“In memory of Jhon Biswas.” The photo is of a person in his 50s, smiling at the camera. That’s how Jessica knows that she had made a mistake. It’s not funeral she was told to attain. This is not her uncle’s funeral. This is some other man’s funeral. She looks around and couldn’t find a known face. Like she wouldn’t fine one in her uncle’s funeral. What’s the difference then? Nothing.
She looks around once again. No one’s looking at her, guess that’s a good thing. This is not helping with her social anxiety. The only fear in her life now seems like someone coming up to her and making what they call “small talks”. What would she say if anyone asks her what Jhon Biswas to her? Umm a stranger?
When she was too busy with her train of thoughts, someone brushes up to shoulder and mutters a small “sorry”. She tried to say “no problem.” but it came as a whisper. She saw a bench a little far away from where the actual funeral was taking place, there a woman and an old man sat in silence. She walks up to there and sits with them thinking this is best way to avoid the crowd. This doesn’t matter now, she will spend her time in this bench under this quite tree,
somewhere from here her uncle’s funeral may be taken place but it’s not like she wanted to go there! It was her mom who pushed her to take that flight from London and come here in Kolkata to attain the funeral.
She thinks about the dead body of her uncle. It’s so still and cold in her mind, just like when he was alive. Cold and always trying to put others in a certain sets rule by his what he used to call “critical mind”. “Jessica you can’t laugh too much it’s a sign of infancy” “Jessica why don’t you have any friends?” “Don’t go out with those girls, they will ruin your future and I’m not paying for nothing.” But the cruellest one was Jessica remembers “If your father was alive today, he wouldn’t please to see how you turned up to be a worthless human being.” Is she really worthless? All she did in her life was denied by her uncle at every moment of life. She couldn’t please him and at certain
point she stopped caring. But her mother didn’t. It’s the burden, Jessica knows her mother only felt the burden of her uncle paying the money. She wished her father was alive, like she did many times in her life. She was really young when her father died, leaving her and her mother alone. Other than her uncle, who decided to take all the expenses. What seemed like genuine offer of helping hand reaching up in darkness, later became the suffocating walls of a dark room.
She feels oddly happy in that moment. She’s happy that her uncle died. Even he was really old in the last days but those eyes, those eyes of disappointment never dimmed. There were so many times she thought of taking out those eyes. When she moved into London after getting a job offer, she thought she was free from all this, but his uncle’s queries never stopped. Even though he was not paying any money he always made sure to make them feel, there’s a moral debt that need to be paid. Even though he couldn’t control her life anymore, but just the thought of trying made Jessica sick. She heard how his uncle died. It was a heart blockage, and she remembers the smile that appeared on her face that night after hearing the news. So, it’s better to spend her time here among these strangers then going there to her own people, who are not any less than strangers.
Her phone rings tearing up the silence in the air and everyone looks at her, she presses the silence button and can hear her own chest thudding from her heart beat. She mouths “sorry” and nods a little and everyone gets back to their business. She lets out a heavy breath and looks up to the mobile screen. It’s her mom. She probably thinking why she didn’t reach the funeral yet. She will
not pick up her call. She remembers argument they had regarding coming to her uncle’s funeral. She can tolerate another one, she thought.
“Mothers, always causing
This came from the person sitting next to Jessica. She’s a woman in her 30s, Jessica thought. If she is not totally wrong. She smiles a little at the lady, although she felt like it’s wrong in this atmosphere. She hoped that the conversation will be limited to there. But the lady sticks out her hand towards her “I’m Anvi.”
She takes her small hand in hers and shakes it a little “I’m Jessica.”
“It’s nice to meet you Jessica.” The woman was talking to her but Jessica noticed that her eyes are looking straight. Also, she noticed that this lady was strikingly captivating to look at. Maybe a little older than Jessica.
“Likewise.” Jessica says like a whisper.
Then came the question she was most afraid of.
“Who was Jhon to you?”
Jessica thinks for a moment and remember the picture she saw earlier. Jhon Biswas was wearing suite like he works in an office. She takes her chance and says “We worked together. I didn’t know him well though but I’m really sorry for your loss.”
“Oh, I’m his wife by the way.”
This made Jessica turn his head to her once again. She didn’t look like she would be that man’s wife. She looks too young to be his wife. And why is she sitting here in the far. So many questions started forming in her brain but a fear started rising in her head too. She will definitely catch her lie.
“I’m sorry I didn’t know that.”
“That’s fine most of his colleague doesn’t know me. Our marriage was new you see.”
Jessica didn’t know how to continue this conversation. She was always bad at making conversations. But she was relieved that her lie wasn’t a bad one.
The lady continues “It was a love marriage. You know how they say love has no boundaries. It’s quite true for us. Even though he was double of my age, we somehow connected.”
“That’s great!” as soon as she said that she realises that this sounds wrong. “I mean that’s great that you two found love in each other but I’m also deeply sorry that you didn’t get to spend much time with him.”
There was no respond from the other side and Jessica thought that she said the wrong things.
“How did he die?” again a mistake but Anvi didn’t find anything suspicious as she replies-
“Over dose of sleeping peels.”
“He had sleeping problems?”
“yeah, he did. Some nights he couldn’t sleep and I would sing him songs and tell him stories just to relax.”
“Wow you really loved him.” This came naturally from Jessica as she thought the same.
“I did love him. I loved him at his worst. You know people says I married him because of his money. Which is not true. I married him because I loved being the only source of happiness to him."