Moments of Truth

That every day we face. And being honest about it!

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Location: Monroe Twp, New Jersey, United States

TeeBee for many, Manthru for some, Sunny for a few, Myna for selected, Suresh for record. Hailing from Thrissur of Kerala and now lives (read survives) in Monroe Twp, NJ with wife and daughter.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Goodbye to a Banyan Tree!

I was standing on the concrete steps that lead to the river, Bharatapuzha, in Thirunavai temple. It was the beginning of June in 2003. A few feets away, between the temple and the steps, stood a giant banyan tree with its huge shades protecting the whole place like a knight. A bunch of bats were hanging on its branches and from a distance it looked like a torn black umbrella. With whatever little water flowing in a multitude of branches, courtesy to a delayed rainy season, the river looked like a painting of the banyan tree on a sand canvas. Brown broken pieces of small clay pots were spread all over the sand like shattered dreams. Above my head the sun was shining; behind the leaves and countless bats that looked like souls on their way to eternity but unwilling to leave and holding on. The air was pleasantly cool filled with the fragrance of flowers and the aroma of burning incense sticks. A soothing devotional song played in the background occasionally interrupted by the chime of bells from the temple. Few feets below and away on the small islands of sand surrounded by water that goes only up to knees, there were two three lines of people with wet clothes offering the last rites to their beloved, repeating whatever was told by the priest in sanskrit. Few understood the meaning.

It was the tenth day after his soul had left the body. Each day rituals were carried out at home but crows, representatives or messengers from another world, stayed away. The mixture of sesame, flower, water, banana and rice was conveniently offered to fish in an unused well as alternative to the crows after each unsuccessful wait. The absence of crows to accept the offering left a bad taste but it was not unexpected for more than one reason. Till that day, celebrations were given a break and non-vegetarian food was prohibited. And from next day onwards, life would flow freely till death comes. The neighbourhood had already come back to normality. The border lines of happiness and sorrow was too narrow and undefined like the absence of crows.

The bottom of the river where it meets the steps was made deep enough for a dip. The wet towel that used to be around my waist for the last 10 days would be worn across the chest during the rituals. Immediate relatives of the deceased including siblings and their sons and daughters were lined in a half-seated posture. On a piece of banana leaf, each of us offered balls of a mix of rice, flower, sesame and water in between prayers. It was give-back time. The difference was that both of us were alive when he was feeding me. It was tasty too. I knew that mine was not. Understanding my helplessness, I offered my tears. Like all times, he would definitely know.

The small clay pot that contained the ashes would be buried in the sand, as opposed to my belief that it would be floated. The search was on to find a place on the sand; a place clean and unused. The remains, the portion of it that was brought, was buried near a spot that would be insignificant from the moment we turn our back. On this bed of sand, near this sacred temple, there is no difference among human beings, reduced to ashes, on any grounds. They all rest in peace and harmony while the living ones will go back to fight for the materialistic world. Next to that small island of sand, the upper edges of the shades of the banyan tree met a channel of water. In the relection, well below the surface of water, the leaves and bats were hugging and shaking hands as if telling good byes.


Blogger R.Nandakumar said...

"bats that looked like souls on their way to eternity but unwilling to leave and holding on..."

verily such is the lot of 'paavam maanavahridayam'!

8:07 PM  
Blogger ഡ്രിസില്‍ said...


2:14 AM  
Blogger Achinthya said...

But do we want the bats to bid goodbye ?
A much too familiar sight and feeling.
Infact Im happy that stumbled upon this blog.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Myna said...

Nandhan bhai:

There is a difference. For the dead, it is the love and for the live, it is the materialistic world. I think so.


We, our hearts, decide when to say goodbye. I have seen that time also plays a factor.

9:18 AM  

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