The message of the dead

At a funeral... I learnt a lesson that day, the message of the dead. This is the message of the dead that everybody must learn.

 

The bodies burnt turns to ashes, and those that are buried kisses and ends up with the soil underneath.

Who knows where the dead go? Who knows what remains of a life when one stops to breathe? Who knows what happens to the bodies that are burnt and the coffins that are buried? Who knows what happens to us after we die? Who has seen it? Who can prove it? Who has gone to the Dead and came back alive? Who has seen the soul? Or who knows they have one?

Different people have different stories and myths, and systems of beliefs and creeds. But most of the major religions of the world believe that there is life after death. Maybe or maybe not, I don’t know, I haven’t seen it. Maybe if beliefs are essentially facts, then maybe we will live again a life after we die –a life after death. But for now, I don’t know. I don’t know what happens to us after we die. All I know is that the dead have a lesson for all.

The other day I was at a funeral, a man who was in his fifties died of prolonged illness. My friends and I were digging the grave. As I sat by the grave, staring down the depth of the grave, I was lost into thoughts. I was thinking about death. I was thinking about life. How do we simply come and go –live a life that we don’t know how to live and die a death we don’t know how to take? I was lost in the thought of life and death, but my mind wouldn’t comprehend –why do we die, and what happens to us then?

In the grave, they brought the lifeless body of the man. As the young men who were carrying the coffin lowered it into the grave, his wife was whimpering and reaching her hand out towards the coffin. His children were silently weeping, holding their mother as if they were utterly confused why. In the grave, the coffin laid still, the lifeless body of a man: a husband, a father and a friend, who was dearly missed but forever gone. The pain and emptiness in his wife and the loneliness in his children makes me think that if I could, I would bring him back to life.

And before the burial procession started, I was watching at the coffin and thought of the man. He was alive, I thought, just like me but now he lays in the coffin, still and lifeless. How simple is life when one moment can bring a change forever, when one moment can separate us forever as the living and the dead, each unaware of the other. Because the other night he slept with his family, but since that night, he will sleep with the cold and sing and dance with the dark and the unknown. How simply can death change it all?

Life is simply unfair, or so I believe, because the man died simply because he was poor. His house was half standing and half ready to fall. Of course he had laid a foundation to build his better house with all his effort, but what comes when the system doesn’t give opportunities to all. When one seeks for luxury, it pains me and baffles me to see one helplessly starving hard to survive. When one seeks for power, it pains me to see one becoming a victim to power and privileges he will never get to enjoy.

The pastor finished his prayer, but the wife still called, and the children still stood by the grave. If only the man could come back to life, but now the once loving husband and father could no longer console.

I learnt a lesson that day, “the message of the dead”. This is the message of the dead that everybody must learn: The old and young, the wise and the ordinary, and the rich and poor, death awaits us all. And nothing else that we worship is truly as much worth as to love and to live while we can. 

It pains me to think that I will someday lose a beloved, but I've learnt to love them more and help them live and help myself.

First Published:Aug. 11, 2020, 5:15 p.m.