Sunday, May 02, 2021

3289 : The last smoke

I was talking to someone who has lost someone. This was earlier this year to covid. This was when the protocols were still very range bound and some sense was being followed. 

She was telling me of how they could not meet the loved one in the last days (as he lay in the ICU). They were allowed to chat via a smartphone - but looks like he could not meaningfully respond much. His eyes, she specifically said, she thought showed some recognition. For most other times (when he was not on calls), when they would peep into his world via a small square window on the door - they could see him with eyes closed. Very rarely with eyes open. And if his eyes were open, they were staring into the blank ceiling.

Eventually, he succumbed despite the ICU and the oxygen support. If I remember her right, after about 17 odd days of struggle and almost being semi-comatose (at least he could not eat or speak or emote normally).

In those early days (let's say Feb), the human body was not handed over to the family - but was arranged to be cremated by the state. She said - she clearly remembers the journey from the hospital to the designated cremation ground. It was a short 5km drive, but felt like an enormity.

They were not allowed to have a peek at the deceased person. Counting that day, they had not met him in person for about 18 odd days - almost. They were allowed, though, to look at the pile from about 30 feet away. He was completely covered in sheets. They were also allowed to incant and conduct rituals from far.

Eventually, as he lay on the pyre, they could see the body from far again (as it lay burning). She told me - she stood there for a good 10 odd minutes watching this spectacle. She could not, not see. She wanted to see him one last time - closely and attentively. Of course, this was metaphorical - since all, she could see was the flames.

She told me as she started eventually walking away, she also saw the smoke from the chimney. And a thought struck her - which made her chuckle a bit.

He loved his cigarettes and smokes.

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