Saturday, March 8, 2008


Speaking to my mom in India yesterday, I heard that a family friend of ours, Avtar Singh Aunty had passed away. I wrote an entry, lost it somewhere in the internet ether..... Can't let go, let her go without a few words I can muster. It leaves me with a sadness, as it makes me aware that I'm at the age where people I once knew are gone for good. I'd visited her the last time in India. The next time I go, I will have to face her daughter and diabetic, blind husband.

Much has been said on this forum in the last few days about unity, religion. I have my doubts about these things. At times like now, the following passages from Bhagavad Gita give me the solace I need. Much of it is cultural, and it reminds me anew that religion - with its associated literature, ritual - provides a sort of framework for the natural lows of life.


Gita - Quartets from Chapter 2

That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.

Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, for the self slays not nor is slain.

For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. It has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. It is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. It is not slain when the body is slain.

O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, eternal, unborn and immutable kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?

[i]As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.[/i]

The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. It is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body.


Excerpt from Vikram Seth's [i]A Suitable Boy[/i] p 1331

Ash and bones, that was all Mrs Mahesh Kapoor was now, ash and bones, warm still, but soon to cool, and be collected, and sunk in the Ganga, at Brahmpur... Fat, ligament, muscle, blood, hair, affection, pity, despair, anxiety, illness: all were no more. She had dispersed. She was the garden at Prem Nivas (soon to be entered into the Annual Flower Show), she was Veena's love of music, Pran's asthma, Maan's generosity, the survival of some refugees four years ago, the neem leaves that would preserve quilts stored in the great zinc trunks of Prem Nivas, the moulting feather of some pond-heron, a small unrung brass bell, the memory of decency in an indecent time, the temperament of Bhaskar's great-grandchildren.


So too I remember aunty - cheerful dispenser of Avtar uncle's medicine, a woman without a name of her own, just the 'aunty' appended to her husband's. Chatterbox without malice. Provider of cold lassis on hot, summer days. The glue that held her family together. Go in peace and love.

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