(1959 / Imphal, Manipur / India)

Funerals And Marriages

I’ve stopped going to funerals and marriages.
Any public demonstration of grief or joy unnerves me.
Solemnity withers me and I hate being genteel with a
pinstripe and noose around my neck. It is not that
I’ve forgotten acts of kindness or to wish
people happiness if they can find it anywhere. I
would, if I could, help the bereaved furtively after
the mourners have eaten and left. I have become truly
unsociable.

I don’t know why anyone would like to be
comforted by anybody except people they love
selfishly. You only need hugs and kisses from people
you’ve known intimately, people from whom you
can exact a price. I cannot be comforted, except by
the woman I love illicitly.

I often wonder about the efficacy of marriages and
funerals. Could it be because others are as worried,
as I was during my own wedding feast that my friends
and guests would not show up for some strange reason?
As regards funerals, I know that if the house of the
dead cannot keep a demonic hold on me my absence will
really not make any difference. But I do not want to
be censored for not attending marriages or funerals. I
wish people would not invite me to weddings or bring
news of an old acquaintance’s death. If I could
I wouldn’t attend even my own funeral.

I remember the day I returned home, and without even
seeing my father I went to my aunt’s house when
I heard my cousin had died during my long absence. I
tried to match my aunt’s grief by trying to show
some tears in my eyes but only ended up sniffing like
a dog. After that, my cousin’s sister, my other
lovely cousin, in whose body I first sang a liquid
tune with my tender mouth, gave me pineapple to eat
and we smiled at each other. I used to dip my hands
into her blooming breasts, a pair of frightened
pigeons. But later, my dead cousin appeared in my
dreams to play and protect me again as he did during
our childhood. He took a long a time to go away and I
had to spit three times to be sure that he
doesn’t haunt me.

I remember this film about slum-dwellers in Bombay and
how after the tears and the burning they would bring
out their bottles of orange liquor and get drunk and
have a real ball. That’s one funeral I would
like to attend.

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Other poems of NGANGOM (16)

Comments (1)

Robin one of the best poets in English from India. Was lucky to meet him in a poetry meet in 2003 .