An accidental sunrise


The most important part of my morning ritual is sitting quietly in front of the photos of my parents with my cup of coffee and staring at their smiling faces. The world around me is quiet, fast asleep. The only sound that I hear is of the heating unit pumping blessed heat in our house on cold, winter mornings. I do this every day, without fail.

Today, as I got up to put my coffee cup away after my morning ritual with my parents, I happened to glance out of the window. I caught the sun rise, accidentally. Everyday, I wake up early and look inward instead of outside. And while I introspect and look back at memories or wipe away tears or question ‘why’ again and again, the sun rises with resplendent glory. I guess, this is nature’s way of balancing sadness with beauty. I will, perhaps, incorporate looking outwards in my morning ritual. After all, life is about balance.

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Solitude


I shared this pond with no one this morning. The resident ducks and Canada geese were nowhere to be seen. The sun was not strong enough for the little turtles to climb up on logs and sun themselves. I stood by the edge of the pond to look for them. They were perhaps snoozing in their nests.

It felt strange and beautiful all at once to find myself alone in this tiny bit of universe. The cerulean sky was sparkling with golden rays of the sun. That color, I have realized, makes me immensely happy. The trees and bushes stood quietly, their reflection in the water somehow doubling their silent presence.

No matter how much I sparkle outside, I struggle most days to get off the couch and put my game face on. However, on days when I feel the gentle sun caressing my face and the splendid blue of the sky penetrating my soul, I feel I will be okay. I get up to face another day. I love, I am loved. I will live today and remain hopeful for tomorrow.

A perfect day off..


My driver’s license almost feels like a waste these days. Since Ryan started driving, I have relegated the wheels to my two kids so they can go to their jobs, practices and occasionally social engagements. Unless the husband has meetings in far away places, he also works from home. Most days when I am off from work, I am pretty much home bound due to lack of a vehicle. I can always go for walks which I generally do but I did not go anywhere today.

Today I woke up determined to vacuum the house, weed the flower patch, cook dal and sabji, launder the towels and mop the kitchen floor. As I sipped my coffee this morning, I questioned why I put all that on my to-do list on my one day off. That list, on this beautiful morning, seemed ridiculous so I scrapped it. One should be flexible, right?

Instead, I cooked dal and sabji, warned Ryan to hand me back my tablet once I finished cooking. He was finishing a math packet and watching Seinfeld simultaneously – I worry about accuracy of those math problems. He handed my device back without a fight so I could read Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars (in e-book format). I finished the book, wrote a review on Goodreads and pondered upon the story of Nurse Powers trying to help pregnant women afflicted with Spanish flu in the maternity ward of a hospital in Dublin, Ireland in 1918. The book is relentless, honest and a stark narrative on the condition of women and the expectations that society placed on them.

Anyway, after finishing that heart rending book I needed something light and entertaining. I am also queuing up books for the book club that I hope to start – Light but not Fluffy. And Julie Murphy’s If the Shoe Fits seems to be a worthy candidate…..so far.

Between those two books I thought a lot about Sage, once I found out today was National Dog Day. I also thought about our back to back losses. Sage died in 2020 and ma, baba died in 2021. As a Hindu, albeit a non practicing one, my thought goes directly to bad karma. What did I do in this life or my past life so bad to deserve such sorrow? Death is natural and a part of life I know, but this absolute truth is still hard to swallow.

I mindfully set those thoughts aside as I tried to lose myself in Julie Murphy’s story of modern day Cinderella, If the Shoe Fits. The heat is not oppressive today. There is a light breeze. The sky is bright blue and the clouds are snowy white and fluffy. The sun is sweet and golden rays are reflecting the rich, shiny green of the trees and bushes in our backyard. The majestic oak tree at the fringe of our property is lopsided now. Part of its limbs fell on the ground after some severe storms in the past but it still stretches its remaining limbs up to the sky. It is undaunted despite its loss. I think there is a lesson to be learnt there.

I see it. I am still new at it.

No matter, this moment is good. I will take this moment and consider it a blessing.

Possibilities


Perhaps cliché and oft repeated but this act of blooming and the hope it provides to tired souls never gets old.

This peony plant was given to me by a friend last year after my parents died. She said the flowers will bloom each year to bring me comfort. Last year it had only one bloom and then it folded itself up to go to sleep for the winter. After a long season of rest and nourishment, peony spread itself in all of its glory.

Spring


There is something about spring. Yes, even when it is overcast. I find myself smiling at carefully nurtured spring flowers as well as the unwanted (yet often very beautiful) weeds. The light green buds on trees, the glorious magnolia trees showering me with petals on my daily walks, the few cherry blossoms that waited for my return, the yet-to-bloom but full-of-promise rhododendron bush in my yard, the busy ants, who will soon become a pain as summer approaches, the smell of sweet basil in my back deck from the saplings I just bought yesterday, the frolicking bunnies in the yard, the young sunlight forcing its way through grumpy clouds and washing the floor of my living room – all of these make me thankful and fill me with good cheer and, most importantly, hope.

And this is perhaps the only time I tend to be slightly poetic, despite schedules, travels, commitments et all.

I weeded my flower bed diligently, yet I see a few weeds sprouting already. But my peony is coming back and rhododendrons will bloom soon. I see a couple of gladiolus stalks sprouting up. I uprooted all the flower plants after last year’s bloom except obstinate ma plant. It is the red geranium which I planted last year, the day after she died. It looks dead still and shows no sign of life. But it is spring, it is the time of resurrection and also hope. So I live in hope that it will come back to me and bloom in all its glory.

His flowers


These were baba’s joy. Every winter he sent me photos of all his flowers with much pride. I had forgotten all about his flowers. Gouri sent these to me today. The man has ceased to exist but his love continues to spread through these blooms. There is an analogy to life and continuity somewhere but I am just content to look at them and think about the happiness they gave him each year.

A song


I could not fall asleep last night. My anxiety caused me to hyperventilate as I tried taking deep breaths. This morning I sat on my couch and saw the sunlight hit just the right way on our beloved indoor plant. The green of the leaves sparked joy.

I laced up my sneakers, plugged in the earbuds, turned on my Playlist to Rabindrasangeet and went out to walk in the woods. The cerulean sky, the cold on my face, the green grass despite the patches of frozen water on it, and the bare branches standing tall with the promise of life within it gave me peace. There were many birds out today, all puffed up against the cold, hopping on the fields, looking for grub. They took flight when I walked near them but did not go too far. I think I saw the bushy tail of the neighborhood fox in Sage’s path but I may be wrong. It was just a glimpse. I emptied my mind of all the anxiety to soak in the treasure in front of me. And it worked. My breathing calmed, my mind found temporary peace. I store these scenes in my mind to draw upon them when I have anxiety attacks as bed time approaches.

As I made my way home, baba’s favorite song came on my Playlist – Jokhon porbe na mor pa er chinho ei baate….

তখন কে বলে গো সেই প্রভাতে নেই আমি
সকল খেলায়…
সকল খেলায় করবে খেলা এই আমি, আহা
কে বলে গো সেই প্রভাতে নেই আমি
নতুন নামে ডাকবে মোরে বাঁধবে
বাঁধবে নতুন বাহু-ডোরে
আসব যাব চিরদিনের সেই আমি

A rough translation of this stanza is this:

Who says I am not present on that dawn. My being will be present in the universe. You will call me in different names but being is forever.

I have asked a lot of why’s and where’s since the dreadful month of May in 2020. It has been 8 months looking for peace, for meaning. I realized I find most peace (at least temporarily) if I believe the energy of my parents are now mingled with each and every aspect of beauty in nature that unfolds in front of me if I care to ‘see’. Baba sang this song a lot. I heard but did not listen. I listened today.

After 8 months


Sunrise

January 19th marked 8 months since my father died. January 10th was 8 months since my mother died. This journey of coming to terms with what life means now, without the presence of those who gave me life, has been an uphill battle.

Life, at least now, holds no joy.

I pretend. A lot. I pretend to act normal.

I am very mindful to keep my grief guarded so the person I am interacting with does not feel uncomfortable.

I dread going to bed.

I stay up as long as I can so when my head hits the pillow my mind does not race. I am truly terrified of nights and the solitude it brings when all hurtful feelings takeover.

I search a lot for answers and only find peace when I see beauty in nature.

It gives me solace to think that my parents’ energy is, perhaps, part of this beauty now. Or maybe their soul has been reborn in another body. Who knows?

On January 19th, as I sat quietly in the morning thinking about ma, baba and all the ‘why’s’, I saw this sunrise. And I thought “How fitting! Baba would have loved to see this. Maybe he is part of this beauty now. Maybe they both are part of this splendor.”

About half an hour…


It was cold outside but the morning was golden with bright sunshine. The sun streamed into our living room illuminating the photos of ma and baba. As I sat in front of them like every morning, sipping my coffee, I visualized in my mind’s eye the moment when those photos were taken. We have those moments.

I put on my coat, put in my ear plugs and went out for a brisk walk on a crispy cold day. The melodious voice of Kabir Suman singing Rabindra Sangeet poured on to my soul. As I crunched on the dry grass, felt the soft sun on my face and soothed my soul with music, I thought of ma and baba. A strange thought gave me peace today. I don’t know if they are looking down upon me, but I want them to be free of me and my life. I want them to start anew. Go on to your next life, find new happiness, forge new relationships, fall in love again, create your own tapestry of life with love and friendship and yes, loss too since that is inevitable. I will live out my life with the memories and in my mind I will always feel your love for me, my children and my husband. I don’t want you to look down upon me. Be new you.

I am writing this after my walk before the glow of contentment passes and the familiar feelings of anger, longing and heart break return. But while it lasts, I will cherish this new feeling of being able to let go.

Obstinate Ma plant keeps on giving…


I planted this geranium on May 11th, 2021. It was the day after ma died. Sahana had given me this plant on Mother’s Day, which was the same day as my mother exited this world. So instead of pacing the house, trying to collect my grief, bewilderment, confusion, helplessness, I put all my feelings in digging a hole in the ground and planting a life. Perhaps to compensate for the life that just left me. Since that day I have spent many hours by this plant’s side. I called this my Ma plant or refer to her as Didiya plant to my children jokingly, but if I am completely honest, a part of me believes this plant carries my mother’s energy.

Sahana was somewhat concerned about my attachment to Ma plant and warned me that it too will die. I know that. However, I will always remember this particular plant as my refuge during one of the saddest periods in my life.

It is mid October now. Slowly I am saying goodbye to my summer blooms. One by one they are falling asleep as cold weather sweeps in our area. Not Ma plant though. It had stopped giving flowers for a while during the peak of summer so I asked it why it was being obstinate. Since then we refer to it as Obstinate Ma Plant. Obstinate Ma Plant did not grow in height much but it made up for its stunted growth in beautiful blooms. Even now it is budding new flowers and opening new blooms in its full glory. It seems like it wants to live its life to the fullest before it goes. It seems like it wants to radiate all of its beauty before death claims it. I like to think it mirrors my mother’s life. She was a vibrant woman who lived her life in her own terms. She nurtured me my whole life but when the day to day taking care of me was done, she turned to see how she can nurture others. So she opened an NGO to serve the underprivileged in her area.

Although some health issues had curbed her will to live in the last few years of her life, she lit up when she talked about the NGO. (And talking about her grandchildren lit up the inner light as well). She was waiting for the pandemic to pass so she could start the work again. It was not meant to be.

Anyway, what I want to say is ma’s alter ego, the Obstinate Ma Plant keeps giving just like ma did till she could give no more.

Lastly, I have been trying to write blogs that is not full of my grief but I can not at this time of festivities.