Paying Condolence - Humorous Snippet Friends, Is paying Condolence a simple task? Did this make you muse? Friends, it is absolutely not so simple from my point of view. If someone very close has kicked the bucket, the tears flow naturally and your heart is sure to be heavy with anguish. Under such circumstance, it is simpler to pay condolence. Have you ever been in a situation where you have to offer condolence to someone whom you just acquainted with and his death has not invited any sorrow in your life? Under this circumstance, you have to keep a long sad face, subtle body language and hushed tone to offer condolence. Few of us enact it beautifully, whilst for most of us it is a task by itself, tougher than solving the problems of Physics. Prior to my working days, I had witnessed only three deaths, one of my grand-ma, I was very small at that time. My eyes were filled with tears only coz I could not see my mom break down so heavily. I was holding on to her and asking her not to cry. Then it was my uncle, whom I was very close, so the tears and grief was innate. Later, it was my dad; again I need not explain the grief that had struck me at my prime teens. Well, in all the above situations, it was someone whom I was close to. My working days have been exploring me to the world of marriage and death. With a staff of over 1000, there is always news of either an employee losing one of his relatives / parents or an employee getting married. Saying Congratulations, Happy Married life was no Herculean task. I would flash my pearls with great power, bring some twinkle in my eyes and wish them loudly. The turmoil was when I would hear the poignant news. How do I go about it? A person like me, who is always on a ride, was very difficult. I had made up mind to learn this art. I started observing people around me, who would pay condolence to the grief struck person. During my learning process, I understood it had nothing to do with the feelings either sad or neutral. I have to master the art. I put up a sad appearance, stopped for a few minutes, held a composed body language, stood in front of the guy, waited for him to bring a lump in his throat, slowly extended my hand on his shoulder and said, “Have courage, he is not gone, he is with you, by you, for you, watching you, guiding you…”, before I could finish, the guy collapsed on his chair with loud sobs.. Hey, what did I do? This made him cry louder, did I kindle the wound of nature?!? . Now let me take you to the people whom I have observed very keenly and have picked or sometimes dropped the nuances of paying condolence. Walk with me: When one of my uncles expired, his eldest son was working with a reputed firm. He had few colleagues who had surpassed the ‘Colleague’ Zone and had entered in the ‘Friend’ Zone. One of them was Pal Uncle, a jolly fellow, who carries wits at the tip of his tongue. His presence would enlighten the atmosphere at home. He had the lovely opportunity to sit and chat with my uncle and was a regular visitor on weekends. Whenever I was with my uncle during vacations, I have heard Pal Uncle’s jokes. With my two long plaits, I would be glued in the hall of the house till Pal Uncle takes his leave. Now, the same Pal Uncle had come home to offer condolence. I vividly remember this incident and will never forget all my life. I was reading a book in the verandah of our house and could spot Pal Uncle in the mob of people of a busy street. I ran inside to tell my cousins, immediately every one positioned themselves on different chairs in the room. My eldest cousin decided to take the Sofa. Pal Uncle rang the bell and I spranged it open for him. He immediately flashed a smile at me but withdrew it to a serious downward U. He stood at the door for few seconds then paced towards the hall. I followed him quickly. He sat near my eldest cousin. There was pin drop silence in the house for a minute and half. No one seemed to talk. I too kept myself busy playing with my plaits. The silence was eating me up and it should be the same for every one in the house (I guessed). I slowly fixed my gaze at Pal Uncle. He was holding my brother’s hand and looking down at the floor. May be he has not prepared himself for this EXAM. He finally broke the silence, “Your dad was a thorough gentleman. Cardiac Arrest, dangerous, anytime it can happen, young he was, daughters have to get married, other sons are yet to settle, all responsibilities on your shoulder.” I quickly looked at my brother; he had moist eyes and a lump in his throat. My brother is very egoistic and would never admit, “Even if he was alive, they were my responsibilities being the eldest in the family. Elder brother is like father and elder sister is like mother, you know that. Dad, lived his life fully and died peacefully, no sufferings no bad phases, just gone and I am happy about it”. Pal Uncle realized that the family has come to terms with the grief. “You will be coming to office after the 13<sup>th</sup> day ceremony. Even in our community we have the same functions. It’s the same everywhere, only language matters…..” the room was full of discussions. There was Pal Uuncle at his best, he had the last laugh on the priests who tug people during such emotional setbacks, the debate and discussion was loud and lively. He shook hands with all of us, patted me at my back, asked me about my exams and results and said good bye. Pal Uncle could not be serious for long. That was his personality; he also brought lots of laughter in the house which the walls were dying to hear. My first learning process got engraved in my heart. Now it is my turn to pay my condolence. In my very first job, a senior Peon of the office breathes his last. The staff along with the senior decided to visit his office the same day. It was the first time for me to visit a dead person’s house and I was praying to be the best on that day. We females quickly ran to the wash room and wiped our lipsticks with tissue paper, I had to remove the matching accessories I wore and clipped my hair low. We drove to his home which was a dingy single room in one of the busiest street of Mumbai. There were many people around his home and our visit in Car and Jeeps made them more curious. I could hear few whispers, “Unke Office se aaye hain”. We perched ourselves on the carpet on the floor. My job was to carefully observe the behaviour of the ladies around and copy them. It was my first experience to offer condolence to someone whom I hardly know (he died within days of me joining the organization; he used to do outdoor jobs, so my interaction with him was less). The voice of few senior ladies echoed, “Bade ache the Kasambhai. Daftar se bhi log tashreef laaye hain, unka dostana andaaz ka jawab nahin. Kaam mein man lagate the, beti ki nikah dekhne ki badi umeed or chah thi, bas Allah ke samne ne kisssika chala na chaltha hain. Unko uski zaroorat pad gayee le gaye”. We just nodded our heads and felt bad for the family. The corpse was taken away for cremation and after few minutes we left. God, I had no role to play except “nodding my head in affirmative”. One of my colleagues father expired and he was from our department. I immediately informed my boss and the department was wearing a very sad look. This guy had decided to resume work from the 3<sup>rd</sup> day of his father’s death as the work pressure was high. On the first day itself, we had called up and offered our condolence. His close friends from office had even visited his home. Now it was our turn.. My boss was in a very good mood that day as a very good deal had struck for the organization and so were his colleagues. Now this guy resumes work. We hush around, “Venkatesh has resumed work. Come, let’s go and pay our condolence to him personally”. All of us marched towards him. Venky was a thick bespectacled guy in his mid 40’s whose upper lip was always covered with moustache and eyes were hardly visible coz of his thick spectacles. All that we could see his nose which had flared a bit, may be he is crying!!! We kept looking at him for long time, hoping someone would take the chance of breaking the silence (this is a real task, I say!!). One of us just inched up to him, “Venky, how old was he?” Venky started with a hitch, “Yarly sevunty’s. He was olld but yealthy. He returned from his wakk and had Kapi, then gumplained about pain in chust,” his accent was making many of us laugh. Few of us clenched our palms together but were eagerly gazing at Prakash who had inched up. Prakash avoided glances with us skillfully and continued,” Oh!! Then…” “I cald up the ambulance and gat him admitted, he collapsed in half an havar. His time had come”. Prakash carefully measured his words, “Your mom, how is she coping with it.” “Amma, is in very bad shape. She was looking like Mahalaxmi, with pottu (bindi) and mangalsutra. We cannot look at her.” “Are you the eldest?” “No, No, I have two yelder sisturs and one yelder bredher. Amma has decided to go back to her native house and live alone. My yelder bredher is living close by. He will visit her and we will also go once in a year”. “Have Courage, Venky. It was God’s will. Everything will be alright”. Venky gave a wry smile. Prakash was genious, isn’t it? Suddenly all foot-steps retreated, the big boss was next to us. He hugged Venky and held him for around 20 secs, patted him on his back and asked him if he needs any funds 'release of advance salary’ so that the company can arrange for him. Venkay gave a negative knod. “Just complete balance sheets and get back to me” and walked away. We too moved away. This was more simple, one hug… !!?!! One of my friends boss, had the habit of sending condolence letter to the berieved family. She had a tough time initially to find words as they started sounding monotonous to her own ears. Newspapers came as a Saviour to her. She would dutifully tear the condolence sheet and had started a box file. She also started surfing internet to catch up with lovely words. Her boss was happy but not her. Pal Uncle, Prakash, my boss, my friend and I all tried our best. There are many more who are struggling to find words … Did I not say, it is not so easy to pay condolence, I am still in the learning process… Temporarily I have adopted the HUG method. Happy <st1:city><st1lace>Reading</st1lace></st1:city>!!!!!