The yesterday of our tomorrow

The work of the spirited intellectuals
was only to applaud and cheer –
India was so immoral then.
– Kailash Vajpeyi in "A Ritual of Naming"

He was a good atheist, the revolutionary Bhadralok of Bengal. He wanted his corneas to outlive him, and wished that his body be used for scientific purposes. And, by and large, the last wishes of Jyoti Basu (1914-2010) were honoured. However, the learned ideologue forgot to expressly forbid a state funeral. So, his last rites were marked by a queer sight of military bands playing the national anthem, Communist Party of India (Marxist) cadres singing the "Internationale", and some devout Hindu priests blowing inverted conch shells to ensure a safe passage of the departed soul towards eternity. Strange are the ways people deal with the dead – even someone as prominent as the world's first elected head of a communist government.

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Himal Southasian