The Funeral Service For Kamalesh Biswas , Nov. 21,2009

a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen

It was a long time of waiting until his body could be transported from Portugal to Denmark.A very strange way of dying in a strange land during his holiday with his wife!Tnen the final announcement of the funeral service found space in the columns of the newspapers. Those who did not know about his death could still be reached by reading the date of his funeral.

And it finally happened today at one o`clock.I came much earlier inside the church.It was silent except the organist practicing. I came in unnoticed and saw the coffin,standing in front of the altar and the long line up of bouquets and bunches of flowers on the aisle. I sat alone in silence, thanked God for Kamalesh`s life and for God`s blessings for his family. I also prayed that the Lord would bless our song.

I came more than one hour earlier as agreed with the organist that I could practice the song for the second time with my other friend, Jessica. We had to sing the song, Jesus the Same(Hillsong). It was the song requested by Lily and Dan, a song that could best tell about what Kamalesh believes in. It was a new song for me and Jessica. We needed time to listen to You how the song is being sung and know the melody by heart and spent time with the church organist to practice the song. To use the song most suitable for the occasion, I added/wrote this third verse:

There is hope in our hearts
when we cry
over the loss of the one we love
the vacuum in our hearts.

There is peace in our mind
to believe
the Creator holds us all
in the palm of his hands.

We practiced two times with the organist. Everytime I came to this third verse where I sang solo,I could not hold my
tears back.I was scared that during the funeral service I could cry before the crowd while singing.

But the priest, the Rev. Heindrich Pedersen, who officiated the funeral service, gave a very inspiring message which talked of hope and courage in spite of emptiness in our hearts while affirming the promise of the resurrection. He was very good at telling the story of Kamalesh, in Kamalesh`s involvements and his work for peace and reconciliaton,re-echoing the memories of the very joyful Kamalesh.My heart was comforted.

After the alternate of preaching, reading and singing as a congregation with the songs in both Danish and English languages, then it was our time to sing.I am glad Jessica and I delivered the message of the song without sentimentalism but delivering the voice from the heart. I know the Lord has listened to our prayers.

After the singing of the final congregational song, Soon and Very Soon, which Kamalesh was remembered to have sung for the last time in his last worship service, we received the benediction. And then Dan, the eldest of Kamalesh, stood up in front of the crowd and thanked everyone and invited us to coffee after the sending off of Kamalesh body to the cremation site.

Then the very beautiful processional piece played by Søren,the organist, was played.The family of Kamalesh, his brother who came for the funeral from India, plus other men in the church carried the coffin, followed by Lily and the two sons Dan and Mark. The fifteen priests in town, beautifully dressed in their black gowns and white collars followed in the march and then those from every pew followed marching towards the door, many of them, bearing the tears on their eyes.

Outside we stood in silence,looking at the car where the coffin of Kamalesh had to be placed, to be driven to the area where his embalmed body could be cremated. Lily, Dan and Mark and the brother of Kamalesh stood beside the car which in few minutes should drive the dead body of Kamalesh away.I looked on the ground, bearing the grief in my heart,biting my lips. I had to look up and see the gathered crowd.

It was amazing to see the people of different nationalities, people representing different organizations, people from different towns and different churches and even people of different religious backgrounds. More than 400 people! Kamalesh became a rallying point in celebrating life and affirming the common faith in God who is able to give life and able to take it away.

Then we went to the church assembly hall where food and coffee and tea were served. Many joined. The Rev. Jens Christian Fischer Nielsen from Esbjerg led the program. Many came up to share their memories of Kamalesh. There were laughters and also silence as people, each in their own way, began to share their experiences with Kamalesh which they have valued. It was almost five in the afternoon. Then Lily,the wife of Kamalesh, stood up and thanked everyone. Lily`s voice cracked, not hiding the tears in her eyes. Her words moved us. I closed my eyes and thanked God for Kamalesh`s life, a precious gift to many of us!

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