Darkness. Nothing but.
I can’t feel me. No body. Nothing I can move.
I am but a floating thought.
I must have… left.
I cannot see, cannot taste, cannot smell but… I can… hear.
Voices. Soft murmurs.
One voice was louder than the rest.
“Mother, remember, follow the light on the path you’re treading. Do not follow the people you had known in this life. If grandpa, grandma or uncle, or anyone in our family who are deceased trying to lead you somewhere else, DO NOT follow them. Follow and walk ONLY on the lighted path.”
That’s the voice of my… daughter.
I felt a squeeze in my heart and a feeling of wanting to cry. But there were no eyes to spill the tears and no tears to spill.
My daughter’s voice stopped and I could hear chanting. Oh my favorite prayer, chanted by many voices of my loved ones.
As much as I was curious about what was happening, I made myself still to enjoy and absorb the peace emanated from the melodic words.
Then the same message again. This time in my son’s voice.
“Mother, remember, follow the light on the path… Don’t…”
Followed by the chanting again.
Then the message again. My daughter’s voice.
Again and again and again for what seems like an eternity. Voices of my children, alternating, taking turns in between the chanting.
I don’t know how long it was. Time didn’t seem to exist in the space I found myself in.
All I know was I could listen.
The chanting, the message, the chanting, the message, woven into one harmonious melody.
It must have been forever, until forever finally ended and everything stopped.
Everything. Just stopped. To a standstill.
It was so quiet you could almost hear the Universe wept.
The world, if I could call it that, halted for a few seconds.
And a few seconds later, a door opened, and my 7 days journey began.
Author’s note: It took me a long time to finally sit down and sift through my memories. I have been running away from this piece for a while now. Even as I’m typing this, my mind is pulling me in a different direction.
It has taken me 2 days.
2 days to finish this short piece, because my mind refused to go back.
Something needed to be done. I need to face my feeling, I need to confront it and set myself free.
Having to see and touch my mother’s cold lifeless body has finally taken its toll. Death came. I thought I’ve made peace with him and he left. He did, but he left something behind and I need to excise that bit before it devours me whole.
So here I am. Sitting in front of my laptop. Trying to pull out a piece of glass lodged in my head and heart. Trying to make sense of the whole narrative and perhaps, in the process, learn a thing or two.
Here is a story. Told in my mother’s voice, post-death. This tale will be a fusion of true account laced with fiction. I hope I can provide you a glimpse of my world, my culture and maybe, you can take a thing or two for yourself too.
This is the prologue — the beginning of an end — of the ‘7 Days’ tale.
PS. The scene set in this story is true. My brothers and I, with several other family members, had to chant for 8 hours straight (we took a turn) in the hospital room where my mother’s body was kept for the first 12 hours after her passing. The chanting had to be heard in the room continuously without a break. 8 hours.
And every 30 minutes, my brother (the older one) and I had to take turn whispering instruction in my mother’s ears. In my culture, it is believed that when the body shuts down, the hearing goes last. We believe that in the 8 hours after death, the deceased can still hear us.
My brother and I had to tell my mother to follow the lighted path and not follow anyone even if it’s a familiar family member who had passed away.
And we had to do all this without a trace of sadness in our voice. Tears were out of the question.
In order for my mom to let go of this world and cross over to the other, she must not sense even an inkling of sadness or unwillingness to let go from her loved ones.
That was what we were (my brothers and me) told.
So, whispering in my mother’s ears every 30 minutes. Firm and steady voice, no tears.
I apologize if the author’s note or the PS parts sound a bit incoherent or all over the place. It was very difficult for me to dredge things up and transfer it on the screen.