Friday, August 28, 2009

The Funeral Diaries - Part I

Om taccham yoravrini mahe
gaatum yajnaya
gaatum yajnapataye
daivi svastirastu naha
svastir maanushebhyaha
urdhvam jigatu bheshajam
sham no astu dvipade
sham chatushpade
Om shantih shantih shantihi

We worship and pray to the Supreme Lord for the welfare of all beings. May all miseries and shortcomings leave us forever so that we may always sing for the Lord during the holy fire ceremonies. May all medicinal herbs grow in potency so that all diseases may be cured. May the gods rain peace on us. May all the two-legged creatures be happy, and may all the four-legged creatures also be happy. May there be peace in the hearts of all beings in all realms.

She's watching them, and they her, although it is two different things now. Her sons: the eldest, the middle one and the youngest. The fourth is far away: separated by time, distance, words and circumstances.

She'd cradled all of them once: bathed them, massaging them, rubbing hard against the hair to give them the creamy, hair-less, soft skin that is their surname: the fair one. The middle son is bathing her today: he anoints her with sandalwood, tags her with abil, gulal, kanku. There's a slow, methodical love in his hands: how does he know this, she wonders? It does not come naturally to his gender, and yet, he knows how to prop her head up, how to drape the clothes on her, how to arrange the flowers. He's chanting too: and she knows her husband is watching too, flushed with pride. The pandit with four sons, named after the Gods themselves: three atheists and only one believer. The other two are watching too: working in a tandem that beats age-gaps, egos and beliefs.

Om sahasra shirsha purushaha
sahasrakshaha sahasrapat
sa bhumim vishvato vritva
atyatishthad dhashangulam

The Purusha (the Supreme Being) has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes and a thousand feet. He has enveloped this world from all sides and has (even) transcended it by ten angulas or inches.

What are they thinking, she wonders. Do they remember my anger? Piercing words. The rolling pin, the kitchen utensils that were an extension of my arm, and my anger. Once, a hot pincer that had found its way to the eldest one.
But he bothered me so, the eldest one. A naughtiness and boisterousness that defied his asthma-racked body, malnourished from the hand-to-mouth existence that marked my youth, my middleage.
Do they remember the love? The going hungry to feed them food? The walking barefoot to chosen deities, scorching sun and blistered feet? The fasts, the giving up of favoured things, the countless nights spent, stroking, sighing, sitting? The warm, ghee-soaked sheera that I fed them before I offered it to my Lord?

purusha evedagam sarvam
yadbhutam yaccha bhavyam
utamritatva syeshanaha
yadanne natirohati

All this is verily the Purusha. All that which existed in the past or will come into being in the future (is also the Purusha). Also, he is the Lord of immortality. That which grows profusely by food (is also the Purusha).

Me, the shipping magnate's daughter with rooms of my own, watching the waves roll in from my window to the endless. Me, the pandit's angsty wife, raising four sons and two daughters and one more in a one-room house, designated corners to cook, to pee, to bathe. Me, the woman who put her youth and her beauty in the aluminium trunk I carried my wedding clothes in, and locked it in for mothballs and silverfish to enjoy.

Me, the creator of my own destiny. Me, the forger of my own fortune. Me, the mother of four sons. One who I drove away with my words. One who lived with me, but who still seeks a semblance of happiness from a life in which I weed-ed out love. Wife to a man whose malaise was generosity, whose curse was his concern for other people, whose gifts were only for the hapless.

Me, Prasanna Gauri, named after the Devi who is both happy and gracious, benevolent and serene.


to be continued...


Swati said...

Oh my god.

Anonymous said...

*hugs* i do not know what to say.

Tharini said... leave me speechless, wordless, only feeling, the hairs on my hands standing on ends. You are reviewing her life in the uncanny way that her soul will now that she is in a higher place. And to think, we share a part of that process through you...

upsilamba said...

Just letting you know that I was here and read your post. I couldn't leave, just like that. But I also don't know what to comment.

dipali said...

Very powerful.

MiM said...

the coincidence is making me shiver, nino's mum.
"Om taccham yoravrini mahe..." was on -- being played on my laptop as i began to read your post

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

I am totally speechless ...

choxbox said...

got goosebumps. reading part 2 now.