As I sat on my veranda, letting the radiance of winter warm my back, my eyes yielded inevitably to the secretion of my tear glands. The window of my vision loomed in a series of events stacked on my memory shelf. I was flooded with emotions.
The slightest sight of the speck of wooden miniature hut on the distant hillock stirred my emotions. It lay partially curtained by a cluster of pine trees standing tall. The steep gradient remain evenly carpeted with brownish winter grass. I was fervently cursing myself for the failure of my ears to hear a story of the lone dweller. How did my eyes fail to cast a glance upon that miniature hut?
As demanding as the situation seemed, we, seven ladies took an uphill stride. We tuned our pace to the galloping dusk. A few of them were gasping. Everyone lighted the flashlights of their cell phones. The hut lay eerily silent as its surroundings. I could only hear the water trickling from a pipe a few meters away from the hut.
The crack-laden wooden door was exactly of my height. Incessant calls and knocks on the door didn't even stir the dweller inside. We gazed blankly into each others' eyes. With due permission from Aum Tshogpa (village head), who was also present with us, we decided to forcefully open the door. Our only male companion descended back home to get a crowbar to implement the idea.
We later on discovered that the door wasn't latched from inside. Instead, a stout stick was laid perfectly against the door. But the room was empty. It only instilled in us only the feeling of abrupt absence of any household activities for the last couple of days. The mud-built, ash-filled oven lay overcast with gloomy soot. A few piles of dried twigs lay in close proximity but without any signs of it being burnt. The room looked completely deranged with clothes and household items lying haphazardly all around. The entire room was a cacophony of stillness and grief.
Everyone looked hesitant at our next attempt. Could he be lying in the only adjacent room? Could he be still inhaling? Could he have breathed his last? These were the queries that nagged our brains at the moment. We were led by Rai daju (brother). I followed him. I didn't care whether I will be plagued with stigmas and social obligation associated with dead bodies. The only thing that occurred to me was, I want to help the old man if he is in any way not devoid of life. As he flipped aside the rugged clothing, it brought into our sight the scene.
The scene that greeted my vision for the next couple of seconds is going to haunt me for quite some time. I try not to but the scene keeps on recurring so often. Let this scene occupy a recess in my brain. Let this be a reminder of transiency of life. Let this be a source of contemplating change in life.
Neatly slid under the rosy red blanket was Agey Kezang. We were expecting some signs of him being alive. But his body lay still as his walking stick. One of his legs seemed to be folded slightly, as indicative of his protruded knee-cap. The only part visible was a part of his forehead. To our despair, there wasn't any ray of him being alive.
We somehow confirmed that death has taken its toll on the old man. The only form of activity seems to be after his death. It was an utterly disturbing scene to see the serene /body underneath being laid over by cat's excreta. What was even more distressing was the fact that the cat has vomited blood admixed with a slimy mass of flesh. We couldn't proceed further for closer inspection for the scene was so nerve-wracking.
The moment aftermath was so disturbing that I stood in my sitting room with the time ticking closer to midnight. The recurring scene squeezed my tear glands that I inadvertently yielded to its copious secretion. I stopped abruptly for a thought of our age old tradition did strike me. It is believed that we will obscure their path thereafter if we cry after a departed soul. Fighting hard between whether to cling onto the belief or not, I ran to my small altar room. I prepared and lighted a butter lamp, praying for the radiance to guide him through his path. My prayers that followed were in fervent wish for his soul to be elevated to the heavenly realm.
And more to it in the coming days. I am delving a little deeper into Agey Kezang's extraordinary tale, which I will be bringing forth in a few days...