Death in the Family

Last updated 2016-04-11 09:33:31 SGT

They got his age wrong
for the sign
put at the door.

They let us keep the photo which for these three days
stood at his feet in silent vigil — this he took.
As casket rolls out from below my uncle — he
a grandfather himself — puts up his hand and waves
goodbye — and for a while he is again a boy
who, bidding farewell as his father turns to leave,
cannot but wish he change his mind and turn around.

The doors swing shut with mechanised precision.

With serene adult dignity the in-laws weep
but now his children will be children for a while.

My father breaks down. My father! From whom for these few years I have seen no emotion but forced mirth and suppressed rage and disguised despair and I have no recollection of ever having seen him so much as shed a single tear and now he is sobbing before me and I cannot bear to look.

We leave — I run into my uncle and he turns
and there it is, clutched in his arms — I lock eyes with
the smiling image of a younger man than me.


­­— John 11:25-26, Delegates’ Version.