The beautician is busy getting it ready for the funeral later today, befitting a rich and powerful man’s father. Beauty creams are being applied, and the room reeks of perfumes. Hair, whatever is left on the head, is oiled and combed. There is a new pair of shoes on the feet, white gloves on the hands. While alive, I had never worn shoes or gloves. I was happy feeling the earth with my bare feet and hands while tending to the plants. A ring of flowers is there on the head, like a crown. Soon the body would be taken to the cemetery, and speaker after speaker would eulogize me before the coffin is lowered into the pit and handfuls of dirt thrown over it.
A regular church-goer, I had believed that the soul would go either to heaven far above the sky, or hell, to be eternally fried there, depending on one’s deeds while alive. I had felt heavenly happiness when my friend Jose sat by me, cracking jokes in between sips of liquor. Or when I heard the mooing of my cows and the clucking of hens. I had experienced unbound joy when the first bunch of flowers appeared on the mango trees and green bulbs burst out on cardamom plants.
Then came the bolt from the blue. A phone call just before nine at night, my usual time for bed, from my only son settled in a faraway city. Hurried pleasantries over, he had dropped the bomb. He had decided to relieve me of the burden of looking after the estate at my advanced age. The estate that I had bought piece by piece over the years with the sweat of my brow. And sell the house that my wife and I had built brick by brick. He had booked a room for me in a modern old age home with all comforts and enjoyable company of people like me.
The next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital bed with Jose’s anxious face over me. Unaware of my regaining consciousness, my son was discussing my condition with the doctor. Urgent business awaited him in the city and could hardly afford to spend more time here.
“There’s no hope of his recovery. The moment the life-supporting gadgets are removed, he would stop breathing,” the doctor was telling him.
There was a hush-hush talk between the two after that, and not much later, a couple of nurses entered and asked Jose to leave the room.
The ventilator and other gadgets were removed. My body was shifted to the mortuary.