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Feasting for the Dead

Feasting for the Dead

Uddipana Goswami

She died, he died, they died—
And we all went to the feast.

It’s a feast like any other feast
Like a marriage feast, or like a little boy’s
Shaving-the-head feast, or even
Like a young girl’s coming-of-age feast.

Yes, we also feast as a little girl bleeds
And we tell her we hope
She continues to bleed every month
Till she has bred a hundred sons, or at least,
In this day and age, one.

A rite of passage like another
When our next-door-neighbour died.
One passes on to the possibility
Of bearing new life
The other, passed away
Having bred three sons, two daughters
And quite a bit of bother—
A bank loan to cover the medical expenses
Of her prolonged illness
The stink of bedsores and
An awful lot of moans and groans
Which her children are sure
Will haunt them for years to come.

That morning,
When the nurse said she’d died
In her sleep, the eldest son
Nearly smiled.
Then they all cried and said
What a great mother she had been.

Yet, death is a social occasion as any.

So she died
And we all went to the feast.


Uddipana Goswami is a poet and writer based in Guwahati, Assam. Her books include a poetry collection, We Called the River Red: Poems from a Violent Homeland (Author’s P), and an edited volume, Indira Goswami: Passion and the Pain (Spectrum). She edits the online magazine North East Review.

Uddipana Goswami