|A Faith Good for Dead (standard:non fiction, 812 words)|
|Author: Juggernaut||Added: Oct 24 2015||Views/Reads: 597/0||Story 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. Tweet
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