I'd dozed off for about a hour and a half, towards the wee hours of the morning, despite my best efforts to keep awake and give company to mom. I was given a shake up at a half past 5 by my little niece as I'd directed. It was to get ready early to receive the people who'd started filing past my mom and thank each one of them.
The love of the people that my mom was always aware and proud of, was clearly on show. The way many broke down on seeing her was a touching sight, some of them had felt me, clutched my hand and even hugged me - was it their way to reestablish contact with my mom through my person? I wonder! I was seeing quite a few of my relations after what seemed to be a long time. Grief was simply all pervading.
The ceremony started on the dot at 10, with Mani - he's actually Manian but I'd told him that I'd call him thus as it sounded cute and he smilingly gave his assent without hesitation! - steering me through the procedure. Mom was taken out of the bubble and made to lie on the huge banana leaf, after a bath given by the ladies, except for her daughters. After a huge crowd had placed rose petals on the body, I
was on task, leading the ceremony, while taking the body to the pyre.
Meanwhile the cremation spot had been prepared beside dad's as mom had always desired. By about a 10' to 11, her earthly form was shrouded permanently and had become memory. I'd cleaned up her face as directed, planted my last kiss on her cheeks when I noticed a fresh speck of blood beneath the right nostril, rekindling hopes of her 'waking up' - the reverie was brutally cut short by Mani who said that the auspicious moment had arrived!
The lit torches were placed at the head(Me), the middle(My younger Maman) and the feet(My elder Maman) and we soon saw the tongues of flame engulfing mom's body till it became a uniform bed of fire! I'd gone back to thank everyone, who'd come to grace the occasion by their presence with an earnest 'namaste'!
The traditional breaking of the earthenware pot, full of water, followed by the offerings to the spirit - depicted by the crows - was, then, carried out after the special procedure!
The huge conglomeration of people who'd come to attend the function started melting away. A few among them had stayed on for lunch, catered to a limited audience. The majority of the family had started moving away after lunch, while a few others wanted to linger!