Our flat complex has about one hundred and twenty flats. It's about six years old. The occupancy is about eighty percent. More than half of the residents are tenants thanks to the reputed school nearby. The age profile of the parents of the tenant families is in the forties with one or two kids studying in the school nearby. The composition of the other residents is mixed.
I have been staying here for the past five years. The events which took place during the past years include celebration of festivals like Onam and New Year. The parties celebrating house warming and birthdays were generally conducted in the common hall provided. But we never experienced an unmanageable crowd on any such occasion. Even the cars and other vehicles of the guests could be parked in the guest parking area and on the road beside the flat complex.
There are at least ten flats with senior members like me. We have a seniors' chat forum in the evenings to discuss general topics from weather to politics. One among us died of a heart attack. A notice with his photo was pasted on the board kept in the foyer. The news was flashed through the WhatsApp group also. The funeral was scheduled at 3 pm on the second day. All local dailies carried the news in their obituary columns. There was a stream of visitors right from morning. The man who bid his final adieu had a lot of friends and relatives, it seemed.
I found something peculiar. A group of people clad in white landed at the foyer in three SUVs. They were ushered in to the party hall where the body was kept. One among them moved near the next of kin of the deceased with folded hands. He had a scarf like cloth around the neck over his kurta which fell well below the knee. It had a particular colour. A couple of members of the team carried a fairly big floral wreath with the names of the party and the leader prominently displayed. I never knew of any political allegiance of the man who passed away. It took a little while for me to realize that it was election time and the man with the coloured scarf was a candidate who was fighting election from our constituency. My assumption was confirmed when one among them took a few photographs of the candidate with the bereaved family members. Since there were a number of wreaths over the body, they were removed on first come first go basis to avoid strain on the "body".
The opposition party team came almost within half an hour in similar fashion. They had brought a floral bouquet made of white flowers. The inevitable item of the procedure was again the photograph of the candidate hugging the daughter of the deceased.
Since our constituency was having a triangular contest, I was expecting the third candidate anytime. My guess was correct. He did come, but a bit late. The caravan arrived when the body was about to be taken out of the hall towards the Ambulance. They had come with the team of TV reporters of their party mouth piece who were covering the candidate's propaganda tour like a walk the talk program. The candidate took the opportunity to grab the chance by holding one end of the stretcher carrying the body which the videographers captured without fail.
The evening local news of the party channel showed the clippings in the "day with the candidate" program. The pictures of the other candidates appeared prominently in the pages of the local news paper the next day.
That evening, as usual, the seniors of the flat complex gathered near the children's park for a lazy walk and easy chat. The caretaker also joined to share his views and to bluff on his gloats. He told us that he had never seen so many cars coming into the flat complex for any occasion. We all felt sorry for the death of one amongst us.
Then the loud mouth caretaker remarked, "The right time to die is just before elections. That would certainly ensure a grand farewell by all parties concerned......" Many of us nodded in agreement silently.......