Commonwealth War Cemetery-Tobruk-Libya.Tombs of Indian soldiers who participated in the North Africa campaign in 1940s are found here.
Continuing on the theme of remembrance –reflection rituals my mind goes back to morning walks I used to have with my grandfather in the late seventies-early eighties. We used to write letters to each other when he was in Moscow. He would correct them, add a few notes about grammar and themes. When he moved to Pune we would go for walks together. I used to be in secondary school at that time and though I knew that he was a teacher and author, I did not realize the scope of his work. One of the things I remember is that he would get up early –around 4 in the morning and read, write. Later in the day, he would go to the University library. He was an academician who lived that way of life right till the end.
Legacy The writer John Maxwell in his book-5 levels of leadership writes about the theme of legacy- “When you are young you cannot wait to get somewhere in life. As you age, you realize that there is much more to life than to have material success. You want to make a difference. If you think about it early enough, you have the chance to leave a positive legacy. What you do everyday regularly over a period of time, becomes your legacy.” In the case of the academicians and professionals in my family, their habit of keeping notes, referencing the library and revising these has become a part of their legacy. I hope to pass it on to my own children. Hence I urge them to keep trying to read and write about the experiences which they have had.
Nostalgia Recently a cousin wrote to me as to why the Old days are always remembered as the good old days and why the past always seems to be more pleasant than the present. Nostalgia is one of the most beautiful and powerful of human emotions.In the periods of remembrance, while getting a sense of what the family is, one can also give shape to the way things have evolved for the group.
Catharsis Is history –family history in this case- a means to Catharsis. A means to get a larger deeper perspective. As a friend who recently lost a loved one remembered some baby steps he took with her, the need to remember came through. This is in the acute phase and expatriate workers who work in different parts of the world and have to go back to their home countries in such painful circumstances. Keeping a journal to record and then read through those common memories can be a good way to help process, reflect, learn lessons and ask questions about oneself and one’s family,group.
“We are part of a larger family,” he said as he got phone calls from many parts of the world. Diaspora develop links across continents, have a special level of bondage as they face similar issues.
Continuity How we set the themes, reflect on them over time can be a way forward to gain a sense of continuity. All Hindus at some time or other go to the banks of Ganga at Haridwar, where they meet the three generations at one point-Their forefathers came here, they pray here just as their children will pray for them here –some time in the future. This point of continuity can be a starting point for many joint narratives.
Spiritual growth What does the Gita say on these? Could you write about what ‘authentic’ spiritual texts tell about these themes, one friend wrote to me after reading the previous blog .
If being spiritual is getting away from the material senses and trying to map the journey of the soul, then for me, a journal is a good starting point for these. Reflecting on passages, observing one’s feelings when trying to apply them in our particular circumstances and seeking dependence on larger universal forces and energies can be a part of starting. Remembrance-rituals done on a calendar basis can serve as good reminders to these in our busy worlds when various other pressures and distractions keep us from focusing on our core issues.
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As we remember our forefathers I remember our walks together. The theme of having a walk together, talking about some common issues in a park or hill-side or lake-view and then returning to a quiet place and writing about the experience is a ritual which has shaped many things for me. Our journeys together are symbolized by those walks.
At some we walked together, and then it was time to say Farewell…..
They live on..in our joint journals of journeys together….