I Respect You Because They Say I *Have* To

Whenever I walk into a friend/colleague/relative’s house, I often see fake-garlanded, black-and-white framed photographs on the walls. They almost always turn out to be the departed grandparents of someone living in the house. In my mom’s house there is a photograph of her younger brother, who passed away at a very young age (members of my generation in the family never got to meet him). 

I remember I once expressed a little wish to have some of our (i.e., the alive ones) photos framed, so that they could adorn the walls of my house. My grandmother was opposed to this idea and forbade me to talk about such things. 
To be framed was a privilege of the dead. 
Another incident I remember is, I hung a poster of Leonardo DiCaprio above a shelf in my bedroom. Then I put plastic flowers (flowers were a bad idea, as I later realized), plastic hearts and little Archies teddies on the shelf. Now I must mention, in this particular picture, DiCaprio’s hair appeared to be a very deep shade of brown, which probably led my grandmother to believe he was Indian (possibly a classmate!) because I had an awkward conversation with her when she asked me “How did he die?” (*laughing as I type this*) and (*suspicious voice*) “Was he special to me?” Oh yes, so special! But, believe me, an affair with him in my grandmother’s imagination – still better than him not being aware of my sorry existence! (I took down that poster, nevertheless. *wiped a little tear from the corner of my eye*)

I have digressed from the topic with that irrelevant paragraph above (but I just had to tell that story!) Why do we really hang pictures of those who are no more? 
To remember them? Yes. 
To remind ourselves that they were once a part of our lives but not anymore? Could be, but that borders a bit on self-torture. 

Or is it because society expects us to worship those ancestors who are no more, because, you know, they are your elders, and they may be dead, but are watching over you and if you don’t respect those lovely, rusted (possibly with iron nails sticking out, that may cause tetanus if not handled properly!) frames – no, you will not be haunted, but – you will be reborn as a worm in a pig’s belly!

Now as my reader(s?) know, I love slinging mud at society and it’s baseless (often laughter-inducing) rules. So obviously, I am gonna pull at this last reason.

Assume there is someone (possibly from an older generation) who is planning to leave you a lot of wealth, or their skin color is unacceptable to you, or has just got into your wrong books for some or no solid reason. Assume you can’t wait for this person to pass on to the next world (or get reincarnated somewhere really far from you; depends on what you believe!) When this person finally (for lack of a better expression) dies, would you still hang their garlanded, framed photograph on your lime-washed walls? Yes, because, come on, you’re in mourning (bas dikhawa!). Yes, you were totally mean to them when they were alive, but who cares, you invested in a plastic garland (or even a real garland; maybe you were in a generous mood). And a really nice spot on the wall. That’s not hypocritical at all. In the eyes of the society, you have honored them, respected them and that’s exactly what they deserve.

On a serious note, who are you kidding?! Honor those, who are alive. If you love them, tell them when they can hear you. If you hate them or if they hated you, they might haunt you, and a picture on the wall isn’t gonna scare them.

How does it matter how you treat a photograph of someone who is dead, when you couldn’t treat them right when they were alive?


10 thoughts on “I Respect You Because They Say I *Have* To

  1. Tomichan Matheikal November 29, 2013 / 5:23 PM

    True, it's no use showing love to the pictures of the dead; it's far better and more challenging to love those nearby.


  2. Sreesha Divakaran November 29, 2013 / 5:28 PM

    Exactly; and what's the point crying fake tears over someone whom you hated!


  3. Preethi Venugopal November 29, 2013 / 6:25 PM

    I agree with your view…The living loved ones need to be told that they are special to us and are cherished. I believe that seeing the photo of someone who has passed on garlanded, is the worst sort of torture we can give ourselves. Always reminding ourselves that we have lost them…:(


  4. SG November 29, 2013 / 6:33 PM

    Very well written. We should treat our elders with respect and love when they are alive. I would even tell one more thing. People do not treat their parents well and do not feed them properly. But after their death, they will do the annual ceremony (shrardh) regularly and feed the priests all the favorite food of his parents. Hypocrisy.


  5. Sreesha Divakaran November 29, 2013 / 6:48 PM

    Exactly. Torturous, and yet expected, because if you don't hang that photograph, people are gonna tell you that you never loved them. Too much hue and cry!


  6. mithunkesav November 30, 2013 / 8:13 AM

    Interesting read Sreesha. You are right, there are many things in life that doesn't make sense at all. People just follow things taught to them without any thought. Your last sentence says it all. Keep writing.


  7. Sreesha Divakaran November 30, 2013 / 3:57 PM

    Hey Mithun! Thanks for dropping by and for your encouraging words 🙂


  8. srijan bhardwaj November 30, 2013 / 5:45 PM

    fake tears,
    crystal clear..
    the real dear,
    forever near..!!

    Don't laugh…! This was the first and honest thought! Well penned!! 😉 😀


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