Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chitaah ko agni dena.. ladki ka kaam hua

Gopinath Munde's daughter performs last rites

Dear Pankaja Munde,

I am so, SO sorry for your loss. You don't know me, nor I you, but I want to offer my condolences. No child should ever have to see their parent dead. At least not without being prepared for the death, and all that comes with  death.

Such as the cacophony - of family and well-wishers each throwing out opinions on things to do, and things that are taboo, and how many days of mourning to be observed, and who will insert the notice in the paper, and approving the text for the notice, and assigning someone to enlarge a recent photo of the deceased, and ALL THOSE THINGS. Such as rituals and their logistics - is it too late for cremation today? Do we put the body on ice or in a morgue? Such as grief - do I give in to mine, or do I remain strong for my surviving parent, or sibling, or even a grandparent? All those things, Pankaja, must have and probably still take their toll on you. You must be bravely taking all of it in your stride, perhaps waiting to weep in private much later.

But Pankaja, I want to also thank you for doing this one thing, which perhaps must have come so naturally to you. I want you to know how indebted I am to you for doing the last rites for your father. I want you to know how awesome you are for having the courage to go into the crematorium, for having the courage to defy thousands and thousands of years of belief and ritual, and for having the god-awesome courage to personally give your father a send-off, for setting alight his funeral pyre.

What you did, Pankaja, is what I would want my children to do for me, irrespective of their sex. It is what I would like to do for my parents - subject to their wishes, of course. And everything permitting, what I would like to do for my husband, should he pre-decease me. Because what you did? Is what everyone should become comfortable doing and permitting to be done.

I want to appropriate your action for the cause of equal rights (equal rites?), for the cause of, oh, let's just call it feminism. But I will desist because that would also be politicising the tragedy that befell you and your family.

But I still want to thank you for doing what you did. Thank you, Pankaja. And Gods bless you and your family with strength, fortitude and patience.

Yours, in humble awe,

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