People who saw her thought she must be one of the 'remnant'. A refined old lady with wool-white hair, a sharp mind, a smiling face and a wonderful grasp of the scriptures. There was something about Sister Vacha that suggested she was a cut above everyone else.
An affluent and dignified Parsi woman who became a Jehovah's Witness, perhaps in the 1960's or the 50s... not sure when exactly, she was one of the most dedicated women in the circuit. Anticipating Armageddon, she never married. She so much wanted to be part of the great crowd who would never die at all. If only she knew the kind of end that was in store for her!
She kept on serving Jehovah for year after year, tirelessly. As she grew older, she naturally had to seek help and support from her relatives, who were unbelievers. Or perhaps she relied upon Jehovah's expressive promise that He would never forsake His ageing faithful ones. And yet he did.
Sister Vacha, even though advancing in years, would always come for the meetings and tried her best to render service, though obviously, she was no longer in a position to do as much as she once did. She was lonely, as you can imagine, she lived by herself in her room, while the other rooms in her apartment were inhabited by her relatives, who did not bother much with her anyway.
About once in a year, I would go and visit her, carrying bars of chocolates she so loved. Hardly anyone of the Witnesses would drop by and visit her, and I could see in her heart the unspoken disappointment brought on by a failed promise.
So gradually, by herself, the faithful old woman decayed. Her meeting attendance started to suffer, and her mental health too was not sound anymore. Even her rare appearances to the Kingdom Hall altogether ceased.
During the last few weeks of her life, I believe she was just left rotting inside her room, with almost no attention from anyone. I wonder what she ate, I wonder how she cleaned. I can understand why her actual relatives did not wish to take care of her. But here, even those who called themselves her spiritual family could not be bothered.
One evening, after many months in which we conveniently put Sister Vacha out of our minds (save for the few brothers who prayed for her health publicly) we received the news that she had expired. She would be electrically cremated, it was revealed. As the congregation started arriving in for the funeral talk, I can never put into words the sight that awaited all of us.
Her lifeless body had bent into the most painful-to-see and unnatural of positions. Her back was terribly curved, best described as being in a suffering foetal position, which not only suggested that she had spent the last few hours in that wretched state, but also that her death was discovered hours afterwards. Thus, in all probability, she breathed her last with no human on her side to witness the moment of her passing.
No matter what, the brothers could not get the corpse to straighten up. So there she lay before the world to see, an obstinate shape, curled up like a shrimp on a slab of cold stone. It was enough to send chills down our spines. No dignity, no ceremony, no shred of respect for this lifelong servant of Jehovah.
The brother who gave the funeral talk extolled Sister Vacha's exemplary life. He highlighted her sacrifices, his own happy experiences with her, her faith and service to Jehovah, and how anyone who serves Jehovah can be assured that he would never abandon them. All through the talk, it appeared as if the eyes of the audience was not on the speaker, but on the horribly mangled remains of a dignified lady, an excellent person - as they contemplated, hearts aghast, her terrible end. The thought that was going in through each one of our friends' minds was, 'Could that be 'me' some years hence?'
It was at that time that we realized that the corpse was saying something to us, through words unuttered: Look what I got for being faithful. To all those who said you were my brothers and sisters and who'd not abandon me, I say, Look!'
Only one sister had the courage to admit afterwards, 'Oh, what did any of us ever do for Sister Vacha? All of us should seek Jehovah's forgiveness.'
It was then that a sister, who was a regular pioneer, brushed away any guilt feelings that crept up in her, and said, 'What a shame she did not will any of her property to the Society.'
Maybe if she had, she would have met with a more dignified end.