Much like vodka and an AA meeting, death and funny don’t mix well. Except at moments that pop up like sudden zits before a date.
It’s happened to me twice in the same day.
Cut to my grandmum’s funeral, four years ago. Our 2 BHK house was teeming with relatives and friends and neighbours. There was just about standing room, what with all the flat surfaces being occupied with random people. Me and my brother were in the kitchen, making tea and coffee for the visitors, when suddenly there came this piercing cry from the living room.
At this point, I find it important to mention that like a lot of anal-retentive upper middle class Maharashtrians, my family doesn’t cry. We weep silently into our cotton handkerchiefs, we sniff delicately, passing off emotion as the common cold, we well up and become moist-eyed, but we never, ever cry.
And to be fair, neither was the creator of the pandemonium in the living room. She wasn’t crying. She was beating her chest and bawling. She was wailing, screeching loudly, blaming the thirty billion Hindu gods for cruelly snatching my grandmom away from the world, oh, she was such a fine lady, fie on you God aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Any moment now, she was going to roll on the floor in a pretty good impression of Dimple Kapadia in Rudaali.
Meanwhile, against all laws of propriety, throwing political correctness to the winds, my brother and I were snickering in the kitchen. I mean, it was our grandmum. We were, you know, related to her, by blood and chromosomes and such. And we were in the kitchen making coffee for our far and not-so-dear ones, while a totally random woman who hadn’t met Grandma in years, was in the living room bawling her lungs out*. Death at a Funeral was only mildly amusing in comparison.
And it wasn’t over because later that evening, Tibet called. I must have answered the phone sounding as bummed out as I felt, because her first response to my morose “Hello”, was “Wow, who died?”.
* She stopped after a while. I think she realised that she was the only one making any kind of noise. There’s only so much pointed staring a person can stand after all.