Monday, March 12, 2012

Of Memorials

There are many troubling feelings you experience when attending someone's memorial. One might think that none amounts to the bitterness of remembering the loved one who passed and knowing he will not be here anymore or, if you were not so close with him, in seeing his memory in the eyes of other people. This is bearable or, in the least, manageable and one might think that the cliche is right on the mark with that one: time does heal such wounds.

There is, however, an unsurpassed desperation when attending memorial services: That you see none of that. To witness the formality of death in the eyes of the waiters who wait on tables, busily pouring water and black coffee. To see the Qura'n reciter arrive to the destination and leave when he has done his part, to see the indifference in the eyes of the attendees. It is the tragedy of being a corpse tended to by living corpses. To be a corpse among people who are incapable of remembering who you were because all the ones who do are either dead, or simply led lives where you were not of fundamental importance. And, though the word corpse sounds cruel, whoever died is just that at that moment: a corpse. There is no particular value to the formality, there is an almost mechanical quality to it: It has to be done because it has to be done. And there is no love, no emotion, no affection. Pure mechanical social convention set into action.

This is a thought that time will not heal or manage. It is an image you cannot forget once you have seen. It is hauntingly brutal and it is the reason I do not plan on having people throwing me a memorial service when I die. Get rid of me in peace; do not force me on the world when the world no longer recognizes me. Do not push me down the throats of people I do not know for reasons I do not care for. And most of all: Do not turn me into a sign on an Events Hall to be taken down at the end of the evening when the chairs are dusted off and the tables are stained with coffee. Oh please, God, do not make me a sign on a hall.

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