I was 15 when I first saw the rays of the setting sun falling on the marble gravestone. That memory brings me back to St Stephen’s cemetery in Bandra. It’s been many years. It is still warm.
Each inscription tells a tale of love. Of passions locked. Of tears shed profusely over dead dreams. Dreams of infants that closed their eyes to the world. Or was it an intervention that saved them from its lust? It is their graves that stir the waves inside me. I catch myself marveling at those enormous eyes smiling back, as I read words written in a feeble attempt of immortality. I weep in madness over what my mind conjures up as injustice or unfairness. And then I laugh at my worldly notions of justice. Those eyes didn’t see my tears either. Tears stained in the lusts of the world and its ambitions. They are like the ocean across the cemetery, just salty waters polluted in the pursuit of beauty. So they must flow in search of an infinite redemption.
This cemetery never depresses me. Should this death invoke all that fear? There are worse things. Like dying within someone’s heart. When you cease to exist in the thoughts, dreams and the past of a loved. When you are not remembered. When your gravestone inside their hearts does not have any inscription. No fond remembrances. The tears never shed, the goodbyes never said. Just a cold white stone of a forgotten memory. I should be scared of being a bad memory after I die inside a loving heart. That’s a bad bad death.
Carrying graves of people inside hearts is scarier than a worst nightmare. They mostly die either while pursuing happiness or plotting a betrayal. Irony that is. Some betray one for another so to feel happier, only to eventually feel more miserable than before. It’s marvelous how much we are possessive about momentary happinesses, somehow, more than our dreams. Or perhaps happiness is a rare treasure like the one Alibaba stumbled upon. Then he didn’t want to let it go. It became his chief ambition that stripped him of his joys. Like him, we don’t want to sacrifice it over anyone. So the weight of graves seems lighter, the treasure of happiness heavier while joys disappear.
I come back here in retrospection. To see if that 15-year old is still around inside. I come back to read the inscription of a living memory of a girl who hadn’t seen the world yet. And when I do find her, it gives me joy. She helps me remember people, and the inscriptions on their graves. She leads me by the hand and makes me recall the first sun rays after the hide-and-seek of the moon or the innocence of two emotions meeting at the horizon.
You see cemeteries are not for grief. They are not reminders of losses but of existence of short-lived loves; sorrows; joys; friendships. They are pleasant memoirs of the brevity of joys. Even the setting sun returns to pay its tribute to this one inscription without fail. It’s like poetry. It bleeds yet never tells.
Cemetery should not depress. I would rather weep over those who died inside my heart. A cemetery is a tangible testimony of emotions. What better could I ask for in a passing world?