The Past is beautiful

The past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time.

It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions

About the present, only about the past

                                                Virginia Woolf

Around my birthday, this year, I reflected on the life of a loved one who has passed away.


As I meditated and reflected on her life, the British India of 1930s and the many journeys we as a civilization have gone through in these past eight decades came alive. She kept the legacy of her father alive.

In significant events in my life, through pointed suggestions- without rambling details- she gave me guidance and support.


Family is the place where one learns to connect, communicate and grow (or numb) in many ways.

When my father passed away in a car accident (1999-June) she came home in Palam Vihar

I was struggling between giving a notice in the newspaper to coordinating with the scientific medical society , the sudden void my mother felt, and the pulls of my son-wife.

At times I would be exasperated and labile.

She must have observed this from a distance, but never told me anything day-to-day.

But when she was leaving- she came to me and said- you have to balance things and be diplomatic (and some other details).

Over the decades her words have come true in many ways and as I fell short many times, her guiding spirit, gentle smile would come across.

In the movie- A beautiful day in the neighborhood- there is a prayer- Pray for all those who made you.

When I sit in a quiet corner and pray, a smiling face, gentle spirit , with a historical sense comes alive.

Through many stories told over family gatherings, she kept alive the legacy of her father, and gave us a sense of what it is to be related, to be part of a family, and a fabric which is Post independence India.


This is an exercise, I have done every month for over past six years.

Sometimes I write a book summary and send it to my maternal grandfather- who was the first person to whom I wrote letters to- in 1970s.

He would correct them from Moscow and return them.

Today, many decades later, as I sat down to write a letter to a loved one who has passed away – I wrote to my grandmother- not as a grandmother, but as a friend.

How she must have seen life through the different currents which passed – the sons who have their own lives and families to the times of coping, when her father and husband passed away before their time, and how she evolved her life as an educator.


I remember her lessons on sisterhood.

The support she gave to her peers as they evolved through the loss of their loved ones.

Family can be a place of great support, but also trial.

And as I remember the Pratap Chowk of Delhi, where we used to stay when we were in High school, I reminisced with my sister, the Delhi of 1980s.

Recently , I was sent a letter written by my mother in 1984-which brought alive memories of a life time ago, and also a way of life.

She wrote how her cousin had come from Shyampur Rishikesh .

And the trips to Sarojini Nagar to meet my father’s sister.

The Shimla of 1930s/1940s came alive on those pages.

Memories of walks in Upper Kaithu Bazaar-Shimla where we used to visit from Pune-1970s, and go for walks in Hill Temples of Jakhu, Tara Devi and Kufri.

An educator, her influence on the life of our family was subtle and profound.

Reminded me of the words of John Dewey

“I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of

experience, that the process and the goal of education, are one and the same thing.”



A teacher affects eternity; we can never tell where his influence stops

                                                                                    Henry Adams


Jung agreed with Freud’s model of the unconscious , what Jung called “the personal

unconscious” but he also proposed the existence of a second , far deeper form of the

unconscious underlying the personal one. This was the collective unconscious, where

the archetype themselves resided, represented in mythology by a lake, or body of

water, and in some cases a jug or other container.

This concept of Jung can be applied to the words of the playwright Trevor Griffiths-

I did

not invent myself, the world invented me


In a previous article this writer told about his realization that what he had before him

was not the dish he had ordered for his forties

        The Crack Up – F Scott Fitzgerald


About prashant bhatt

A psychologist, interested in mindfulness practices. I practiced medicine as a radiologist for 23 years in India and Libya as a radiologist before shifting to Canada. A regular diarist, journaling since 1983 Reading journal :
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