We had one last mournful look at her serene face before the trolley carrying her frail, lifeless body was pushed into the gas furnace. As the door of the furnace slowly closed shut, I could see the flame engulfing her hair and flesh and I remembered her words that the root of all our desire and misery would be the first ones to be consumed by fire once we are dead. An agonizing wait of an hour and my mother’s mortal remains were delivered to us in a small pot completely reduced to ashes. My weather-beaten elder brother, who scaled his bureaucratic peak as the Chief Secretary of the Government of Tamilnadu after weathering many a storm, was totally aghast. He merely said that it was all so ridiculous if this was to be the climax of our life. Quite a few of you might remember my thread http://www.indusladies.com/forums/cheeniyas-senile-ramblings/7727-a-life-in-reverse-5.html in which I had raised a similar issue. It is about 48 hours since my mother attained divinity through her death. Only in my previous thread about my Navarathri Reminiscences, I had mentioned of my mother’s disappointment about her not being blessed with a daughter and about how she brought me up as a daughter during my childhood. Little did I realise then that I might have to write her obituary in my very next thread. She was as amazing in her death as she used to be throughout her life. Her terminal illness was brief but her pain was apparently very acute. This was probably due to the violent battle that her frail body waged to retain the life that kept it going for 96 years and her life wanting to break free from her worn out body. But if she had any pain as was bound to be caused by such an epic battle, she hardly betrayed it and bore it with dignity. I have never known her to have nursed a fear of death till the end. She spent her last few days preparing for her death as if she was about to take a pilgrimage though she knew that this time it was going to be to a place whence she would never return. She was only particular that at least few of us should be around her when she left on her Great Journey. Accordingly all of us kept constant vigil to witness her departure. But man only proposes but it is God Who disposes. When the fateful moment arrived, only my wife was near her while the rest of us were attending to some personal or official chore or the other. Even my wife who was standing next to her when her breathing subsided, could hardly notice it as it was so natural, peaceful and bereft of all fuss. There is no one to call me a child any more. I feel as if a decade has been added to my age. The sudden void created in our lives can never be filled. All her memories come rushing back to me. I can see her sitting on my lap with her hands around me when I was a lad of five asking me why should she be petting me all the time and not vice versa even for once.(Naanthan unnai konjinde irukkunuma? Neeyumthan ennai konjam konjen!) Even in her deep attachment, she was restrained and detached. She never let her attachment grow into an ugly passion and consequently she was never possessive about anyone or anything. That was probably the reason that her relationship with my wife remained peaceful and loving during their entire 42 years of association. All of us could see the love that she had earned from everyone when we saw my 13 year granddaughter crying uncontrollably for three hours sitting next to her body. Death has only snatched away her body from us but her spirit will continue to live in us for eternity. I now see that greatness does not come from doing great things. I now know the meaning of acquiring greatness. Greatness is inherent in everyone but it can become visible only if we restrain unbecoming thoughts and negative emotions from covering it and making it invisible. My mother’s attitude towards her death cannot be explained better than in the words of Khalil Gibran: For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, That it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?