Saturday, April 2, 2011
I am terribly scared of ghosts. No idea whether they exist or not-nor do I want to find out! I have never seen one (Touchwood!) but I have done my fair share of experimentations with Ouija boards and stuff like that. I refuse to watch horror movies simply because if I do watch one, then for atleast a month I keep looking over my shoulder, imagining unknown monsters lurking in dark corners or unseen eyes that follow my every move. Call me naïve or gullible but the fact is that I hover somewhere on the middle ground when it comes to believing in ghosts and spirits. So it is indeed a little surprising that I actually like hanging around in graveyards.
I have never been to a cremation ground but I imagine that it won’t be a pretty site to witness. But on the other hand, I somehow feel that a graveyard is very peaceful. Back home in Chennai, the Kilpauk cemetery is home to some near and dear ones. So it gets a little too personal for me and I don’t really fancy going there unless I have to pay my tributes or to get buried myself. But there is another really old cemetery behind St.Geroge’s Cathedral on Cathedral Road. It was just behind my school and I have spent many a afternoon wandering among tombstones, much to my mother's chagrin!
Once inside the cemetery it is easy to forget that you are in the middle of one of the busiest roads in Chennai. All the hustle and bustle of Mount Road fades away and you are engulfed in a blanket of peace and serenity. It is an island of tranquility, with a green canopy and sun-dappled cool spots. The graveyard has lots of greenery-probably because all the plants and trees get ample nourishment?-and it is really calm and quiet in there. All you can hear is the rustle of leaves and the chirping of birds.
Some of the tombs date back to the pre-independence era while some are relatively new. Some are well maintained with flowers and melted candles surrounding them, while others have been long forgotten and are crumbling to ruins. Some have been built with expensive marble and gleaming granite while others are more humble with just a slab of plain cement. I wander around these tombs, pausing here and there to read the epitaphs. Some epitaphs are poetic or elaborate while some are terse and formal. I look at the birth and death dates, figure how many years the person has lived and wonder at their lives. Who was this person who has become one with the Earth now? I try to imagine what his/her life was like. Did they get to achieve all their dreams and hopes before they died – or were there any unfulfilled wishes? There lies a lifetime ensconced in a 6 feet wooden box deep down under the grass. A lifetime filled with what? Smiles and laughter, joy and contentment? Or tears, disappointments and failures? I only hope that it was the former.
Please Note: A graveyard, as I said can be pretty desolate. So if anybody is tempted to explore, especially if you are alone, do make sure that you stick to the more open and brighter areas. Be aware of your surroundings and resist the urge to drift away into some obscure corners. No, not because an evil spirit is going to possess you. Sometimes in life one needs to be more careful of the living than the dead. If you notice someone observing you or loitering around you then better make a quick exit!
On a completey different note, someone told me that there is a belief in India that our dead ancestors come back as ravens, which is why they are served food during special days. So when I was in the cemetery I noticed loads of ravens all around. Think there is any connection?
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