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Scenes Around The Pyre

when a crocodile eats the sun007

Yesterday, a Sunday that was clear and bright, I managed to clean up the little space of my veranda after long neglect. Maybe the sight of people down the pagoda (which is right across my flat) making hurried motion of setting tables and chairs under a tent and installing a funeral pyre behind it gave me the impetus to reconnect with my interior world, and to look at the gnawing state of decay evinced by dry and weed-choked plants on various vases and coat of dust and heaps of bone-dry leaves on the floor. I started by sweeping off the dust onto a dustpan, the task punctuated with vigorous tapping of the broom’s end against the rail at every interval, after which I uprooted the weeds from every vase where they sprouted and the sight of a clean dark soil somehow mirrored a clear and uncluttered mind, and then lastly I gave the floor a good swipe of mop. I felt relieved to put one concern behind.

By evening, the cremation ceremony was in progress. I slid shut the glass windows and doors around the living room just in case the smoke from the pyre would drift in my direction. It was like shielding myself from contamination of death even though a large chunk of my waking hours have been a constant wrangling with thoughts of mortality. In fact, I find myself plodding on Peter Godwin’s, When a Crocodile Eats The Sun, an intense and illuminating memoir that chronicles the author’s relationship with his aging parents and his homeland Zimbabwe through its days of tumult and disintegration in the 80s and 90s. I’m so particularly taken by the stoic and gut-wrenching opening narrative of his father’s arrival to the family estate in a box. It’s a slow read on my part given the demand of mundane cares and riot of distractions. Meantime, at that time I was revisiting Sam Mendes’s film, Revolutionary Road, after I took a blue ray copy from the mall earlier. I’m glad that I made the right choice of watching it again as it heightened my view of human frailties and life’s general drift towards the unpredictable and tragic end. The last scenes of Leonardo DiCaprio running through the road of his genteel suburban home and sitting on a park bench in another town lonely and defeated by the loss of his wife, played by the brilliant Kate Winslet, are exquisitely telling and poignant. And to think that beyond the confines of reel world there’s so much more struggles to head off in many levels of existence.