I remember, it was during Rajiv Gandhi's demise time ( maybe, few months before or after, in the year 91/92 ), my maternal Grand-father ( a widower ) had passed away. I was not particularly close to him and met him only a few times, whenever, my mother would take us to visit him; mostly during alternate Sundays. He used to have a long white beard, somewhat resembling Rabindranath Tagore - whom, we i.e my sister & I, used to refer him as ( in light humour ), when he was alive. I hadn't gone to his funeral ( I was shit-scared of seeing dead bodies - I still am ), so, my mother had gone. Some years later, in the mid-90's, one of my mother's elder sister passed away. She was only 55 or so - had some stones in her kidney ( or was it the gall-bladder? ). Instead of getting medical aid, her family went instead to some natural-healer, who advised them some alternate therapy of blessed-water method ( to melt the stones ) to heal. Sadly, it didn't work and she died. Again, I didn't go to her funeral ( same reason as above ), my mother did.
After coming back from anyone's funeral, my mother would first ring the door-bell and ask us to bring a bucket of water and only after pouring it over her ( over head/clothes and all ), right at the door-step, she'd enter. Sometimes, if we weren't at home, she'd keep the bucket of water outside, so that after she returned from funeral she could use it - for the same reason. It is supposed to be some ritual, necessary to follow, after visiting any place where there's been a death. The logic behind this is to stop any spirits following or getting attached; even though it might be of someone close ( not sure about it though ). More relatives passed away. But they were distant, so I didn't keep track of them, except those most closest or direct ( either from my mother's side or father's ).
My paternal Grand-mother ( a widow ) passed away next. Even her, I had met only a couple of times and didn't really talk much. I remember, once, she had come to stay at our house, 2-3 years before passing away. But she didn't like it much ( adjusting issues ), so, went to stay at her younger son's ( my uncle ) place instead. She had cancer and even after having a treatment for it she didn't survive. Who survives cancer?
Next, I heard about the death of my Buwa ( father's sister ). She lived in our ancestral village, which I hardly visited. Twice, during my school days, I had gone there for my vacations - though, memory has since long faded ( will try to write a separate post on whatever I remember about that village ). As though death was playing hide and seek - once in my father's side then in my mother's side, next, it was the turn of my mother's youngest brother ( she has 2 brothers and 8 sisters - including her ). He was also in his early fifties and rumoredly died of heart-attack. There's also some spook angle to it, as few months before his death, he'd tell to his eldest sister ( who lived in the same compound but another building ), about some tiny black shadowy-beings disturbing him every night, before or during sleep. He gradually went very secretive about it and didn't divulge anymore. And one day, he was found dead. This was just 2-3 years ago. And one year ago, it was turn of my mother's older brother. He had some BP issues since long, and was gone when he was in his mid-seventies. Around the same time, couple of months here and there, my father's younger brother too expired. He died of cancer, in his sixties. So, of total 5 siblings in my father's side - 3 remains and on mother's side, of total 10 - 7!
Meanwhile I saw back-to-back deaths in neighbourhoods of both my houses. In my native, if two of my immediate neighbours died ( both brothers and both of cancer ), along with our old gas-wala whose little girl literally grew up in our house, in my Bombay house, I saw 3 back-to-back deaths in my building itself - with two from the same floor I lived in and that too ones I had talked to as a courtesy, often. There was a death of a 2 year old kid too, who was my friend's nephew; people I knew really close. And one female, who lived as a tenant at my aunt's place ( not far from my house ), committed suicide within weeks of her brother doing the same. That female, I knew quite well.
I know such things ( deaths ) happen to all, as there'd be hardly a single household in this whole world who hasn't seen any deaths ( see daily news ). But still, the knowledge and reality of it all has only made me more and more aware how temporary our time on earth is. And it is really temporary, believe me! I often find myself asking my mother too these days, if its time for her to go as well. I know it sounds weird, odd or what not, but that's a reality that forever stays in my mind - that, my time too shall come, someday ~ soon.