"When" Writing - Loved One's Funeral

It’s been a little while but happy to get back into it!

Pastor preaches paddling into the waves of the Black Sea, as we congregate in the church where just last week his son was baptized. Cries echo all around, a merry-go-round of sound, disoriented while trying to hold in my lunch, my eyes a cloudy sky. Eyelids closed, a sleeping beauty, and I can almost hear the beat of his chest and see the belly rising, but it’s wishful thinking because the cousin of sleep has arrived. An open casket reveals the baggage left behind as we hold our breath. The smell is rotten as we try to make sense of the piles of trash sitting in the suitcase.

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Glad to see you back. We all have to take breaks occasionally, and what a subject to come back to! Ha ha. The “waves of the black sea” is a strong image. The “merry-go-round” of sound is an amazing image because it shows time and motion through audible sense. The hidden hope of looking at a made-up corpse is really a neat image because I think most of us can identify with that. Looking at something that looks so uncannily real, but knowing it is not. The rotten smell at the end and the knowing it’s time to move on is a great way to end it. Well done.

Cars zoom past no doubt late to return to pushed back emails and soon starting meetings. Humboldt Ave.’s Wednesday is on schedule as gardeners work on their farmer’s tan in between the occasional café buzzing to life in mid-day warmth. I think the weather didn’t get today’s memo. The elderly serve as reminders as I calculate my statistical misfortune with each one in a hypothetical morbid version of Blackjack Card Counting–+21 years, +5 years, +33 years. Guess the game is rigged, I don’t see any minuses; they’ve already left the table. Mom puts us on scout duty for Halbert…or did she say Hubert, Hunart? On the second pass, we find it across from a dive bar reeking of spilled Tuesday specials that we’ll get the griever’s discount at later—they know the drill. I hold the heavy door, a faux kindness, as my family enters a battleground of flowers and formaldehyde. Thick oak stands over budget carpet squares barring us from entry until a young man in a practiced voice gives us his monologue. A stitched lifeless corpse lies cold under a hand-sewn blanket. My shoulders tense in expectation as I seek out the exits, waiting for the cameras to pop out with my real dad and announce the cruel joke. Only sobs fill the empty minutes. My stomach somersaults when no doors open, no cameras pop in. Under that ornate quilt is my dad after-all.

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First half of this is very tell-y, I used this quote in this very thread before but I think its a great reference point “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” However! that being said from

this onwards you really start to show the scene of this funeral. The line “Only sobs fill the empty minutes” is a nice, really shows the hollow feeling that can come with grief.

My naked feet stabbed by the gravels on the burning road as we walked towards the cremation ground, our hearts heavier than the body we carried. The priest started chanting his mantras in a monotonous rhythm, having recited the same thing uncountable times as he we laid the body on the pile of irregular wood. My elder brother carried the torch, and the fire pounced on the pyre with a whoosh, the cackle of fire ringing throughout the ground as it creeped upwards consuming the body, the pervasive smell of burning flesh stirred my empty stomach. All my tears vaporised as the fire took it’s final form, an uncontrollable roar and dance on death, leaving just the taste of salt and ash.

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One thing I have realised about writing is that where the word goes or what is describing is less important then its mere presence in a sentence. For example, including the word naked adds a strong colour to the sentence that is not only effective in describing your feet, but also adds a tone of nakedness as a metaphor for your vulnerability and exposed humanity. I love how you introduce the monotonic rhythm that provides a sensory backing track to the disorientation of such an occasion. A very visceral cremation scene on the pyre which brings back memories of my travelling through Varanasi a few years ago. I remember being struck by such a direct approach to death in India, and I think you have captured it very beautifully through your writing - well done!

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This has some really nice lines throughout!

Hearts heavier than the body we carried.
and the entire last line

That is some really beautiful imagery and shows the beauty conveyed by fires “dancing” and sadness with the salt and ash that death carries.

My only suggestion would be when talking about the pile of wood, maybe be more specific, were they irregular bits of cedar? or was it perhaps just scrap wood gathered from old shop pallets? It’s a tiny thing but I think when words like that can be utilised right it can put a meaning behind the whole event if that makes sense?

Anyways! really nice job @Homesh_Rawat

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