“When I die,” she declared, “you’ll understand why there is ‘fun’ in funeral.”
Carefree words spoken laughingly by a teenager.
Sixty years later, I was standing at her funeral.
I caught snippets of formal conversation.
“Aye, she was a lovely woman. Always had a kind word for everyone.”
“She lived a long and fulfilling life, God bless her soul.”
A solemn looking boy stood up. He must have been about fifteen, with sorrow making untimely creases on his face.
“My grandmother had a last wish,” he spoke, as everyone in the room perked up at his voice. “Would everybody please gather around the ice-box please? I’d rather tell it all to you so that she can see…” Here, he sniffed and wiped his nose with a tissue “…I kept my promise.”
Many obliging murmurs now. Piqued, I followed suit.
“Here, in this box, lies the best woman I ever knew. And her last wish was…”
He was cut short by a sudden onslaught of…was that blues music?
And was that coming from the ice-box?
“I want to break free! I want to breeeeak free!”
I wasn’t able to hear the rest of the song as it was muted out by the shrill screams of fear coming from the younger women in the room.
It hadn’t sunk in yet to the older people in the room. Their eyes had just popped out, their jaws were slack open, and they were shaking in fear.
Judging by the pandemonium, I could safely say that we’d probably be needing a few more ice-boxes soon.
The ‘solemn’ boy was crying his eyes out in laughter.
“Did you see that, Mom? Best thing I’ve done all my life! Oh, Grandma would’ve LOVED this!”
Well, at least I had expected something of that sort here. She wasn’t someone who would go back on her word, however casually made.
A few weeks later, I visited her house again. Things had pretty much sobered up there after her prank with the ice-box. It was a memorial service today.
The officiating priest had already begun speaking.
“Despite her light-hearted nature and her unfortunate impulse to play pranks on people…even when she was dead” Here, he glared at her grandson, whose laughing eyes were just like his grandmother’s, “…she was a wonderful lady and will be remembered. Peace be with all of us.”
A few sniffs were heard. Some heads shook darkly at her irreverence. Death was no laughing matter.
“Consolations can be offered at the lemon tree beneath which her ashes are buried,” a professional-looking woman showed the way.
A few of us rose to offer our prayers to the departed soul. She was our childhood friend, after all, and who could tell whether I’ll have the chance to come here again?
“May your soul rest in peace, my dear” I said, and stepped towards the tree, as the tangy smell of lemons overcame me. In her typical fashion, she had an X marked at the spot where her ashes had to be buried.
Music blared from all the trees.
“Ha ha ha ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive! Ha ha ha ha, stayin’ aliiiiiiiiiiiive!”
Well, she definitely had fun at her funeral.
Can’t say the same for the woman who fainted at both the occasions though.
So hey, that’s my lame attempt at a comeback after months of silence. School sure can get tiring!
Oh, and the songs? “I Want To Break Free” is by Queen and “Stayin’ Alive” is by the Bee Gees. Lots of love to you if you see the connection.
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