The town wore a festive look. It had never seen a funeral like this before.
Anybody who was somebody was present there. Along with everybody who aspired to become somebody. They felt happy about this funeral. After all, it gave them an opportunity to be visible. It gave them a platform to get noted. It gave them a chance to speak before a crowd.
They came there wanting to be seen with the martyr. And the crowds came there wanting to see them.
Externally, they all put up a somber appearance. Striving seriously to look grim. To appear shocked and saddened. Sorrowful and pained. Even while being careful not to expose how they really felt. When, in fact, they all knew how each other felt.
Amidst the gathering were also a few people to whom he was dear. People with whom he had shared his joys and sorrows. His aspirations and insecurities. People with whom he had played games. People who had seen him grow up. People who had seen him falter. People who had seen him commit mistakes. People who knew him even when he was just a common man. People who knew him even long before he became a martyr.
And those people close to him, listened to speeches about him by those who hardly knew him. Everyone spoke the right words. Picked the right adjectives. Made the right noises. Stout netas spoke about sacrifice. Corrupt souls preached selfless service. Idiots discoursed emotionally, even as intellects grieved in silence. Who said what and who meant what? Hardly mattered to anyone.
Somewhere in the gathering, also stood the grieving father. He had wanted many things for his son. He had wanted him to be successful. To become respectable. To get married. To become a father. Instead, his son had become a martyr. Something that he never sought for him. But that is how destiny blessed both of them.
The ground was packed, but he felt lonely and weak. It was his son’s funeral, but he felt alien. He wasn’t even allowed to cry. ‘Don’t’, advised those around him. ‘One shouldn’t grieve for martyrs’, he was informed. He was mature. He controlled himself. And the people around him took credit for that too.
He was sad. That was for everyone to see. But unseen to others, he was also uncertain and angry. He had his own doubts. Was his son really a martyr? Martyr is someone who dies for a cause. Victim is someone who gets killed in vain. He was not sure in pursuit of what noble ideals did his loving son return home dead. Instead, he appeared to have paid the penalty for other’s lapses. His life was sacrificed in quest of glory for few others. His dreams were traded in pursuit of the dreams of few others. Few influential others.
And he could do nothing about it.
He was numb. Pained by the loss of his son. Pained that others were oblivious of his loss. Pained of the deceit and drama. And he froze.
And the unaware crowd appreciated that, too. The father had accepted his son’s martyrdom, they declared.
And the spectacle continued.