Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Black and White

Five of us, trying to catch the evasive sight of the other amidst a sea of traffic and pedestrians. Me, one in a black van, one in a white van, one dead and one starting a new life. And a silent conversation that continues to give me the goose bumps to this day.

It had been a wonderful day and while the sun was going down the horizon, we packed our bags to leave the town. I was sitting in the open cargo area of a pick up van. The van was moving in a sluggish manner due to congested traffic. And then it stopped. I never bothered about what had happened as my eyes fell on two vehicles behind us. One towards our left and the other to the right. One a black van and the other a white.

How black came to be associated with something bad I would not know then. Yes, the black one was a hearse van and the decorated white one would be carrying a happy family is what I instantly realized.

I casually peeked into the white van and saw a middle-aged man sitting on the front seat. He smiled. He looked content and a happy man. But no big fuss about the wonderful occasion in the family. Out of the corner of my eye I dared to look inside the black van and saw another middle-aged man full of distress. Tears rolling down his eyes shinning under the bright street lights. He recognized my presence with watery eyes and I gave a nod perhaps trying to be a part of his distraught moment. And then the two men looked at each other. One trying to console the other and the other rubbing of his tears to give a half-hearted yet a completely honest smile to the other. Its great to see how human beings console and accept the other in such times while at other times they just cannot stand each other.

And then I looked up on the black van. A silhouette, I assumed to be of the person who had left the family prematurely. Happy to part away from the material world but sad to leave the family. The man looking at the silhouette and praying with the last gasp of hope to see the dead return. The other man looking at the silhouette but oblivious to the fact that it is the dead person.

Out of curiosity I looked up on the white van. Another figure happy to start a new life. The man looking at the figure and perhaps praying not to leave him till his end. And then I saw a tear in his eyes. The other man looking at this figure and wondering what was it was doing. And then the two outlines looking to each other. I would never know what they said to each other.

And then our vehicle started and slowly the others diminished in presence and I came to my senses. It has been seven years since the incident happened. But it still haunts me in a way.

Did the two men know each other?
Who had died?
Was it his wife or child or a parent?
Under what circumstance had the person died and what would be the impact on the ones left behind?
Why was the other man praying?
Why was there a tear in his eyes?
What was the other figure?
What did the two silhouette's say to each other?
More than anything else I still wonder why would I have to be a part of it?

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