The sky, the trees, the neighborhood
They all appeared different and dull
I wondered why.
I came out to my backyard sitting on a chair
That I most often do during the summer mornings
I saw the old cherry tree standing
But could not understand why it is still there.
Some little birds flown in picking up things, chirping
I wondered why they do that.
I walked around our vegetable garden
Tomatoes, beans, eggplant, squash, zucchini – all there, growing
I wondered what is the use.
My body felt cold in the summer days
I did not know why
I felt exhausted for no reason
I felt something very dear missing
I felt empty.
There came the news from my nephew ‘takuma is no longer with us’
My children’s, nephews’ and nieces’ takuma
My octogenarian ma.
I melted down sobbing and weeping
I could not stop it
Memories started pouring in
Making my tears rolling down
I wondered why this has to happen.
I did not feel so much this way when my baba passed away
Perhaps thinking that my ma was still with us
Now the last link is gone forever
Echoing ma saying once, ‘parents do not live forever’.
I felt my ma’s warm hands, hugging
I felt her warm kisses, inimitable loving care
I felt her warm wishes no matter what happens.
My palms came together at my heart in Anjali
Asking her blessing for all of us, for our wellbeing.
I felt ma whispering to my ears, ‘Nanai, I had a long fulfilling life
Take good care of yourself and all.’
I felt ma is with us
Telling us to remain strong
To nurture and cherish the family bond
To counter hardships and celebrate accomplishments.
I thought of Kisa Gautami story:
Begging from door to door to revive her dead child
And how the Buddha made her realize the harsh truth.
Suddenly the rationale of Emptiness appeared with a new meaning to me
Of the existence of missing links in the tangled ball of interconnectedness
In the rolling Time of ever changing fluxes of things.
Now another link is missing – a very precious one
That gave birth to three branching trees
To let new links to sprout
To roll on to the future, to the unknown.
This piece is dedicated to the gracious remembrance of my mother by offering merit (punya dana) with loving respects. She passed away one month ago at age 88.
. . . . .
-by Dr. Dilip K. Barua, 25 September 2020