or The Death in the Family Post
Back in 199… I was a graduate student just months into a programme in the University situated in the miserable market town I have told you about before. I was doing little studying and was basically spending huge amounts on overseas phonecalls, to Jod. So, I decided to put my (little grant) money to better use and I booked a ticket to Compatridia for a long weekend: the amount for a return air ticket was what I would spend in a single month of phonecalls on the cheap plan, anyway.
So, I got on the plane, one of those flights that arrive in ungodly hours (the other option was a flight leaving in ungodly hours). During the flight I suddenly thought of my grandfather, for no apparent reason. Otherwise, my thoughts were dominated by the prospect of sex. That was the reason I was going to Compatridia incognito.
Arriving at the airport I immediately realised there was something seriously wrong. Jod announced to me that my grandfather had died hours ago and that my parents were looking for me. I cursed obscenely and violently along the lines of “there goes the incognito long weekend”. Jod got angry, assuming that I was just playing macho, masking my grief behind expletives. Honestly, at that moment, my only grief was for a wasted time of sweet loving, and so on… So, we went to a hotel (under no circumstances would I go to my parents’ home), we slept, I got up in the morning.
I left the suitcase with Jod and put on my clothes from the previous night. I caught the train to the city centre, on the way to the cemetery, skipping my parents’ (and, definitely, my grandparents’) home, but I decided to ring them. A good idea, but a bit late. My mother was in a shock, she had actually feared I had somehow perished along with my late namesake, in a cruel twist of fate. When I made it clear to her that I had not, we fixed an appointment in the cemetery.
I arrive there by bus, unshaven, in abused jeans and the miserable blue sweater I yearned to get off me as soon as possible. Most of the clan was there, my father’s family, the proud and obstinate bunch, the fallen bourgeois nostalgic of the Imperial Capital, the family in which you were either in charge, or sweet or an intellectual. My grandfather was the second of four siblings, all named to mark historic events of their birthyear: 1908, 1910, 1913, 1918, by the same weird godfather. Granpa would joke he was lucky not to be named ‘Comet’ or ‘Halley’. Before I enter the room where they keep the dead before the service — whatever this place is called — my mother’s brother stops me.
“Welcome back. You will see your granpa dead.”
“Yes, I know.”
“Have you seen a dead person before?”
“Can you handle it?”
Except for the natural sorrow, I had no problem with that. Around the casket were seated granpa’s relatives. As I had never in my life seen 1908, I approached a woman looking like her — although she was in an extremely youthful shape for someone around her 80s.
“Hello, aunt 1908.”
“Hello dear. I am her daughter, Jucunda.”
Jucunda being back then in her 50s, it must have been the least flattering thing she had heard in her life. I felt an utter idiot. Exactly then 1908 came back from the loo…
Immediately people noticed me. They stopped paying attention to the person the funeral was organised for and made a series of assumptions:
His grandson is here. So, he flew in on a very short notice (1910 was not really ill or anything). He looks like crap. So, he dropped everything to be here, for the funeral. Ain’t that sweet?
So, everybody gathered around that sweet poor soul, so attached to his grandfather — which I was known to be. Nobody knew what it was that had really brought me there, besides coincidence.