Friday, March 03, 2006

Life, and then death

When i used to read more often, i managed to finish a few pages of 'The Discovery of India' by Jawaharlal Nehru (I still have the book, and must finish it one day). He had written many section and pages of the book while in prison during the fight of independence from the British, and one of the statements struck me was 'Death is the birth right' (i may be paraphrasing). This statement remained imprinted in my mind.

Although not a fanatic, my theological mind, and hindu upbringing, also gave me an opportunity to read, understand and deliberate on some verses from the Bhagavad Gita. And among many that are outstanding, and some that are volume unto itself, one that best conveyed the meaning of death was "nainam chindanti sastrani nainam dahati pa-vakah na chainam kledayantyapo na shosa yatimarutah". It means, the soul cannot be cut to pieces by a weapon or asthra, nor can it be burnt by fire, it cannot be touched or cleansed by water, and the wind cannot dry it either. Powerful. The moment you realise full meaning of this statement, the pain, the sorrow, the belonging, the attachment, the ache in the heart just doesn't matter that much.

But then if i did fully realise that, and lived up to expectation of the person who spoke these words, how different would i be from him. And so as a mere mortal, i can only seek some solace from these words, and attempt to look at life tomorrow, as i shed a tear every now and then, with that ache in the heart, of person i knew, who left their mark in this world.

Today, i lost an aunt. Well, the aunt should be read from an Indian context, my dad's second cousin's wife. But someone who i knew through my childhood here in madras. It was not that she had played a role in my life, that created this feeling in me. But more because of the role she played in her life. She lost her husband, who died on his way back from Sabarimala after his annual pilgrimage trip, and was left to fend for herself, her three children, a mountain of debt, and house unfinished and still not fully their own. Today she is survived by her three children, all married, quite settled and with kids of their own, the home fully paid for. Her path to this day, was not easy, was paved with jealous and sometimes unhelpful relatives. But she didnt give up, she remained resolute and made something of her life. No i am not elevating her to a hero or something, but i think she did something incredible. I am happy because, my parents played a big role in standing by her side.

But then we parted ways, and life as usual caught up with us, and each had to do different things. But two days back, my mom called indicating 'raji-aunty' is sick and the doctors have given up hope. She wanted to go see her. I had promised to go with her on Friday afternoon. But, then she did visit her, with my sister on thursday itself. And they indicated that she was doing better than expected, but still serious state. I mentally made a note to make it a point to go see her today (saturday). Early this morning, at 6am, my mother phone rang, and i somehow knew what the message was. She died early this morning. And now, she is referred to as a 'body'.

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