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.