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A Faith Good for Dead (standard:non fiction, 812 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Oct 24 2015Views/Reads: 1102/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
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A Faith Good for Dead 

Kamala's was only 54 years old and her death was not sudden, it was in
making for the last four years when she was first diagnosed with 
cancer. With other priorities in her family she could not go to doctor 
when she first felt a lump in her breast. When she visited her doctor, 
he suspected cancer and sent her to see a cancer doctor for further 
tests and treatment. She was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. 
Though her estranged husband and six siblings, three sisters and three 
brothers live in the same city, they hardly met on a regular basis, 
except on few religious holidays for celebrations. The ride to the 
cancer hospital on a motorized rickshaw was bumpy and painful 
notwithstanding the pain from the chemotherapy and yet Kamala has to 
endure the weekly painful travel to the clinic; despite her siblings 
have cars, none of them offer her ride to the clinic. Not having 
children and the estranged husband did not help her situation either. 
On occasions, colleagues from her office took time to accompany her to 
the clinic to give physical and moral support. After several months of 
chemo therapy, the cancer in the breast was disappeared but it spread 
to nearby bones.  The government sponsored health insurance covered 
most of her treatment costs but to release the funds, she has to bribe 
the bureaucrats, a cut of 10% before cutting a check on a regular 
basis, a standard practice. Despite all these hardships, she sustained 
and fought back single handedly. The cancer left her bones and entered 
her brain. After several months of radiation and chemo therapy the 
doctors declared her cancer free but the toxicity of chemo and 
radiation, Kamala succumbed to her death, four years after diagnosing 
with advanced breast cancer. Kamala's siblings and estranged husband 
were hesitant to visit the hospital to bring her body home fearing they 
could be stuck with her unpaid medical bills. Eventually, her body was 
brought to her house by her reluctant estranged husband and placed her 
body on a metal cot under a tree in the front yard on superstitious 
belief that it is a bad omen to place a dead body in the house. 
Kamala's estranged husband, her siblings, and other close relatives in 
town visited to participate in the last rights that stretched for over 
two weeks.  As per their faith, a priest was called to perform the last 
rights. While the priest was chanting verses from ancient scriptures, 
the body was washed and turmeric paste was applied to her body as part 
of cleansing process. In preparation for cremation of the body, the 
sibling argued in selecting the color of the cloth to wrap the body, 
some wanted red silk and others insisted on yellow; at the end the 
pries interfered to select yellow silk since yellow is the color of 
purity and holy. When time came to order flowers, again arguments broke 
out and eventually they all agreed on garlands made up of 
chrysanthemums and red roses. The priest and his assistants made a 
bamboo frame to place the body to transport to the cremation grounds. 
The ritualistic proceedings prior to cremation were complicated, long 
and costly. At the cremation grounds, few sandalwood logs along with 
regular firewood were placed beneath and on top of the body before 
lighting the pyre. A tin of clarified butter was poured on the fire as 
the priest was loudly chanting hymns. The following day, Kamala's 
brothers collected a portion of her ashes in an urn to drop into a holy 
river hundreds of miles from home in a ritual under the supervision of 
the priest. On 3rd 5, 9 and 11th day after Kamala's death, ceremonies 
were conducted to comply with their faith. On these days, a group of 
priests were invited for holy feast and several family relatives were 
also joined the feast. The expenses towards Kamala's funeral escalated 
as the siblings insisted on performing complicated rituals to comply 
with their faith Kamala's older brother, a CPA kept a record of all the 
expenses incurred for Kamala's funeral. When it came to share the 
funeral expenses, arguments broke out again between the Kamala's 
estranged husband and her siblings.  Eventually, they decided to use 
all of Kamala's remaining meager bank balance to pay for the expenses 
and to share her house-hold goods left in her rented house to cover the 
remaining balance. All along, Kamala's soul in the heaven watching her 
own funeral wondered at the actions of her estranged husband and her 
siblings. When she really needed help while going through painful 
therapy, none of them volunteered to help financially or otherwise and 
yet they came forward to perform the funeral rituals in the name of 
their faith. Kamala's athma wondered whether their faith was good only 
for the dead. 


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