This ancient city of learning and burning sits on the banks of the river Ganga which is home to Saagar’s ashes. We were here twice, within a few months of Saagar’s passing for various ceremonies related with the sudden and tragic nature of his death. A year ago, my Irish medium who I have come to rely on, informed me that the elaborate prayer services that were held for him here had been greatly helpful in freeing his soul. I have no reason to not believe her as everything else she tells me makes sense.
Last month I was back in this iconic city for a long weekend, celebrating the writings of my favourite 15th century poet and philosopher, Saint Kabir.
“Scholars are never made
from reading countless books.
You only need to understand ‘love’
to be a true scholar.”
Twenty three years ago I left India as a motivated young professional thirsty for knowledge, professional growth and ‘success’. I was a naive kid. I did not know who I was. Now it feels like I’ve taken a tortuous and torturous route to finally come back home, to myself.
Yes, I passed many exams. In the year 2000, I traveled to Dublin for the day, for my first post-graduate exam at the Royal College. As soon as I returned home, Saagar, who was six at that time asked me, “Mamma, did you win?” A huge smile descended on my face and my entire being. I forgot about the stress of that day and the preceding months and got lost in our cuddles and giggles.
I did grow in my work and was ‘successful’ but the most important lesson I am learning is to understand, experience and be love.
Once again I found myself sitting in the waiting room at a Healing Centre in Wales. I sat facing a wall covered with effusive and colourful thank-you messages plus baby pictures. They were addressed to the acupuncturist who had helped these women become mums. I was here to connect with my son through the beautiful, Moya, whom I have seen twice before. She is compassion personified. Each time I have met her, I have found great comfort in her readings and felt close to Saagar. So, despite Storm Dennis, train disruptions, a brewing respiratory infection and a serious jet-lag, I made my way up in water-proofs and a big red polo-neck jumper.
The first thing she mentioned was Varanasi. A seat of learning. A place of pilgrimage, where the temporality of this human body is clear to see. Of course, Varanasi, where Saagar’s ashes are immersed in the Ganges, where we had a prayer ceremony with 5 priests simultaneously chanting and carrying out various rituals for 5 hours to help Saagar’s soul transcend peacefully into another realm. Where my ashes will go.
Then came a string of other places and memories: Playing catching-catch on a beach in Port Rush, stepping over multitudes of hexagonal stones at Giant’s Causeway, crossing the flimsy Carrick-a-rede bridge, the 3-day trip on a narrow boat one beautiful summer, shopping in New York, visiting his Uncle, Aunt and new-born cousin in Chicago, admiring the moon and stars through the big Velux windows in his large loft conversion space. All these sweet things came up.
He wanted to present me a Cherry blossom. Did that make any sense to me? Yes. Coming up to March, we would be using Sakura in our Ikebana arrangements, bringing nature into our homes. A very special time of year for this Japanese art.
Moya said he is peaceful where he is. He understands that sometimes I breath deep and hard to stay alive and sometimes it feels like I am breathing glass and sometimes I wish I could just stop. He understands. And he holds all these happy memories and places that he cherishes.
He’s reminding me of the good times. I need to look at them and cherish them much more than I do. They were ours. They will always be ours.