"What is essential is invisible to the eye..." Shekhar liked to quote from The Little Prince. Why I would suddenly recall that on the way to hospital, behind the ambulance that carried Shekhar, I don't really know. It was sometime during that ride that I felt a warm flutter against my face as I sat between our sons in the back seat of our neighbour's car. I intuitively knew that the worst had happened. When we reached the Accident & Emergency Department, a nurse directed us to a waiting room as the doctors tried to resuscitate Shekhar...I involuntarily rocked myself and tried to think. It was impossible. I felt like I was outside myself, observing me, the surroundings and everybody else. Although deep inside I knew...there was a certain peace in waiting, hoping, praying...a lucid break from reality. When the death was called and they allowed us to see Shekhar, the boys and I were unbelieving until we saw him for ourselves...in a moment of clarity, I realized that what made that body Shekhar just wasn't there any more.
Later as the boys and I sat on our bed, dazed and uncomprehending, I looked around the room. Panic rose slowly as it hit me, we lived in a home provided by the organization Shekhar worked for, drove a car that was leased by the organization Shekhar worked for, the boys' education was funded by the organization Shekhar worked for, we were in a foreign country on dependent visas guaranteed by the organization Shekhar worked for...the entire illusion of my life as I knew it was on lease from the organization Shekhar worked for...and now our future depended on the largesse of the organization Shekhar worked for...
Dry eyed and numb, hugging Shekhar's empty jacket, I wandered around the house looking for what we could really say we owned and they were just things. Things that occupy space...in our case, an alien rented space...things we thought were 'essential' to our lives.
When the coroner called to confirm the cause of death and say that a post mortem was not going to be necessary, I only registered the fact that at least Shekhar's body would not be disrespected any more. It was a bizarre moment when I saw him again. This time he lay cold, swollen and alone on a gurney in the Chapel of Rest, dressed in absurd purple robes...the body was Shekhar's but it didn't look like him, it didn't smell like him, it didn't feel like him...I was mourning a stranger. Yet, as his coffin was consigned to the flames, all I wanted to do was save the tangible body through which I knew and loved Shekhar.
I have now understood that life is all about our bodies. They need a home, they need clothes and things, they need to be fed, protected and looked after...just bodies. In essence, we live for our bodies rather than through them. As I look back at the moment of clarity at the time of Shekhar's passing, I realize that the only thing I truly, physically own is this body. It is where I live, it is how I am made visible...but it is just a body. A body that provides the fragile and transient logistics for living a fragile and transient life in a fragile and transient world...while leaving the essential invisible to the eye...
God gave me sunshine
Then showed me my lifeline
I was told it was all mine...
Bodies on my family
Bodies in the way of me
Bodies in the cemetery
And that's the way it's gonna be...
From "Bodies" by Robbie Williams, Brandon Christy and Craig Russo