Thursday, June 27, 2013

Death and Eulogy

Last evening a few hours after i posted about the Jatra and mentioned my Dad's gracious cousins who hosted us, one of them died.  I will simply call him Kaka for this post. Kaka means Dad's brother.  Here even a cousin is a brother or sister. Suddenly Death was real and alive and in our home and hearts.

The news came suddenly like it happens often times. We were sitting and drinking coffee around my parents dining table in their Bangalore apartment. Raghu and i were playing Pictionary. Raghu had started a new personal game as we played Pictionary. He would role a dice and assign actions to each number. So he would say (to himself) if I roll 4 I will eat a spoon of corn, if I roll 6 i will draw, if I roll 5 I will stop playing, etc. It was slowing down our game but was funny to watch.  He kept taking decisions all thru the evening based on a roll of dice.  And in the middle of this slow evening came a call.  

The voice on the other end sounded distraught and mixed up.  Slowly over a couple of calls within a few minutes we all knew that Kaka had died. It had taken his older brother and hospital authorities an hour to start the inevitable process of declaring the death.

As the evening wore on and my dad got ready to leave for Huballi, i found Raghu crying alone in his room. I sat and massaged his legs. We talked about how everything is energy. How we get attached to so many things in our lifetime.  We spoke of life, living and the need to move on.  Some call upon death, some can keep death at bay. I told him of my Dad's grandmother waiting for 3 days on her deathbed for him to arrive. Within a few minutes of his arrival she died. Raghu felt Kaka's death acutely for a while.  He had just met Kaka and had chatted with him.  The sudden death left Raghu bewildered, sad and wondering about how life can change in a split second.

Raghu also shared with me that Kaka had asked him to create a presentation on the Agnihotri family. He wanted my help to create this. My dad and i were quite moved by his earnestness. And i wondered about that dice game, the roll of dice, chance and the apparent randomness of life. 

Rest in peace dear Kaka.  Ravi and I will remember your joyful presence and immersion in Hindu rituals, your sincere smiling presence and total immersion while conducting a pooja, and the conversations we enjoyed at Dharwad during the Trust meetings. Raghu and i will create a beautiful something, that reflects the Agnihotri history. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Jatra

My father took us to Kundgol this last Sunday. It is a small, sleepy hamlet near Dharwad. There We have an ancestral home cared for by my Dad's cousin.  It is an Agnihotri home. A home that has seen several generations of Agnihotris.  The previous night I shared with the kids about how the house is, about the bathroom, about the food, the Jatra itself, the crowds etc. This Jatra is a yearly event with decorated bulls, Brahma pooja and some famillies are honored with a role to play on the Bullock carts. 

The drive into Kundgol was lovely.  We were surrounded by green fields and some parts of Huballi's factory ridden terrain.  Raghu and Zoya met their twin cousins for the first time. My dad's cousins gave us quite a welcome.  We had a traditional lunch on plantain leaves.  Raghu had plain ghee and rice and ignored the rest of the food.  But he is managing to politely navigate social norms. He talks to me in my ear and tells me what he can eat.  Both children managed to find their groove.  They used their iPads for a bit.  They walked up our little path to the local pond.

Sometimes i wonder if we would thrive in a small town in India.  I love small towns in India.  The big urban regions make me feel quite out of sorts. The cement, the lack of gardens and trees and lack of quiet... I can go on.  So i shan't.  Suffice to say small town India is beautiful and easy on the eyes.  I love the ambling buffalo and sleepy quiet. 

At the end of the day someone asked Raghu how he felt about the day.  He said the best part was being surrounded by a home and environment that was a part of his ancestry and that everyone in the house was connected to his blood line. It was a lovely summation for me too. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The way it goes

I would like to share this random day with my readers:

This morning i woke up with very low energy levels. I sat with my coffee mug and chatted with Ravi, who had been working on his laptop till i woke up. He is in the middle of re-entering the work world that he happily left 7 months ago. We are also in the last phase of the interior work on our new apartment. The current apartment, rented, has to be handed back by March 30th. The work on our site has us embroiled, mentally, physically and energetically. So there was much for us to talk about.

Raghu woke up and joined us on the couch. He said he loved the sun's warm rays falling on his bare back. He sat their sunning and started talking with us. The next hour went by discussing (with Ravi googling things for us) a light year, speed of light, how far Andromeda, the galaxy, is, what is a measurement unit, why measure anything, great Khali, the punjabi Canadian wrestler, tricks, trickster and how to trick people. Oh and also Raghu chatted about the Sherlock Holmes movie he saw by himself the previous night. ( I had fallen asleep and Ravi was asleep on the couch half way thru the movie.)

Raghu has been wanting to trick us.. General kinds... Pretending to be asleep, sneaking up on us and scaring us, stuff like that. But he has not always been successful. I gave him a wrapped candy this morning. He opened it and saw my carefully wrapped green plasticine roll. He was surprised at how realistic the candy looked like from the outside. So i wished him happy tricking, practical jokes etc. and mentioned that we'd love to be tricked. He does not want us to pretend to be tricked. He really wants to trick us. I mentioned the book on practical jokes i have. Raghu moved onto other things. I went back to my coffee and thoughts.

Ravi got some toast ready for breakfast. I got Zoya's milk ready. She had woken up talking about a playdate. I went upstairs to hang clothes to dry. My helper was sweeping the floors and helping with the dishes. We had not swept the floors for a day and they were filthy already.

I spoke to the kids about not arranging any playdates for the next couple of days as i was busy with the new house site issues, Ravi was managing several things, we were exhausted by the little house help, cooking, dusting, washing up etc. i explained that since we had several outings till yesterday i needed a break from social things. They both understood and decided to watch a TinTin episode while eating breakfast. I was moving around the house with a phone to my ear, arranging for dog care during the upcoming homeschoolers conference, and catching up on grocery lists and texting a friend.

I started cooking lunch once Ravi left for his errands and the site. Raghu and Zoya were playing a loud, running around game. There were times i wanted to step in and sort out their loud quarrels. I stopped myself and smiled at them and noticed that they were simply being loud but were not really angry. They kept resolving their issues and played together... A made up game.

I had steamed beetroot in the pressure cooker. I asked the kids if they wanted to colour some fabric. They put down soft white cloth pieces and for the next 30 minutes or so played with it. We stamped, printed, stained, and had some fun. Raghu then chopped up the cooked beetroot for our salad. I mixed it all up and Raghu tasted it and approved it but said it needed more salt.

While i continued to make chapatis and cooked a cabbage sabji, Zoya created coloured sand sticky paper thingies. Beautiful little things.... I have no idea what to do with them yet. But for now all that mattered was that she could mix coloured sand and enjoy the sticky paper.

Raghu then sorted out his card collection, played with a lighter, watched the flame, went out for a walk, used a blade to create wooden pencil shapes from sticks and now he is playing a video game that involves wrestlers.

Zoya is walking around with her doll, humming a song, carrying a laundry basket and creating little home spaces for her baby. She is currently feeding her doll and has asked me to get her wooden clothes pegs the next time we go shopping. I just fixed up her little pink stroller.

Ravi just got back and is upstairs printing out stuff. I will go set the table and maybe all 4 of us will eat lunch together.

Its 2:30 in the afternoon and i do not know how the rest of the day will go. I might read my Natalie Goldberg book after lunch and watch a movie with the kids. Maybe i'll feel open to playdates and a library visit (for Raghu's next Bone book) as the day moves on. I shared with the kids first thing this morning about how low i was energy wise and how i could not plan an active day. But they know (just from them knowing my style of functioning) that my energy may go up and we can revisit all of it).

Some days are full of excitement and busy with planned and unplanned activity. Other days like today... Quiet, loud, happy, annoyed, smiling, singsongy, simple, at home, mixed up, ordinary, etc. I stay with the unfolding of the day.