Life after life - when the dead tell tales
What do you call that utterly dry and non-sentimental attitude to
things and happenings around you? “ Matter of fact” attitude? I am not
sure of that term but what I am sure is that for a good number of years
I suffered from it, especially as regards the topic, Life after Life.
Pic courtesy: Youtube
For me the Dead are dead, stone dead and never come back in any
form.Perhaps, that I, born to a fervent Buddhist family, rural too,
bordering even on primeval life, could own to such a statement may
approximate to blasphemy. But bear with me, my simple argument was that
no one in my circle or even outside that has encountered anybody who
returned from the world of the dead. Just show me or make me meet one
solitary individual who has orchestrated such an incredible return. This
piece is about one who has returned to gush with an anecdote about her
earlier miserable life. Anyway, a book acted as the medium, a book on
reincarnation. Twelve such re-incarnated stories were boxed. I was
offered the book for translation but I just sat on it. Perhaps it was a
mere whim or the antipathy to the content matter. Decided that the whole
panoramic content on re-incarnation was all bogus and manufactured
stuff. Skepticism at its maximum.
But yet I read it for books fascinate me. And it did contain many an
interesting and even amusing episode. There was the dandy of the village
who flirted with many a village damsel but he dies succumbing to a train
accident on the Colombo - Matara railway. Brimful of life he rides not
in the train but outside it and falls to his death.
Years pass. Many a dead person including him are now forgotten and
there is a grand party in his village and the women are enjoying
themselves. A little boy scampers about and finally jumps on the lap of
a once coveted beauty in the village now turned a matronly ma. The boy
in a prattling lisp asks the woman, “Maggie? Can’t you remember? I was
once your darling and about to marry you too? Then I fell off a train
But nothing could convince me. I leafed through the pages and came to
the story of a girl of about 10 years. Her story was pathetic. She had
been a very ill patient in her past birth and had been killed by her
husband to share the bed with a new found healthy partner. Going into
details she reveals that she had been a teacher and she recounts the
agony she had gone through as sickness gripped her and as her husband
began to torment her. The headmistress of the school she taught in had
been her only saviour and many an evening she would walk to the latter’s
large house sited in a coconut estate to pour out her grievances. As I
read on, I felt that I was on familiar ground, unlike in the case of the
The time context that back-staged her life belonged to the 1940
decade. She had mentioned an area that I will not reproduce here for
obvious reasons and in that area at that time there had been only two
headmistresses, a fact that I deduced from the educational data of the
backward area. The house and the coconut estate were very familiar to me
for its owner was my favourite aunt. That she befriended a harassed soul
did not come as a shock to me for she was so kind and motherly.
Everything fitted to a Tee and I decided to investigate the matter.By
this time my aunt was dead and gone and her youngest son had become the
lord and master of the house. I approached him about the issue.
“Malli. I just want to know something. When you were small, did a
teacher in amma’s school come here and cry in the evenings?”
“Akka!” he almost burst out, “You bring up some strange things. Yes.
Now that you remind me of it, yes, that happened. But how did you know
about it? You were all in the upcountry at that time”
“I read it all in a book”.
“Really? That woman was murdered later. Anyway you do rake up strange
“I was a little brat then, getting bored in that big house for all my
elder siblings were boarded in Colombo. I longed for some entertainment
and the sight of this sobbing person was grand entertainment to me.
Moment she came in, in the evenings I would run to amma’s lap to give
“To her narrative of all the maltreatments she had received at the
hands of her husband. One day he will kill me, she used to say often in
between her sobs. Father often warned amma not to encourage her too
much. This situation will end up in a terrible debacle, thaththa
prophesied. A true prophesy indeed. The details given by my cousin
tallied with all the details given by the re-born girl in Piliyandala
and produced in that book. Piliyandala and the venue of the earlier
happenings were miles apart I must add.
The poor woman had been hospitalized by her husband but the real
facts lay encased only in her memory. Dead of night she, now turned very
feeble through starvation had been taken to the well and bathed and she
had developed influenza. Later she had passed away. Some attempts had
been made to rake up a case of attempted murder but it had fallen foul
as the man, the sinning murderer was very influential. Now the victim
however had started talking in her next birth but no one, not even those
on the rostrum, takes the statements made by the dead and the reborn as
truth. And here is an after remark. My cousin pledged me not to write to
the newspapers in a way that the roles could be recognized.
“Why are you so afraid?” I asked adding that the crime had taken
place many years back and is now erased from popular memory.
“But life goes on,” he answered. “The rascal re-married and had sons
who are all good businessmen in town. I don’t want my relationship with
them soured”. He himself was dabbling in motor sales business.
So life goes on, malli ruminated and even After Life goes on. Perhaps
that girl herself may be a teacher by now. Any disbeliefs I had about
LIFE after Life too, needless to say, have evaporated not because I am
of a faith whose cardinal concepts are topped by the concept of rebirth
but since here was concrete evidence pertaining to a murdered woman,
traumatized for years too. And the irony is that the perpetrator of the
crime has not got any punishment and now is prosperous in town too.
Injustice in the world seems to obliterate the justice. Further in the
context of modern happenings too, the truth remains, that of the truth
how easily the female folk gets victimised by brutes.