Is it important to have a cigarette stuck between my two fingers when I look at obituaries? I don’t pay much heed to this question that only I have thrown at myself. For now, I only look at the pictures of the dead.
The first photo looks like one shot for a matrimonial alliance. Face tilted towards one of the studio walls, lips stuck together, almost in an embrace, and one end of the Sari hiding the seemingly sharp shoulder blade.
And now, the photo of the young woman, sent to a newspaper office along with a few lines, which most of the mourning families usually tend to stick to:
The sunshine of our lives, the prayer of our hearts…
There would be other pictures too, probably stashed away in an old purse or in a cupboard above the television set in front of which the family sat for dinner every night, watching morbid soaps: a picture taken during a college farewell ceremony (remember, she was adjudged Miss Smile), another taken during a family vacation (she wearing a straw hat and staring at the lens, her thoughts somewhere else), yet another at a wedding (she looking dreamily at the henna-stained palms of the bride).
The family is probably still in mourning. Must be, since at least two inches more than usual of newspaper space has been booked.
Memory is short-lived. With each passing day, with each passing moment, she would be remembered only in occasional spasms. And then life will ease itself into a routine. After the mourning period is over, the only person who might remember her is an old, toothless grandmother, as she feels her prayer beads between her feeble fingertips.
Death, I suppose, snatches everything.
I cannot look at the next photo. My cigarettes are finished.