memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Posts tagged ‘hindus funeral pyre’

And death shall have no dominion (1)

I sometimes wonder what will happen to me after I’m gone. Oh I know what will happen to my corporeal self. My body will be either buried or cremated.

If the former, I will moulder lifeless in my wooden coffin and the worms shall grow fat upon my substance and gradually decompose to a skeleton, which in turn will slowly decay and crumble.

If the latter, the whole process  will be speeded up and that same afternoon I will have become a sort of grey dust or ash (ferrous compounds, calcium and various phosphates etc.) and placed in a neat little niche in the local cemetery or wherever the whim takes my family – scattering the ash in a corner of a foreign field that is forever England perhaps, or over the sea from a ferry-boat or even, heaven forbid, stashed in an urn and placed on the mantle-piece in the living room – by the way, have you met my late father-in-law?

The ancient Pharoes of Egypt used to not only have themselves embalmed and mummified (but not without first having their brains removed – presumably they wouldn’t be needing them anymore where they were going), but also the odd trusted councillor and unlucky servant was put to death and embalmed and even their favourite pets, dogs and cats and hamsters to keep them company on their journey across the sky each day. Oh, and household furniture, oils and unguents and any nick-nacks that they might need, (so that when astonished archaeologists eventually broke into their tombs about three thousand years later they found what looked a huge IKEA warehouse of objects turned into gold).

The Hindus used to carry their loved ones down to the river Ganges and build a large pyre to burn them in cleansing fire. Sometimes the loyal wives of the deceased would let themselves be persuaded to commit Suttee.

Anyway as I was saying I’ve got no problem with all that stuff. I accept the physical aspect of death. No, my problem is what will happen to my immortal soul?

OLD MAN – OIL-PAINTING by THOMAS MILNER

(to be continued)

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