Vultures and funerals

They chop arms to take away bangles and cut fingers to take away rings. You see these people scavenging for the leftovers of accident victims. People propelled by greed.

What about those who work stealthily and use death?

Just like vultures in Parsi deaths prey on corpses, these people prey on mourners. It isn’t to express sorrow but to use that sorrow to further their agendas.

It could be as harmless as a family friend wanting to discuss a rishta for me years ago when my Nani died. Everyone knew how close I was to her, but this hawk-like woman was evaluating me. And right there, as my Nani lay and my tears would not stop, she went up to my mother and said, “Aapki beti mujhe pasand hai, yeh sab nipat jaaye tau phir kuchch baat chalaa sakte hai.(I like your daughter, once you are done with the funeral we can talk about it)”

Ammi was in shock. She managed to mumble that this was not the right time and I made my own decisions.

A few years ago a close relative died. Her sister, who we rarely met, followed me to the kitchen where I was getting some water for the visitors. “Do you know of any good girl for my son? You know so many people…” I could not believe it. Her sister, barely a couple of years older, lay dead in the next room and this is what she could think about? She repeated this performance at the kabristan even before the body was buried.

A little over a week ago, something similar happened. This vulture behaviour is way too cunning. Someone I know lost his sister. He sent an email to a friend, a woman he has known for years but who he says he has been barely in touch with. In a way the guy’s behaviour was equally predator like. She is not even in the same city in the foreign country they live in, so why did he think it important enough? “I knew she would be polite because she wants to be in touch with me.”


“She wrote back to say she was sorry.”

Anyone would. But there had been undercurrents in their relationship earlier, and she had made her intentions clear. She asked him for gifts, and he sent them. Gestures. He is big on them. Maybe it is a game he likes playing – to keep things covertly active so that you can tap resources when you are running dry. She had publicly declared her feelings, naming him, after receiving a gift that she had supposedly demanded. “This is how she talks to all men,” he had said. For personal reasons, he later told her to remove it.

There was nothing going on except a few emails…and then this one. Soon after that note, she did what any true-blue vulture does. She broke her silence and again publicly addressed him with poems – one for the death and then like a bee filled with the honey of her intent she stung him with the tried and tested Neruda, “I will die of love because I love you,/Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.”

She also managed to sneak in a verse from the book he had earlier sent:

“Write to me,” it ends.

His emotional body, now numb and dead, was being revived by the lard of the syrupy weight she carried. For one who claims the soul matters, she spreads herself and the dough-like form waddles across his screen in many pixels – thighs, breasts, chins and folds of belly. She is desperate, and there is every reason to feel sorry for her. Partly, he does. He says, “I don’t dislike her”, which is hardly what one would say about a friend who you feel the need to inform about the death of one so dear to you.

He enjoys the attention. He is the cadaver with beak marks all over his body feeling for the moment that his grief will be purged through those holes. The vulture holds a piece of flesh and chews on it, slowly, slowly, and watches through wrinkled eyes for when he might wake up and give her what she wants.

He is biding time. “I can get whatever I want,” he says. As easy as that. Right now, of course, he is still clothed in black emotions of the loss. But he has also gained along the way. Been given choices.

The cadaver may become a vulture and the vulture will merely change beaks, like cars change gears.

Is it any wonder that no one mourns for vultures?


  1. Your blog reminds me of a Punjabi term "Marna te parne naal naal chaldne ne"" ...means death and marriages go alongside....
    I believe that thousands of years of our evolvement as humans and this entire investment of what is called "society" stands at risk, our animal instincts have been camofloughed ..but they remain.. we still fight for food , now showcased as career, like two hungry dogs on street ..our instinct of territorial supermacy is still as raw...aka raj T or Kashmir... our hormonal push to mate has also not evolved , has just been hidden under the carpet though .....are we as evolved as humans as we think ....i think to the contrary, some recent trends show otherwise...looks like we have started our journey backwards...Thoughts ....Cheers ...Manish

  2. Funerals and death are like tv seriels,all your examples show superficial society

  3. Manish:

    It is more than moving backwards; these things are overlooked. In fact it is here that I will question the validity of gestures.


    At least with TV serials we can switch off th set or change channels.


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