Friday, August 04, 2006
Morning rain falls on an unprepared mind... A mind still warm to dreamy possibilities suggested cozily during the previous night's slumber... A mind not yet hardened by the workday's fumes of numbness, treachery and carbon monoxide... It falls like dew on daisy petals and stays quivering like an odd question. It falls deep with its icy searching silver hands looking to awaken something within you... To raise again memories that have remained aslumber for many monsoons now... It coerces a foggy mind to remember things best left alone... Thoughts in rain-washed green of an old couple - now asleep in mountain slopes where no rain shall disturb! Memories of two simple lives destroyed by circumstances way bigger than them... Of my lost faith - a faith nursed in rituals, refined by reading, then abruptly sentenced to death young like a lynched village-robber!
There's nothing sadder than the lonely death of a simpleton... A man who could write his name in shaky Tamil letters with nicotine stained hands without pride or comprehension... A man who believed in ghosts, exorcism, afterlife and the ability of airplanes to sprinkle chemicals to impregnate clouds with rain... A man who could regale you with tall tales of tigers in the forest on yonder hill and how they steal cattle from the settlements... Tales of how Arjuna rides the clouds when thuder strikes and how in the underground Pandava temple near Katabettu over the hill, one could hear Draupadi weep quietly on rainy days... Tales whose veracity you questioned at twelve only to realize at twenty five that they were true at least to the narrator... As real and looming as the eternal fear of policemen violating an immigrant nest and confine its humble dwellers in camps full of hunger and destruction... Or banish them to an island full of war, violence and uncertainty... A simple man dying far away from where perchance his brethren might have bemoaned his passing...
My uncle was a simple man - a barely literate man married to the eldest sister of five erudite, proud brothers - an outsider silenced, pushed around and reminded often of his inadequacies! His quirky ways, quaint and magical to the unprejudiced eyes of us children, were a constant irritant to the other adults in the family. I remember his distributing cakes during my aunt's funeral much to the shock of those gathered - all he could see were the hungry children and cake would do just fine! Unlike most others gathered, he didn't have to show his love for the dead woman in his tears... He had done that in her lifetime despite hardships! In a household where the learned men deigned it an insult to wash their own dinner plates, my uncle woke up at 5am to cook a breakfast for his wife and daughter. In their own inimitable way, he and my dearest aunt made the happiest home I have seen in my life - a home supported by hard labour in the jungle slopes well into their sixties! A home where poverty and struggles were hidden from my child's eyes by laughter and love... There was always fish curry because I liked it - heaven knows where the money came from. And every summer, we were allowed to buy brightly coloured chicken in the weekend market though I never remember any of the lasting till the next summer. And at night when we sat with our simple meals around the stove, it was always with the contentment of a day well lived! Oh, how happy that home remained until the aforementioned circumstances" took over - cold, massive, powerful and sinister!
To my uncle and aunt, we were their children - my sister and I! They would await each summer for us to arrive - with our colourful stories from the plains where life was more level and easy! They still awaited us long after we stopped making that annual mountain trip for various reasons - college, work, and arguments with my father! They even built a bathroom in their little house partly in the hope that better facilities convince us to come more often! Yet, we never really went frequently again... Though when my sister had her days of existential angst and depression, she had to pack bags in a huff and go to share it all with my aunt - not to my mother, not to me! And I went later, some unsaid impulse tugging at me, to visit her just minutes before she died! Last month though, I didn't go to my uncle's funeral. There was no one to console - all who were loved had lived and died! All that there remains is a little house with a little bathroom jutting out - where an old couple once welcomed me and my sister as their own.
I don't know if my uncle and aunt will ever understand this. But in a family of mathematicians, homeopaths and the like, where I was given books with better regularity than meals, they had the most defining influence in shaping my personal beliefs and values - two people who, between them, had around ten years of schooling! I have often reminded myself that if my aunt & uncle could brave illness and old age and struggle through the Nilgiris slopes collecting Eucalyptus leaves or picking tea leaves for a living and still smile at the end of the day, none of my troubles are really worth knitting a brow. I also hope I'll be able to forgive and forget the way she forgave those who pushed her into an unknown land and then burnt the bridges. And I also lost my religious faith nursed by "Thevaram", "Thiruvasagam", "Shashti Kavasam", " Vinayakar Kavasam" and "Arthamulla Hindu Madham" (all Tamil religious works) to one question my aunt asked on her death-bed... One question which set me on a still continuing search which has led me to atheism, humanism and other quests... A question which my uncle's recent lonely death brought into relief yet again… With jaundiced eyes bright with unshed tears and a withered hand held out to me from a cancer-devastated frame, she had voiced the only complaint I have ever heard her make to man or god or devil - "Why is all this happening to me"
August 25, 2006 12:04 PM PDT
I agree Prasad... Guess somewhere sometime, city lives get too complex to be fully appreciated :|
August 25, 2006 11:14 AM PDT
For most of the city residents, 'living' is not an experience anymore but an activity guided by the economic engine. I don't mean to say love doens't exist or we are all hardened to appreciate the subtle beauties of life, just that we have less time to sit together and have a dinner with a full heart without a TV shouting in the background.
The picture you have painted of your uncle and aunt suggests that they have 'lived' their life in spite of their 'skewed' mannerisms perceived from a metropolitan perspective. That strikes me most and I guess it's their close proximity to the simplicity of living a life that influenced you.
As usual, your words are melliflous. Thanks.
August 24, 2006 01:19 PM PDT
August 23, 2006 10:52 PM PDT
dear, your posts are fantastic da machan. you make all of us proud.
August 17, 2006 01:43 PM PDT
Ah, now I get it :) And I totally agree :)
August 15, 2006 01:12 PM PDT
I just meant that so many people will appreciate your beautiful post and yet if it were to happen to us in reality,most of us would fail to appreciate it...that's the sad part ...but whats imp is atleast the people involved in this were true to each other.
hope this helps shed some light on my rambling which as usual lacks clarity :)
August 8, 2006 03:06 PM PDT
How've you been? Blogging anywhere now?
August 8, 2006 03:06 PM PDT
Thanks Lady :) And will drop by to check the post...
August 8, 2006 11:33 AM PDT
i have been following you throughout. lovely as usual. ur posts are so beautiful, that quite often i do not know what to write in this comment box :)
August 8, 2006 12:32 AM PDT
a truely touching post and i agree with you, we dont need money or materialistic life to be happy. we jsut need that love.
(u know who comments under 'name' uh? and u inspired me to write a post now)
August 4, 2006 10:35 PM PDT
Didn't quite understand what you are implying in the first para, buddy... Anyways, guess you are right in that if we truly touch a few lives in the course of our lives, it'd be worth it all!
August 4, 2006 10:33 PM PDT
Thanx Man... This is an old one from a couple of months ago...
August 4, 2006 10:06 PM PDT
People don't seem to appreciate reality as much its expression in the form of a spellbinding post ...
but consolation lies in the fact that atleast those involved loved n cherished each other....maybe that makes the lives touched, worth it all.
August 4, 2006 09:01 PM PDT
I am left speechless anna. What can I say? so very moving and true...