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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Pyre


It’s a little chilly tonight. The sky is clear, filled with stars appearing like little holes in a black sheet trying to cover a dazzling light on the other side. I am sitting next to my son, who has now stopped crying and is staring rather blankly at the fire, probably waiting for it to die too. I want to console him. But then something stops me. “Death is the biggest truth of life” I had told him a couple of weeks back. Take it as a part of life. Be a man – as I jokingly used to tell him every time he fell from his bicycle and came crying. But that was then.

It’s the same with all departures. You always have things to do, words to tell before you leave. But you leave anyway. It was the same with me. Looking back, there is so much that I wanted to do. So much that I kept pushing to the next day, the next moment. Until I ran out of them. As I sit here, I’m still worried about my wife’s health, my son’s future, my friend’s pension and so many other things. I know there is nothing that I can do about these things now. In fact I know, more than anyone else out there, that there is no point in worrying about these things. But still I find it hard to let go. All our lives we keep building ties that bind us with each other. There are ties of love, promises, duties, responsibilities which stop us from doing so many things. We keep complaining about how little freedom we have because of these ties around us in every form and yet, now that I have been freed of all these ties, I’m longing for them.

I remember my wife’s face today morning. She had been crying at my bedside all night. Her face had become pale. I have no idea when was the last time she had eaten properly. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her and how grateful I was for all that she had done for me all through our married life. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was to have hurt her so many times and how proud I was of all that she had done to help me every single moment. I tried to look at her withered face. A smile on that face meant more to me than anything else in the world. But I could barely keep my eyes open. When I tried to say something, I couldn’t manage to form words. My hands didn’t move.

I had heard all sorts of interpretations about death and what follows it. To me it was the ultimate liberation. I used to think of it as a great light into which a soul would merge, like a lamp merging in the sun. it was the transition from form to the formless, from aakar to nirakaar.

As I look around, I see a few other piers too. People just waking up to the realization that their worldly bindings do not hold anymore. That they have already undertaken their final journeys without having any idea about the direction or the destination. That they are not going home this time. I hope I get to know these people. I hope I can make some fresh bonds.

There is a strange calmness that I am feeling around me now. All my life I had been worried about things. Worried about future, securing the future of my loved ones, accumulating little possessions and the protecting them but now, I have let go. My favorite watch is still showing time, but I am beyond time now. My house is still intact, but I am one with the sky and the wind now. There is something that tells me that I still have some time left before my next journey begins. I do not mind waiting now.

The fire is out. I once again look at my son. He is so much my reflection at his age. I hope he goes on to live a rich and fulfilling life. He has collected the last remains of my body along with the ashes and is preparing to leave now. With his departure, my last connection with the physical world has come to an end. Even though I know this, there is no anguish inside me. I do not make an attempt to stop him from leaving or to go with him. I do not want to change the course of events anymore. I am not becoming peaceful. Now…, I am peace.

As I think of my granddaughter, I recall the incident when I once told her that people who die go into the sky and become stars. She had, in her childish innocence, asked me if I would become a star too, and I had told her that I would. I had also pointed to a location in sky telling her that would be from where I would twinkle smiling at her. I just hope I am allowed to honor my promise.


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