Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Baffled Father of a teenager!

Baffled Father of a teenager!

‘We are parents of teenager’, this was enough remark to gain sympathy.
In fact many would empathize loudly with number of stories to prove that none amongst us was exception. Immediately, a mutual sympathetic group would form with all members having teenager children in their family claiming to be sailing in the same boat.

I am certainly baffled! Baffled as to why do teenagers’ parents call themselves sufferers. No way I am a sufferer to complain. Instead I am enjoying this phase, as it makes me more nostalgic. My son is so similar to me in thoughts and does boldly what I dared not do as a teenager. I failed to act, as he does, due to baggage of values that people of our times carried with pride. I think this generation is brave and risk taking. I wish I was born with my son and lived his life with him, but of course, certainly, wouldn’t have liked to have a parent like me, who despite being liberal at heart pretended unnecessarily to be conservative with genuine intention to tame.

Take it for yesterday. Chilly cold day in mid of January, 2015.

My son, in grade 11th, was leaving to celebrate the farewell party of grade 12 students in his school.
‘What time are you returning back?’ I asked him.
‘May be Oneish!’ he exclaimed, excited in anticipation of grand party. He paid little attention to my attention and lifted his tee-shirt to self admire the new abdomen packs he believed was evidently visible.
‘Can you see these cuts, Papa!’ his excitement grew further with little further rise of his cloth and exposure of chest.
‘Yes!’ I jumped into his bandwagon of freakish body curve glory sellers.
‘This is because of my hardwork at gym.’ He turned towards me and with disapproving stare asked, ‘Did you start your workout. I had sent you a youtube clipping. Sixty year old carving muscles and getting rid of diabetic medicines by exercising regularly’.
‘It is too cold to go for a walk in Delhi, now a days man!’ I imagined the daily foggy, chilly winters that we were witnessing this year. The very mention of it made me shiver. I looked around for a cap to cover my head and ears.
‘You are still that old typo walker, Papa!’ no remorse for being brutally foul.
‘How dare you call me old typo’, I yelled. And typical of me, spread my arms and challenged him to test strength by wrist pressing.
Six months ago I had successfully challenged him, but now situation was different. He was two inches taller, six footer, broad shoulders like a boxer, heavy iron fist and long fingers. He was perfect model at sixteen and I was model, going waste at forty five. My diabetes was getting worse day by day, a victim of my hectic Delhi schedule, and laziness, without exercise mornings.
‘Don’t Papa’, he warned with sarcasm and pity.
We shook hands and started pressing each other. I could figure out that he was sparing me from embarrassment.
‘So, you can’t beat me’, I laughed appreciating reality.
‘Do you think so! You will hurt yourself dear’, he measured his biceps with his other palm even while being in mid of challenge. It did not distract him and I struggled to make out of this distraction.
‘Can you see my biceps. Are they not good now, Papa’, he unintentionally, humbly humiliated me by bothering little to my efforts to defeat him.
Tired, I suddenly pulled my hand and touched his biceps and sounded appreciative, ‘yes, certainly they are grown now’.
‘Smart Dad. So you quit on pretext of looking at my biceps. Do you accept your defeat’, his eyes twinkled.
All through he was staring himself in the full sized mirror.

‘You are Narcist’ my wife would tell him and he would say ‘How would then I know the impact of my hard work in gym, if I don’t check in the mirror’.

‘You are going to be center of attraction’ I teased. I did not want to talk much about loss. He put one hand in his pant pocket and with fingers of other he brushed his hair. For months he hadn’t touched a comb. His fingers would shape his hairdo, and that looked more bizarre than when he came out of bed in the morning.
‘Looking casual is in vogue. Fashion of our time!’ came unwanted remark.
‘I have to brush my teeth’, suddenly he ran to the bathroom. ‘Can I please use your razor. I have to give shape to my beard’. The door shut behind him with a thud. He did not wait for my response or to my approval. Water ran in the washbasin.
‘You sometimes forget to brush your teeth in the morning. How come you are so serious at this hour in the evening? Preparing to kiss someone’, I walked to the bathroom door and shouted from outside to over power the water noise.
On the door was written in ink, in his handwriting, ‘BEWARE, I AM INSIDE. ENTER AT YOUR RISK’.
I knew I was crossing limit of father and son’s conservative relationship.
‘Come on Papa. You too are teasing me like Mamma’, there was noisy brushing of teeth in the bathroom. He perhaps intended to shine his teeth snow white.
‘This wouldn’t help you with your dental colour. Yes that will certainly throw away the foul smell’, I teased him. My incessant devil’s tattoo on the bathroom door added to the music of the tap water.
He had no interest in replying. I knew now he was shaving. He came out bare chested, with smartly pruned beard.
‘Your both children are smart’, my wife who entered the stage unannounced whispered in my ears and spitted three four times in a row. This spitting she had learnt from my mother to ward off black eyes. She would always praise and spit around.
‘All girls will run behind you’, she teased. I knew this was purely motherly instinct, to consider their children as best.
‘This is new shirt. Where did you get this from’, I asked looking at the well ironed black and blue square check shirt lying on the bed.
‘I borrowed it from my friend for this day’ he said. This is what was difference between our age and theirs. There was no much thought running behind any action. Friendship meant informality and sharing without questions. Infiltration into the privacy of others life was taken for granted. And at our age privacy is what mattered most in our life.
‘I would have lent you mine’ I complained feeling betrayed.
‘No offence, Dad! We keep exchanging our things. Akshay is wearing my jacket’, he said to ease me. He wore a white tee-shirt and over it half buttoned checked shirt. And that is what it was.
My wife and me just stared at each other. Outside it was very cold. Since morning it had been raining. Still it was overcast and the ever non-reliable metrological department had predicted rain whole night.
‘Are you going to stay partying at School whole night’, I questioned with suspicion. ‘Who will be there in school till one in the morning’, I asked.
‘All Papa! This is how we celebrate farewell in the school. Even teachers and principal will be there. There will be some cultural performance and I am playing a real photographer. I withdrew from a role in the skit, so that I can catch some interesting moments in the party’. He sounded very professional and confident. I had seen him grow in the last one year. He certainly looked hunk.

He had blossomed in this school. In his previous school he had been suppressed and his hyper energy level was misconstrued for indiscipline. Here he was left to explore possibilities, and soon became popular for his documentary making, fun loving and penchant for new ideas. The management admired his innovativeness and creativity and that fuelled his desire to perform better. He was loving his new found popularity. And we too felt elated, as we had longed all our life to hear words of praise for him. He was known for his hyper activity, and conventional schools failed to acknowledge his out of box thoughts.

His documentaries carried great messages. In his vines he made mockery of himself, to convey deep meaningful messages. We could not believe his sense of humour; they had perfect timing. He had amazing understanding of camera positions, and talent to direct non-artists and prompt them to perform. He scripted, told story, directed and edited. So he was one in all, at this tender age.

I remembered how I was forced to take science subjects including Math. I was uncomfortable with the subject, but science was meant for bright students and humanities were for duffers. To prove their children’s brilliance my parents pressurized me to take science. I had suffered with science all through, though when it came to scoring in exams I came out with flying colours. That performance, my output, was more to make my parents happy than myself. Now here was my son, who had quit science and Math, and taken humanities when in grade nine.
‘How can you permit your child to quit Math before twelfth?’ sarcastically acquaintances questioned. Even co-passengers in trains and flight, casually introduced during journey, would show their surprise. In their tone they were clear that we were fool or were toying with child’s future.
‘Math is important for foundation building of the child’, they would say with ‘n’ number of stories in support of their argument. 
How scary math was to my son was not a concern for anyone. What mattered was practice in vogue. Without Math an Indian was not baptized.
And, my son lacked the Indian flavor right from his birth. In our culture, laissez-faire attitude of parents was not proper parenting and laissez-faire attitude on the part of the child qualified him as a dumb-buffoon-good for nothing-spoilt brat (DBGSB). I had failed to graciously qualify as DBGSB, as a kid, because I had no guts to pursue my liking, though thousands time I would had loved to do that. I envied my son for his strong headedness, and was proud of myself for letting him do, what certainly I failed to do. However, honestly, I felt that my son never acknowledged our (me and my wife’s) magnanimity, to dare sail against the tide.

His friends came to pick him. A girl and a boy! Both were dressed for party.

Our anxiety started building up when there was no news till midnight. My wife was impatient, and we both kept creating more wrinkles on the bed by turning sides every now and then.
Worry for our son always translated into unhappy situation. Romance between us would just vanish. My wife would blame me for not controlling him and I would accuse her of giving him too much liberty.
‘He is with his friends in school. Certainly he is safe! Let us call him’ I said to reassure his safety. I always tried to save the situation by sounding positive at the onset, however that hardly lasted for more than couple of minutes. My wife’s tirade provoked by her anxiety would force me to react.
‘Do you think the school will be open at midnight. He must have moved to some of his friends place or driving around with friends. These youngsters are reckless drivers’. The very mention of driving by youngsters made my wife nervous. She would be petrified. Honestly, even I would get jittery. Driving car or two wheeler, the mode of transport would not help ease out the intensity of uneasiness. What mattered to us was that a reckless teenager was driving. Both would invite equal worry.
‘Why don’t you call him’ I asked. Annoyance was clear in our voice.
‘I have tried but he did not pick phone’.
A message popped up on her phone.
‘I am alive! Going to a friends place’.
That was weird message, but that is what our son was. Plainly adventurous! even in his messages.
Such messages were funny retrospectively, but at that moment it would further fuel the fire of anxiety.
‘I am with my friend Mama. We are going to one of our teachers place to enjoy’, he was brief when my wife and son were connected.
‘Who is this teacher, ready to host children at this hour’, she threw her suspicion in the air, hoping I would come out with definitive answer, after she was disconnected.
‘How do I know! Didn’t you talk to him?’ Lying on the bed with one of my hands folded on my forehead I gave a semblance of being in deep thought. I was staring at the ceiling, feeling left out. He had neither thought of texting me, nor he had expressed his wish to talk to me. His communication had been with his mother. And, she had in turn communicated their communication to me spiced with her own feelings. So, obviously my reaction was directed to her, my wife.
When mind dwells on anxiety, the discussion drags unnecessarily to all issues, which is not contextual.
‘I don’t know if he is serious at all towards his studies’. Now, why we discussed his studies at this hour was inexplicable.
 ‘I am fed up teaching him. I have put my career, my personal time and space at stake for his studies, but he never responds properly’, my wife’s strongest weapon in her armour was used.
‘Let him bear the consequences. Leave him to his destiny. If he would have been so serious with his studies then he would have done miracles’, I mused. We never failed to be judgmental.

Studies were the best weapon to use against a child. Comparative accusations or merely describing gaps in expectation and in delivery, the topic would put the child in defensive. And, we never failed to use that often, whenever we wanted to convey our dissatisfaction with his performance, social or educational.

At one thirty another message flashed ‘Still alive! Will be coming in half an hour’
The content of the second message brought some smile on our face. It had dual effect on us.
One that he was coming back soon, and, second was his sense of humour, which we admired silently.

At two fifteen in the morning he returned. He called on my wife’s cellphone, indicating his arrival. I went downstairs to open the door.
‘Who dropped you home?’ I asked him.
My first concern was if he was intoxicated. There was no sign, and I did not want to embarrass him and myself for asking that stupid question without any evidence. A normal teenagers parent thinks everything abnormal.
‘Who was driving the car’ I asked
‘He was on his scooty’, he said
We had by this time reached our bedroom, upstairs on this duplex home.
‘Didn’t I say that!’ she exclaimed sitting on the bed.
‘And where is your shirt. It is cold outside’, I had missed seeing his missing shirt.
‘My friend driving scooty was feeling cold, so I gave my shirt to him. I was sitting behind and shielded by his body’
‘It was so much fun. We enjoyed sooooo muuuuch!’
That was enough to melt us down. However, we wanted to hold our fort that it was not fair to be so careless. Unfairness was on three counts: firstly, staying out for so long without proper information, secondly, driving recklessly in the city on scooter and thirdly, inappropriately dressed for winter. We did not need any proof to aver that boys drove recklessly, if at all it were boys. Our statement was made without any scope of clarification.
Deep inside I was feeling that our interventionist blabbering would play spoilsport. He was back after a wonderful evening with his friends and we were hell bent to dampen his spirits. But, as parents did we not have the right to correct him. We did not want to dilute our rights. Both, my wife and me would regret later for unnecessarily reacting, but at that point it was very hard to contain our outburst, as for hours we had concocted all sorts of stories against him. We needed a vent out. Enough we had fought with each other. Now we had a soft target to attack.
However, we tried to sound mild and perhaps that was pleasantly unexpected for our son too.
After unexpected little dressing down, I invited him to sleep next to me, on my arms, and then indulged him in gossip. How much I wanted to know what kids of this age do. How much I yearned to be of his age.

I tried to justify our uneasiness and pacified him by quoting many stories published in newspaper, which put the patience of parents on dock. All such stories made us believe that world was too cruel.

He opened up soon and started sharing his excitement. The music and dance! The drive on the empty roads of Bhopal, in pitch darkness! Yelling and shouting! Fun frolicking!

I wanted to live through him this age. I wondered if I was suffering from dual personality. I wanted to enjoy, fly like a free bird and explore the world, without getting stuck in the hassle and pressure of professional chores. I wanted to live with the same fervor, excitement and enthusiasm that he lived with. However, at the same time I wanted my son to get bogged down and sucked into the vortex of unwanted educational and societal pressure. There was some gap in my desire and action, preaching and practice! I was, like other millions, a baffled father of a teenager, who wanted best for his child, and to fulfill this aspiration was killing the ingenuity of the child. Conditional freedom is what we teenagers father advocated.

I am surely enjoying this phase of my teenager, as I said at the onset of this confession note. But, I am honestly baffled, not just because of people’s mindset that we are sufferers, but also because factually we parents of teenagers do attract pain for no reason whatsoever. I am struggling hard to come out of this predicament.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015



I was wandering on the beautiful golden beaches of Goa, with an aim to aimlessly loiter, to lose myself, unwind the stress and gather the freshness, and steal some beauty from surrounding nature. I was trying to count the relentless waves hitting the shores, witnessing the froth on the waves eaten up by the beach sand, looking at the small sea shells rolling up to the sand on the waterside and slipping down under the water with the waves, and formation and disappearance of my footsteps on the wet minute gravels.

I was mumbling, whispering and thinking loud. Perhaps, alone I intended to give company to my solitude. Suddenly, I felt I missed to hear myself, as my voice got submerged in the sound of waves. This was a challenge, and I shouted full throttle to dare bury my voice. To my surprise I soared my throat with couple of challenging yells, but the sea continued teasing me with its roaring laughter through waves hitting just above my ankles and below. It pitied my miniscule presence and dragged the sand beneath my barefoot, tickling me and solacing me to forget my ego and enjoy where I was, what I was, who I was and when I was. It hinted me to empty myself of all thoughts and try to think to be thoughtless. It prompted me to enjoy my presence, in the presence of the beauty of unbridled nature. However, it was easier said than done.

Now, my thought process shifted and strayed into new dimension. Of course, I couldn’t become thoughtless and drift into vacuum. In fact it further agitated me, coursing my musing to identify myself in this vastness. I started wondering how can I be egoless, presence less, motion less and in a state of thoughtlessness. Wouldn't that make me a non-entity. Would it not pose a challenge to my existence and create an identity crisis in me. What character represents all these factors? 

Another wave, a bigger one, more powerful, came and hit, dis-balancing me. In an attempt to hold my ground I looked down. Water was greyish, loaded with sand. As it settled back while returning to main seabed, the colour changed to blueish. Froth riding top of another wave towards shore was whiteish. Farther I looked, darker the colour became. Same water looked different at different places, in different situation and different dynamics. Did it turn its colour like chameleon to protect itself or was it too magnanimous to be bothered by its surroundings. Did it behave as nothing, above the struggle of identity crisis?

I went on thinking and water conversed with me loud!

For anything living on this earth, water is indispensable necessity.
‘You are animate because you have me!’
However, I knew, itself it behaved ‘inanimate’. It did not bother about its taste, colour or identity. It silently merged with the identity of its surroundings.
‘Love or you hate, I do not care!’
‘The way you treat me, the way you get me’.
How do we explain a character, which doesn’t have any of its own character? Or was the character so strong that it knew that its presence couldn’t be compromised with, neglected and overlooked.
‘My presence is not because of you, and my existence is independent of my surroundings. I let you overtake me because I have no identity crisis!’

Was that arrogance of water or was it confidence. I walked a mile on the shore, with every wave hitting me with smile, oozing confidence, and prompting me to converse more. I laughed and agreed. My hearty noisy laugh merged with hearty noisy laughter of uninterrupted, intermittent waves, creating and subsiding itself at will. It never bothered if it was humbly touching my feet or I humbly bowed to take a dip with reverence. It swayed and danced at will, without any concern. All along the beach, tourist poured in to take energy from it. I realized it was time for me to backtrack with a lesson learnt.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Death 'Wish': My 'Will'

Death Wish: My Will

‘You are now entering 45’, said my friend on 22nd December 2014, my birthday. I was born in 1969. ‘So you are middle aged’, he further added with a wink. ‘Forty is naughty and at forty-five you are at the helm, it is peak time!’ It was funny, but unfortunately it did not amuse me. How deeply that day I realized that humour was situational. Interpretation reflected state of mind. Meaning of word depended on the lens worn to see it. Perception cannot be prescribed.

I was confused. My mother-in-law was on deathbed, suffering from cancer. Though she was 68 years, she wished to live forever. And honestly, that is how she had lived till she was detected of that deadly ailment, at third stage. In this one year, she had turned from 67 years young lady pretending to be in mid thirties to 68 years old lady accepting the inevitability of death.

My father had been handsome 48 years, three years older than what I am now, in 1988, when severe cardiac arrest had taken him away one fine afternoon. He had been extremely jovial and warm in the morning, when we had left for hostel, and by evening we met him again- lifeless.

My mother who must have been then 43 years young beautiful lady lived despite her chronic heart ailment till 2009, almost twenty-one more years, remembering each day her lost partner.

Now, how do I ascertain if I am at the end, or beginning or in the middle of the life road? So, that fortunate day of 22 December, was I middle aged, basking in the glory of being at the helm of exciting naughty affairs? Or was I that insignificant particle of this galaxy who foolishly boasted of being the important constituent without which nothing would have existed, and suddenly get reduced to nothing, any-day-any-moment.

I felt it would be humble to be practical. Practicality lay in realization of the fact that days of life are numbered. We try to live as immortals, ignoring truth as an ostrich. So, if life is till we breathe, and our breath are counted, then wisdom lies in being practical. And, practically, if life is perishable then why not pen down terms of departure. A ‘term’ to be termed as ‘will’, wishing my beloved ones to follow once my soul leaves my physical attire.

Again, I wondered if it was practical enough to believe that I have beloved ones who would carry out my wish into action. However, I fancied that it was practical to jot down my ‘wishful will’ without thinking of its applicability, because I am not sure if it would mean anything to me or would be of any relevance, once I depart. Still, I want to wishfully leave my ‘will’ just because in my view it would benefit my dear and near ones, alive, who would give a try to treat me special when that would matter least to me.

Most often I think loud and hence become predictable and transparent. As a habit, getting philosophical with one of my colleagues over his agonizing trough period in the sine wave curve of life, I mistakenly philosophized that life is uncertain and one can meet death at any corner of the life’s journey. ‘Mistakenly’, because immediately I confronted an unexpected question, ‘Do you think a lot about death!’

I told him that I think a lot about life and not death, but unfortunately death is the inevitable consequence of life. Death is the only scientific certainty about human’s behavior, as rest is unpredictable hence unascertainable. So, my thought of life leads me to eventuality of life i.e. death. Life and death comes in package and there is no way to deny either.

I had been struggling to understand the rat race in life. Everyone, in life tried to achieve what every other predecessor perished attempting, to either pretend as content and arrogant celebrating achievement, or frustrated with sense of failure. In either situation, neither the pretense remained forever nor did they live for eternity. This race was, of course, an attempt to keep alive the significance of existence. I did not want to be in a denial mode. I too was one of those foolish creatures enthusiastically participating in the race.

Let me come to the point and enumerate some of my wishes, to be construed as ‘Will’:

·      All possible parts of my body, worth of any use to anyone should be taken/given to the needy. If required, even my cadaver should be left available for study/research by medical institution.
·      There should be no conventional funeral, burnt using quintals of logs. I would like to be burnt in electric crematorium. Let there be no funeral procession with slogans of ‘Ram naam satya hai’. No need to take last remains, ashes, to Ganga or Narmada, or any pious river. I firmly believe in Ravidas’s belief that ‘mann changa toh kathothi mein ganga’.
·      There should be no mourning, even for single day. The life of everyone, including family members, should go on as usual. No rituals to be observed, whatsoever. No shaving of head, no pundits invited, no feasts, no gathering and nothing. I must be remembered as a companion who was there and left for good.
·      As a student of sociology I accept that the purpose of observing rituals is to encourage communal gathering, which is necessary to keep the familial and community bonds alive in society. But, I do not want it to be a coerced gathering, burdening one to host forcefully and others to arrive risking and compromising with many of their prior plans. I do not want to be a cause of inconvenience, just under social pressure.
·      All my fortunes, savings and property should be at disposal of my wife and children. Would always love if they use it judiciously and for the benefit of society. I will be glad if it used for education of children, of all sections of society. But, I would not lay down any conditions on them, as they have struggled all through my adventures.
·      My living desire is that my children become good human beings and believe in helping others.

I do not want anyone to think that I wrote all this in depression. I am in best of mood and health, but of course wondering what is life. It is so uncertain. I have all right to decide in consciousness, as to what I wish. I may sound here to be rebellious, revolutionary maverick, moron or, or... I don’t mind being qualified as any weird person. I cannot force anyone to follow it, but if there is any consciousness after life, I will be happy to see my wish respected.

I started virtually in weird manner, by stating that it would be my humility to be practical. In fact, many would consider my ‘will’, as filthy manifestation of pseudo intellectual arrogance. My intention is not to challenge the generational rituals, but to desire what I believe in and my belief is rooted deep in my observation and experience. I consider that Hindu rituals have strong scientific backing. And those scientific reasons were relevant in those days, which can be rethought and reconsidered with fresh reasoning now. My belief is that Hinduism is one of the most scientific and flexible religions. It accommodates and appreciates all hues of life, which is vividly visible through our various GODs and Devtas’.

Here I would like to enumerate my observations and logic supporting my wish.


Quintals of wood is burnt in pyre of one person, whereas we have been strongly advocating (forcing) the poor (mostly tribals and underprivileged) living on the fringes of forests to do away with using of wood as cooking fuel. When there is alternative method of destroying the lifeless corpse, surrendering to the panchtatva, (like electric cremation) resulting in saving of our lifeline i.e. trees, why don’t we embrace that.

The use of wood for pyre, earlier, was due to its abundance, easy and inexpensive availability, and absence of alternate method.

Burning body was advocated to ensure that any ills sheltering in the body is eradicated. Heat and incineration is still considered to be best way of sterilization and wood was the cheapest and available fuel those days.

Now, electric crematorium is better way of saving the challenged environment where we are witnessing fast dwindling forests.

Community mourning, with gathering of people in funeral procession was, perhaps, meant to consolidate fraternity, strengthen the feeling of brotherhood and exhibit the system of dependency. It also encouraged and ensured community to compensate the loss in the hour of need. This logic still holds good to a certain extent in rural areas, where the options of livelihood provides space to maneuver time. Apparently, in urban areas/cities time is valued more than social obligations. The gathering has got translated into a show of strength or an attempt to score brownie points with someone bereaved (exceptions are celebrities or people popular for their exceptional work, which would be practically few in number).
In ‘n’ number of funerals I have attended I have witnessed visitors checking their wristwatch, and cell phones, and worrying about other prior commitments. If the time of funeral gets little delayed they would wriggle out uneasily promising to join the funeral after attending unavoidable important work. I always felt that this ritual had become a coercive social obligation. Anything in this fast track era, which is pain in neck, adding to already existing high level of stress is avoidable. Hence, I wish no funeral procession for me.

‘Ram naam satya hai’ was a slogan to cement the belief that we are all mortals and salvation lies in realizing the fact that peace lies in having faith in the universality of GOD. This also encouraged us to think that materialism would lead us to nowhere, else but to ultimate truth, that is death: fact of life, common to all. Everyone bowed their heads before a corpse as symbol of respect and in acknowledgment of the power of nature, which had its own terms and conditions, which no one could dare challenge.

I think in this fast materialistic and competitive world there is little reverence to logic behind rituals, therefore, it’s practical relevance is challenged. Hence, to people whose thought process is totally eclipsed by their strive to prove and establish dominance over others, I wish abhorrence from imposing this ritual for mere formality sake.

My disinterest in to where my ash would be drained was based totally on few facts. One, I could not understand as to how those white ashes with no remains of me except for burnt, charred few pieces of bones was of any concern to me, as a non-existent. By submerging it in some riverbed I think my irrelevant remains would further pollute already highly polluted water bodies. I actually don’t know how it can be disposed off. I wouldn’t mind if my ashes were buried, underground, to totally decompose it and literally leave it to assimilate with panchtatva. Or, if electric crematorium leaves no trace that would be best. I would leave to the wisdom of those who dispose off the remains in environment friendly way.

Earlier, in agricultural set up people had lot of time to think, hence would get troubled with the loss of a near and dear one.

Perhaps, the idea of 13 days mourning had multiple scientifically explicable cause and effect.
Ø  This would sanitize the ones who were with dead. The cause of death in those days was not very clear due to less pathological advancement. A scientific reasoning would suggest that if at all there was any infection transferred to people around the sick it could easily manifest in this sanitized period of 13 days.
The ‘karta’ (the person who used to perform the final rites) was normally the spouse or eldest son or father, who obviously remained closest to the deceased in any patriarchal family set up. For 13 days the ‘karta’ was asked to keep a distance from everyone, eat nothing oily/spicy so that he could be naturally sterilized. He was further prohibited from consuming turmeric, a natural antibiotic so that if there was any infection it would not get suppressed but get manifested. This was to preclude from later complications, once the ‘karta’ was mainstreamed. He was also not allowed to interact with any visitor and kept aloof. His bed was not to be touched, sheltered in one corner, he was not supposed to wear any formal dress but wrap simple piece of unstitched cloth, which would later be handed over to poor, whose life was of little value in the class driven society.  The best part of Indian thinkers of that era was that they made up with the less scientific diagnostic invention by pure scientific approach in life.
Ø  The whole family residing was asked to observe similar simplicity for two reasons. One to provide moral support to ‘karta’ and second to provide safeguard from collateral damage due to spread of infection in the ambience.
Ø  Conventionally nothing was cooked for the first few days, and food was received from dear ones, as food was the best carrier of any bacteria. This was natural way of sterilizing kitchen.
Ø  To keep him busy continuous rituals were performed and to keep his spirit high and spare him from falling into depression the ritual of hearing ‘garuda puran’ was recited.
Ø  All those ritualistic donations of food, to Mahapatra pundit, main pundit, brahmans’, barber, sweeper, etc was a means of survival of all these group. In those old days, in a strongly occupation based division of caste and class system barter was means to ensure survival of all. Food was also marked for cow, dog and birds (for their contribution in agricultural lifestyle was pivotal: Cow for its multi utility- milk, cowdung fuel, urine as antibiotic; Dogs as guards of the villages and trusted companion; birds as pest controller). Water was to be poured to the roots of peepal tree (which has been proved to be one of the best producer of oxygen). This was scientific method of creating interdependence not only between human beings but also with animals and trees. This was excellent example of symbiotic relationship between human and nature.
Ø  The hair was removed of all those close ones, as the exposed visible hairs are the best carriers of bacteria. This was limited to only males in Hindu religion because males were the only ones permitted to attend the funeral. Women were prohibited to attend funeral. Those days the long hair was considered to be the best asset of the women, a mark of beauty, and perhaps the society wanted to protect it. That is again one of the reasons why the hairs of the widow were removed, so as to prevent the lady from looking attractive to any other male, as remarriage was not a trend (mostly prohibited).
Ø  Males stayed when the body was burnt and there was fair chances that the dangerous germs harboured in dead body could fly and stick to the body of people who visited funeral. The persons who were close to pyre removed their hair. Whoever attended funeral would not enter home after returning from cremation ground unless they took of their clothes outside and took bath. The clothes were immediately washed.

Now, all these points discussed above do not hold any water in current situation. With the scientific revolution there is, more or less, answer to most of the problems anticipated above. And, in this era where occupation based caste system is not pertinent, there is no need for this symbiotic relationship to continue. This should be no further perpetuated to exploit the poor and people of religious bent of mind. Let it be by choice. I would in fact recommend distributing gifts to those who need most, like in orphanages, old age home and other institutions, rather than giving some prescribed people who would be more interested in recycling goods they are gifted with in the market.

The ritualistic feast on ‘tehrveen’ should be immediately done away with, in my opinion. I do not understand this method of celebrated mainstreaming. In my view this must have been a custom practiced by affluent class, who would invite people announcing and celebrating their good health and freedom from all ills of the deceased. Over the years, as means of ‘sanskritization’ (emulate the customs of upper caste by lower caste) this must have been adopted by all caste in the society. Now when these causes of discrimination are no more existing, where people are working in casteless environment, such ritualistic celebration is not required. And of course there are other means to confirm the good health of family members and of course other ways to celebrate.  

My desire is that my family members should start working from day one so that they normalize their life immediately. I would appreciate if they get caught in the cobweb of fast mundane lifestyle, in profession and at home. This suits the current social setting, and is a perfect curative process to forget pain; if at all my departure causes any. I would certainly discourage aggravation of pain through continuous sympathetic words pouring from visitors visiting intermittently at their convenience.

As for my desire to use my cadaver for research purpose and donation of all detachable organs for others benefit, the idea is that there is lot more to be done in scientific world. I would love to make my little contribution to boost this scientific temper. Everyone loves to live long and remain in good health. If my lifeless body can anyway be of help in this effort, I believe I will be elated and proud. I am saying I believe because I know just about life in this body and am in oblivion about life after death, so certainly cannot say if I would be proud of what I desire now, after death.

I have again expressed a weird desire of wanting my children to be good human beings. If someone asks me the definition of good human being, honestly I can admit that I will be at loss of words. It is very subjective term. I have tried to be a good human being according to my own standards, though know not what others think of me, as all will not come and express and share their opinion with me. Let my children too think twice before acting and just see that they do not be cause of pain to others, physically and psychologically. Let them judge for themselves what is definition of good human being, as I did myself.

Now, the biggest challenge lies in supporting my stand of leaving my material assets to my wife and children rather than gifting it as charity. This is a very conscious decision. Because, all through my life they would stay next to me, supporting me through all thick and thin. By all reasoning it becomes their right to use what I possess. However, I would always suggest that if they have enough and do not need my assets, then they could use it altruistically for the benefit of needy persons. But, I want to be clear that I leave everything on their sweet will, as I always have been advocating that values should never be imposed. Hence, even this death wish-will is merely my wish. I do not want to impose my values on any one.

All my desire is not an attempt to prove that I am rebellious, revolutionary and out of box thinker, trying to belie what is advocated and sermonized in our books. I am merely trying to be practical with an attempt to analyze our rituals from scientific perspective. I am trying to suggest what would be beneficial to sufferers (if any one suffers psychologically due my departure), after I become actually irrelevant to this physical world.