I brought you some blue whisky glasses. Really beautiful ones.
I realized it was absolutely out of place to say that at someone's funeral pyre, but that's what I blurted out. And whisky glasses are never blue.
The body was placed on the floor, covered in white cloth. The feet were jutting out, so I sat there and felt them. The same old white feet, only whiter. I ran my forefinger along her cracked heels and smiled. She was still there, and I couldn't tell if she were just sleeping, in coma, or dead. One of her toes had twitched a day before. That wasn't there any more. She was dead after all, then. It is the end. And very soon her ashes will fit into an urn that you could hold in your both hands. The strangeness of death, from so close, was lost on me. There were people all around. "They've all come to see you." And they were all there indeed. Cousins I hadn't met in a long time and probably wouldn't meet again. All of them.
I could overhear someone discussing me. About how cold and unfeeling I had become. But then death was always just another phase to me, like the period at the end of a sentence.
This time when I went to visit my cousin who looked after my comatose mother for over a month, I saw those glasses again. She had stacked them up in a glass cupboard, one after another, like sentinel on duty. There was one missing though.
"You brought me those."
"I know. That was to say thanks. Dunno really how to..."
And we were quiet for a while. If she hadn't taken ma to her hospital, we would be bankrupt by now. And ma would still be dead.
I walked back from her Rail Vihar apartment to our house. The otherwise broad road was crowded with shops and people and garbage. There was a bus pushing its way through the crowd, the conductor calling out for passengers to Howrah. All the noise fused together after a while, like a viscous lump one could easily stash into a can and close shut, savor the void for a few seconds, and open it again, slowly allowing the fused lump of various noises to get back to their distinct shapes again. One of the shapes could well be the clink of the missing blue glass.
*A Rumor of Angels is a beautiful American film starring Vanessa Redgrave.