. Still, he faked his affection to get this house, too. What a bad seed he turned out to be.
Worst of all, under his influence, I denied my granddaughter her admission fee. Like a snake, he filled my head with a farcical notion that Samir would use the money for yet another bound-to-fail business venture. And I believed him. That sick scoundrel! I hurt the only person, who really loved me, to please this callous man. In an attempt to correct my misdeed, I rushed toward Aliana. I had to tell her about the secret compartment in my closet. She would find all the money she wanted in that place.
“Aliana! Aliana! Can you hear me?” I shouted in her ears. There was no sign in those misty eyes that suggested her awareness of my presence. All of a sudden, tears broke free from her beautiful eyes. I wanted to wipe those tears. Despite my desperate attempts, I could not touch her face. Unexpectedly, I felt a sheer force tug at my body. I was being pulled away from the funeral by an invisible force. Helplessly, I screamed for help. There was no help. Four people, two of whom were my sons, had lifted my body on their shoulders and were taking it away. I realized my time was up. I could not right my wrongs and, most definitely, could not share my true feelings with anyone. On the whole, I had wasted my life and there was no turning back.
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