Farid’s Words

I never understood how I got to be so lucky to have an older brother like Bhaya. I mean: this is someone whose death inspired someone who had met for an hour to cry all day. So I’ve been trying to think of what Bhaya would have said about himself at his own memorial service. The thing is – I’m not sure he would have talked about himself at all. He probably would have taken this time to thank us all – individually and collectively – for further sharpening his already high-definition appreciation of life. He might have made some statement about how the cancer was worse for all the rest of us than it was for him. We would have protested, and he would have smiled at our protest. But saying that the cancer wasn’t so bad after all is the most that he’d probably have spoken about himself. Instead he might have used this occasion to arrive at some unlikely and preposterous match-making suggestion, between the two most improbable people in the room. As you all probably know, he only saw the good in people. It’s not that he didn’t know that people were whole – a complicated bundle of flaws and properties. But the flaws were just a bit irrelevant to him – it’s not that he tried to overlook them, he just naturally filtered them out. He had this kind of x-ray vision for human goodness. It was the good that shined most brightly; his company then made it shine even brighter. This, in turn, is what made the matchmaking so preposterous. And the love that he generated – the love that flowed from him to the world and back in copious chaotic quantities – was directly related to this preposterous matchmaking. We would have laughed at him, he would have laughed back at our laughing at him. And then he would have asked us to continue the preposterous matchmaking. Then he might have taken this time to share one of his innumerable enjoyable crack-pot schemes that were also money-making ideas that were also ways of making the world a better place. I think there were hundreds of these, over the last year or so, but the last was that of cookie chess – every time you take your opponent’s piece, you eat it. He informed me of this scheme a few weeks ago, on the way back from the hospital where he had been infused with his latest treatment. It’s a bit like “strip poker with edible underwear”, he clarified. He would have shared such a scheme – or one like this — with us today – and we would have laughed again. Partly cause the scheme was brilliant, partly because it was, like his matchmaking, preposterous. And he would have loved being laughed at again. Again, he would have laughed at our laughter. And he would have wanted us to continue the laughter and the scheming and the matchmaking. Of course he’d liked us to include him. In the average conversation, he would have liked one of us to say “This is what Omar would have said”, “This is what Omar would have done”. And then he would have liked another one of us to laugh at this idea, and at him. He would want to be included in an easy way, with no difference in tone, without any effort, without a forced air of solemnity or sorrow, not like he’s a historical figure, or a saint, or a shadow, or a perfection, but as the real and whole person that he was: an source of joy and ideas and solace and entertainment and guidance. It’s not that he’d tell us not to grieve – he’d want us to experience it to the fullest, to accept as it came, and deal with it in our own individual ways, while remaining utterly true to ourselves. And then he’d want us to turn it into a kind of fuel – a spiritual propeller for loving the world: loving the world of people, loving the world of ideas, loving the world of fun. And he’d want us to start practising that today – if not at a wake then at a wake-like event, where the extremities of grief become indistinguishable from a celebration of life.

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