A Death in the Neighbourhood

It was 11 in the morning. Both me and Mukesh were working, busy on our individual laptops. A Pomodoro clock was running on my system. It helps me focus sharply. Since right across my balcony is a big agricultural field, I could listen to the birds chirping, pigeons making their usual chaos of heavy fluttering, and occasional calls of the cows.

It was peaceful to work. Until out of nowhere there came the sound of many women crying and wailing.

I couldn’t make out where is the sound coming from. As the sound increased, inquisitiveness grew exponentially within me. I checked from my balcony and saw the courtyard house across. This house is always running and active. But there was no one today. I had never seen it so abandoned ever before. And then came 4-5 women, their heads covered with the red stole they wore in coordination with the red saari. These women were wailing on the road and were marching towards another house, next to the courtyard house. It looked like a procession.

Their grieving was hard for me to process. It may have been a personal loss, but the mode of grieving made it a public one. But before I could judge and evaluate this experience further, it clicked to me, I had never witnessed a house going through a loss. I lost my grandparents in the last few years, but couldn’t attend their last minutes in the world. So who am I to pass judgment on grieving, loss, and sense of being abandoned.

However, this method of grieving was difficult for me to comprehend. I later realized that they may have been Rudaali, women who are hired to express grief over the death of a person in anyone else’s home. This is part of the tradition here! That’s how diverse India is.

May the one who lost his life rest in peace. I hope you know that there were many who cried for you once you were gone. I hope while you were alive you knew how important your being there was to many.

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