In the Absence of a Corpse

Soibam Haripriya

So, what should we do in the absence of a corpse?

I heard he died in training
In Bangladesh or Burma
What day do we choose for the Shraddh?
Is this better than the stench ridden corpse?
The son of the neighbour next door
Reclaimed three days late
Death degrading itself into stench

The mother says “He isn’t dead
I haven’t seen his ghost yet
You see, there are no walls to contain the dead
They have to come back”

In the absence of the corpse
How do we convince her
she isn’t a half widow
but a full widow
And you thought half and full
is only the proverbial water in the glass tumbler

In the absence of the corpse
Can’t we get another?
Give it his name and set it ablaze
in his name

Many do come back after the cremation
Not as spectacular as the second coming
But no less a miracle

They come back, sometimes to grief
sometimes to happiness
sometimes to indifference–which is worse than either

You see, sometimes in the absence of a corpse
We are given to too much hope.

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