On Gaps – Letter from Jasola

Anything that you have, you can lose; anything you are attached to, you can be separated from; anything you love can be taken away from you.

Yet, if you have nothing to lose,

you have nothing

Richard Kalish, a deceased colleague of Kenneth Doka, quoted in his book – Grief is a journey.

Dr Doka is a preeminent expert on grief

***

Around ten years ago, my mother passed away in Delhi, India.

I asked my niece Divya, to write a few lines on how she remembered her grandmother, what lessons she learned from her, and what she has been doing for the past ten years.

The letter she wrote was one of the most touching legacies of my parents.

They say- Grandchildren are the future which you don’t see physically.

DELHI MEMORIES

A LETTER FROM JASOLA

Jasola- Delhi 2003- March

We used to sleep together in a room.

You would take my hands in your hand. After a while I would take my hand away . The last time we were together, before you were admitted to the hospital, I did not take my hand away . That was the last time. After you passed away I could not sleep in that room for a month.

I asked how the gap will fill .

To this an elder replied

The gaps don’t fill, they fade away


He taught me how to make notes
With dear Mausaji – Dr Ram Prasad Nawani
Palam- 2001
” Gaps don’t fill, they fade away “

PALAM – EACH CORNER MANY MEMORIES

I don’t go for walks towards C block any more

My father’s sister told in a sad tone. She would go for prayers to Sai Mandir with my mother, every Thursday.

Later they would sit in the B Block park.

In his book- Grief is a journey- Dr Ken Doka writes

“ In losing your sibling, you experience many secondary losses beyond the loss of perhaps your longest lasting relationship.

Now there is no one to share those special memories or to check your perceptions. There is a change to the feel of holidays or family events. “

Sisters- Palam- 2001

In August 2015, I took my mother’s sister Abha Mausi ji, to Palam after a long time. That experience made me realize the words of Dr Doka in a very personal immediate way.

Of all the persons who miss my mother, it is probably her sisters who misses her the most.

She requested the tenants if she could come inside the house. She walked quietly through the rooms .

A silence came over us.

Then she said –

Each corner has so many memories.

In Nov 2016 the two sisters went to Palam again- and we spent a few hours seeing old family albums.

RITUALS – DOSAS LETTERS MUSEUMS

Your dosas are missing

from the family meals.

Divya- 10 years- Remembering Nani ji

Creating personal rituals add to the layers of remembrance and honouring the memories of loved ones.

Letter writing is a habit which I got from my grandfather in 1970 s.

Writing a letter to a loved one who has passed away, is a remembrance ritual I have practiced regularly for over six years. Every month I write a letter to a loved one.

Sometimes I write book summaries to my grandfather. At times I have written how Diwali is celebrated in Canada to my grandmother who was a devotee.

This exercise helps one see the big picture, wear the Cosmic Hat and watch generations and geographies in a unique way.

Sometimes I take a perplexing to them.

Divya ‘ s letter brought forward these elements in intimate personal ways.

She told of her transition from school to college, the challenges of shifting from staying at home in Delhi to staying in hostel in Mysore in Southern India.

MUMBAI-2008

GOOD BYES – NO GOING BACK

The last long discussion I had with my mother was on phone – ( 2011- June) I was in Tripoli Libya , having decided to stay back in the Civil War and NATO bombings.

When I had started working in Tripoli- 2003- Sep, I knew that one day I may have to see my mother if she is in need.

But no one could have foreseen that I would be stuck in a No Fly War Zone.

I sometimes discussed this with a friend, a colleague, another long term expatriate worker – who too stayed in Libya for long. Of all my friends, family I felt he was probably the one person who would understand the complexity and dilemma.

LEPTIS MAGNA – Libya – 2016- The birth place of Roman emperor Septimus Severus. Mediterranean walks . Staying in Libya in war of 2011 left me in a No Fly Zone.

The summary of many long hours of discussions is in this sentence

“ Now you are so far ahead in this journey that there is no going back “

Every transition involves a loss.

Every relocation or migration involves Goodbyes.

ROBERT’S UNCLE – A PRAYER IN COTTONERA – MALTA

“ Mummy is it so dangerous in Libya that people are praying for them “

Sahil- my younger son asked his

mother after he returned from school

where they were praying for Robert’s uncle who was in Libya.

Graydon Rock – Mississauga 2021- June

Not all the costs of war are seen or can be counted or measured.

As his mother tried to downplay, he admitted that he did not tell anyone in his school that his father too was in the war in Libya.

And while he did pray for Robert’s uncle, he also silently prayed for his father.

WALKS – HIMALAYAS TO BRUCE TRAIL ONTARIO

Riverwood Mississauga- Ontario 2017- October

I had told Divya to write about the ten years gone by to her grandmother.

Her mind’s eye went back to the times when Nani would be sitting in the living room, their trips to Mumbai, Vaishno Devi, Shimla.

Walks are part of the family tradition.

My parents inculcated the love of the written word in me, and the love of museums and art galleries.

If we had taken a walk together in Ontario, she would have loved the Art Galleries of Ontario

We remember and learn and grow on

Ten years down the line.

Remembering trips to Mandirs, puddings and some conversations

Writing a letter to a loved one who has passed away, is a remembrance ritual which was taken to a new level by Divya – the granddaughter as she wrote about so many intimate aspects in touching details.

Gaps don’t fill, but do they fade away?

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By the Humber

Around Father’s Day 2021

The gigantic tension before the shooting of an arrow, and the total relaxation seconds later, is my way of connecting to the universe.

Paulo Coelho

Exploring traditions by the Humber

On reading the above words of Coelho , I recalled the meditation taught to me by my father- in which he told about meditation being like the holding of a bow – and would regularly meditate daily for twenty minutes morning and evening .

While talking to friends from different spiritual traditions, I came to know different ways of approaching the universal spirit and energy.

MY FATHER PNB

Lake Ontario- Readings at Port Credit- Brueckner Rhododendron garden – June 2021

A child who lost his mother before he was five , he grew up in Shimla , the summer capital of British India .

We as a family would go for trips to Shimla , when we were staying in Pune in the 1970 s . He introduced me to the rhythm of the Himalayas, and the magic of the morning hour when night turns into day .

He would get up before that hour and exercise, study, and pray.

THE HOME LIBRARY

Lake Huron – Tobermory- The northern most point of the Bruce Trail

We started our home library with an encyclopedia in the early 1970 s .

The gift of the love of the written word was passed on to me by my parents.

Through many readings, book discussions and meditations our family has evolved into living in Ontario now.

As the mind’s eye goes back to the origins of our family in the Garhwal Himalayas the spirit and aspirations of some seekers came to mind.

Walks in and around Shimla , prayers at Hill Temples like Jakhu , Tara Devi and around Laxman Jhula area of Rishikesh,

and trips further up to Badrinath Kedarnath added to our understanding of the spiritual traditions.

2016- Karanprayag – Garhwal Himalayas- with Mamaji (Sudhir Bahuguna) – a fellow walker

This blend of nature and meditation made us realize the truth in some words of seekers who have gone through this path before.

The words of Alexandra David-Ne’el as quoted in Robert Twigger’s book ‘ White mountain ‘ summarize some of these walks and meditations

“ Instead of focussing on wealth creation and making labour saving inventions , the people of the Himalayas have concentrated on psychic development.

In special monasteries- mastery over breathing and mind is developed using symbols, mantras, and long periods of concentration. And long periods of walking. “

BY THE HUMBER TRAILS

Last week met a friend, a seeker who has walked the Humber trails for over half a century, and witnessed the evolution of the city.

He has sought psychic development over many walks .

In some ways , the energy of the universe, and our connections to each other and the universal spirit came alive as we talked about Generations and their impacts through decades.

“ If I cannot get far I just go around ten fifteen kilometres from the city to be with my inner self and connect with the universal spirit “ my friend told me as we walked quietly along the Humber.

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Readers and Walkers – Remembering my uncle – a great mentor

Port Credit Mississauga-
One of our Thinking places
Reading in the open is different from reading in a closed space- some lessons I learned from my uncle

If a farmer who lived in 1000 AD woke up in 1500 AD he would still identify with many elements of life in medieval Europe or Asia . But if a farmer or factory worker of Delhi Agra or Toronto or Paris of 1500 woke up to the ring tone of a smartphone in 21 st century, he may be very surprised and wonder whether he has woken up in Heaven ( or Hell) .

( paraphrased for discussion from Yuval Harari’s book – Sapiens for an afternoon discussion over samosas in Erindale park Mississauga- May 29-2021)

Burloak Waterfront – Burlington Ontario
Morning meditations

A FEW MOMENTS MORE

As we sat on the banks of Credit river and the historic Erindale region of Mississauga, the mind’s eye went back to my uncle, who through his example over the decades, taught me about nurturing a library, building a reading journal and weaving it with walks near rivers ( Ganga Rishikesh- India we started these walks in 1970 s )

WALKERS AND READERS


Ramjhula – Rishikesh – Uttarakhand
2006
Evening prayers meditations

My father and maternal grandfather gave me the gift of the morning hour when night turns into day.

IN RISHIKESH AREA – INDIA -1970s 80s

My uncles helped refine these walks through trips to Landour Mussoorie ( Uttarakhand India ) and Ramjhula – Laxman Jhula areas of Rishikesh.

Reading the same book in the open ( a park, mountain, riverside, lake) is a different experience than reading it sitting in a closed space ( room, library, bus, train)

So as my uncle passed to the other side Eternity- till we meet and read together again, I went through some pages of Rain in the Mountains by Ruskin Bond

– books which we read and loved together .

BIOGRAPHIES

People we love become part of our biographies

Certainly we retain memories of that individual- memories that continue to inform , advise and guide us. Memories also nurture and warm our very being.

People we love become part of our biographies.

We cannot really separate ourselves from them. They have left an indelible mark on who we are, how we see ourselves. Being my sister and brother’s kid brother, as well as my mother and father’s son, help define the person I have become

( Paraphrased from Dr K Doka’s book – Grief is a journey)

Our readings and walks continue

READINGS – At Forks of Credit Ontario

From The Road Less Traveled – M Scott Peck

The lessons continue

Whenever I will read in the open, I will remember and feel your presence

Ontario Walks 2021- Jan
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