A Decent Burial

I have mentioned before about the fact that most of my fond memories revolve around my brother who is about six years younger than me. He’s a very special child sensitive and intelligent with unique interests.

One of few things that he is passionate about is wildlife – for years I never saw him watch anything else on television beyond National Geographic, Discovery and Animal Planet. He devours pages after pages of books on animals and birds and rattles off their Latin names and their unique behaviours in an excited tone equivalent to “everyone on earth has just landed gold”. He has always had birds as pets at home and brings up their babies and their babies’ babies with tons of love and affection. I can still remember the excited glint in his eye as a middle school-er when he discovered the first batch of eggs his friends had laid, his crushing disappointment when a clutch failed and his over whelming joy at the sight of new born chicks.

It’s amazing to see him interact with his birds – they respond to his voice, play with him, communicate their worries as parents when a clutch of eggs are laid, let him clean and monitor the health of their new born babies – birds can be so much more personal and attached than one can imagine.

When we moved into a flat of our own in Bangalore after years of travelling through cities and various neighbourhoods, one of first things that we did was to convert his balcony into a well equipped aviary complete with rounded mud pots for nests, nesting material, lovely bowls for food , a smallish tub for them to have a bath and a smaller private area for those who need some space alone because of sickness or injury or plain simple maladjustment.

One of the biggest things that this lovely relationship has taught my brother is “death”. He experienced his first encounter with this heart wrenching separation when he was about 12 years old. One of his birds had fallen very sick and no amount of care could nurse Maco back to health. It almost broke all our hearts to see Maco’s partner hover around his body, trying to wake him up. Its a scene that’s burned in my memory like no other.

After some time when Maco’s partner had reconciled, my dad went ahead to take Maco out of the aviary and proceeded to wrap him in a newspaper and a plastic bag to “dispose”.

“Dispose”??!!!! My brother was extremely angry – now combined with the sadness of this loss you can just imagine how red his face could have gone. In his own words he wanted a “decent burial” which was “respectful”.

And so this Sunday morning was spent performing Maco’s last rites. After a few minutes of searching my brother and my dad zeroed in on a burial spot on an empty plot of land. My dad dug up a small grave while my brother put Maco in. They offered a fist of earth each as a token and said a few silent prayers before covering the grave with earth. To end the ceremony, they planted a small sapling of a bush nearby over Maco’s grave.

Losing a loved one is very sad, but giving a “decent burial” full of love and respect is indeed one of the best treasures of life. It’s a lovely acknowledgment of their moving on in their journey; an acceptance of their passing into another world and a higher plane.

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8 responses

  1. Neha

    πŸ™‚ god bless Maco..and i think a big cheers your brother! guess living close to nature def made you more ‘real’ about life…death..to feel its pain, see its naturalness and then moving on!
    i really like this post…

    August 18, 2007 at 4:35 am

  2. Keren

    You were right L, it did strike a chord. Its beautifully written and almost makes me think of it as though I had lost my first dog all over again. Animals can sometimes be so much more sensitive than us humans.

    August 18, 2007 at 5:58 am

  3. Meghana

    Hey lakshmi, Its a very sensitively written piece! And to think i read it at a time when i ve myself been thinking of the issue of death makes me feel dat theres certainly an underlying message…to learn the pure and simple truths, get back to the basics, get back to nature!! Proud of your dad and brother!!

    August 20, 2007 at 8:05 am

  4. churningthewordmill

    hey..a well written piece!but u took awfully long to write it!:P

    August 20, 2007 at 5:12 pm

  5. Hi Lakshmi, thanks for dropping by. A nice touching post. I read recently that people who have pets at home are less prone to diseases.It’s natural to see your brother’s feelings. Viji

    August 21, 2007 at 4:52 am

  6. Hi Lakshmi,
    This was really very touching. I admire your brother’s love for wild life and animals/birds.
    Lakshmi when you commented on my blog for Tandoori platter, I mistook you for Latha’s (yum blog )daughter, whose name is also Lakshmi πŸ™‚
    I have deleted my reply to your comment and written a fresh reply. My mistake sorry:)
    Thanks Lakshmi for visiting my blog and do visit again. This time I will be more careful πŸ˜€ )))

    August 23, 2007 at 2:23 am

  7. Sudeshna

    Hey Lax, BEAUTIFUL is what comes to my mind… am myself an animal lover and your piece so reminded me of my own experiences with my pets (parrot, dogs, cats and rabbits to name a few) and the eventual “coming to term” with their death… Nothing in life is transient, but emotions, feelings and memories give us that sense of deja’ vu… keep penning down your thoughts and you will always have an audience in me [:)]…Cheers!!

    August 23, 2007 at 3:56 pm

  8. hey loved this post!! so touching… true what every one needs is a decent goodbye!

    n guess we all did that as kids… these small moments mean so much!

    you have good taste… the blog looks simple, yet graceful

    August 30, 2007 at 10:14 am

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