Chasing life after death- A walk through a cemetery

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“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.”- Carol Bishop Hipps

I have never been fond of summer light. As a kid, I have always been fascinated by Winter. After all, I am a November born child. I like the chilly breeze that runs down through my spine, the dryness of the air, the cracks that swirl through my body, the roughness of my lips. Winters alight the passion, intertwining my fingers like the woolen fabric of a knitted sweater. Winter also symbolizes the death, the end of human emotions. The anger, the love, the  jealousies, it’s all about the finish line. How can one not love the winter. Can there be anything more sweet than death? You would never know, until you cross the threshold… until you discover the life after death!

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Finding that answer, felt like a responsibility when @srinistuff urged us to visit the grave, where now the music legend- Jim Morrison sleeps. Off course, meeting the literary celebrity Oscar Wilde in person offered another personal achievement. But notions abound. What is it worth to visit a graveyard? Why celebrate death, when we are here alive? My mind was filled with scattered images of those horrible graves and dead bodies that doted those Bollywood and Hollywood flicks? Why on earth would I want to visit a cemetery and spend time understanding the death of some of the best men on the earth. But the tourist v/s traveler debate got the better off me. I am in PARIS! Why not visit Paris’ dead? After all it’s Paree- the divine intervention in my otherwise chronic Mumbai life? Oh, how I hate this city even more! Oh, how I love Paree… Oui.. this is Paree…. The questions seemed to flutter in air.. as I stepped into a life after death……

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As most of the new things in this world, chasing life after death seems scary. But what, if I told you, that it is perhaps the most beautiful thing to go chasing in Paris? Life looks so mundane. Life looks pretty easy. It’s almost absurd that you thank your life for giving you a chance to indulge in a foreplay with life after death, while you are still alive. The graves are a tribute to the lives lived, the voices that shrieked, to the loud mouths, to the liars, to the hopeless romantics and willful sinners. But it’s almost alarming.

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You treat life well. Death will treat you well. But life after death is all the same. The colours of fall at the Père Lachaise Cemetery, remind you. In life after death, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Oh, wait! It’s the wild child calling. You feel the literary giant wake within. You fall in love with his prose, just as you like his poetry. His words thrust upon a sensuous fragrance, his presence overpowering yours. The poet and his musician, both dead in their graves, pose a question to you. All your life becomes a lie. You belittle people, you scar them. You drink wine, you sin gleefully. At this point, the life comes haunting back at you.

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Is this real? Because this feels weird. For the first time in your life, you are not scared  of death. You moan your life. The craving for life after death is strong. The crackling beneath your feet marks the beginning of a whirlwind romance. You begin to seek something better than life. May be for the first time ever, you think beyond all your deceit and lies. You seek freedom in the graves of unknown. You know they might have not lived well, but they died for something better.

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“Look at your life. Turn behind. You have so many bonds. You can keep them on,” the mind chides. The heart slowly beginning to realize the futility of its existence, starts dancing to the rhythm of Jim’s tune.

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No one here, gets alive anyway”- Jim Morrison

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We come, we go. Why do we suffer to conquer? After all these years of mortal existence, we fight to still be rich, powerful, mindful, peaceful. Why After death comes, life again. After chaos, comes sunshine here again. That’s the rule of nature. So why fight, why shy? Just be weird, even if it is for a single sigh!

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And then, I wandered around aimless from one grave to another, something caught my eyes. It filled me with a sense of wonder and joy. Crunching, crackling, golden autumn leaves, spiraling, swaying away in breeze, reminding me of the eternal truth. There’s not to worry much. There’s no reason to cry. Life is too important, to be taken seriously anyway. Hold on to, as much as you can. But don’t be afraid to fall. After all, it’s the nature’s way of telling you……

~~~~”There is beauty in falling too.”~~~~

A note on Père Lachaise: Acclaimed as the most visited Cemetery in the world, it’s next to impossible to be moved by a visit to the 44 hectare acre sculpted garden. Ornate with 70,000 ostentatious, tombs of the rich, famous and sometimes the unknown, this place is where the rock star Jim Morrison’s grave rests, along with my personal favorite Oscar Wilde (the man, who doesn’t sometimes know, what he’s saying!). The cemetery is classified into divisions, the most famous being division 6 and 89 respectively, where the stalwarts now rest in peace.  Another interesting factoid for the history buff is definitely the tale of Mur des Fédérés (Wall of the Federalists). On 27 May 1871, the last of the Communard insurgents, cornered by government forces, fought a hopeless, all-night battle among the tombstones. In the morning, the 147 survivors were lined up against this completely ordinary, plain brick wall, shot, and buried where they fell in a mass grave. Commemorative memorials to those who died during almost every other war in modern history lie opposite to form an emotive alleyway- one that cannot be escaped!

4 thoughts on “Chasing life after death- A walk through a cemetery

  1. I visited the South Park Street Cemetery in Calcutta during a visit last month, and it remains a wonderful memory. The architecture, the history, the lives that rest there…cemeteries are beautiful testaments to the circle of life. Lovely post! xx


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