Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Leave it open

Papa's antim sanskar (last rites) were performed on Tuesday, January 30, the 59th anniversary of the assasination of Mahatma Gandhi, and, this year, Muharram, the Sh'ia day of mourning. Yesterday, along with some relatives, I took the asthi (literally "bones," the bone fragments and ashes that remain after cremation) in a simple red earthen pot to the sangam (confluence) of the Osrang and the great river of Gujarat, the Narmada. As the bright marigolds and the asthi floated away in the current, I chanted In Pardisum.

The besnu is this evening (kind of like a memorial service). Until the termu (thirteenth day), there will be the recitation of all the eighteen adhyaya (lessons) of the Bhagvad Gita at home, one hour a day. I have been praying the Office for the Dead daily.

The phone has rung off the hook, condolences, from the pharmacist around the corner, to the Prime Minister. Friends and colleagues. Very well meaning yet so wearisome.

My mailbox has been innundated by messages of condolence and sympathy. Needless to say, I simply am unable to respond to these yet.

St. Izzy left the following in the comments below:
"He thought he would become accustomed to [being orphaned], not yet understanding that it is useless to become accustomed to the loss of a father, for it will never happen a second time: might as well leave the wound open."
--Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before, end of chapter 7
I miss him. So much.


Susan Rose, CSJP said...

There's nothing to prepare yourself for the loss of a parent (my mom died 3 years ago from cancer). Take care G. Know you are in my prayers.

St. Izzy said...

G says:
The phone has rung off the hook, condolences.... Very well meaning yet so wearisome.

In Book 2, Part I [2] i of Graham Greene's The heart of the Matter (a book that cuts very close to the bone for me), Scobie is talking with a young girl who has just been widowed and thinks to himself:

It seemed to him that what she needed more than anything was just talk, silly aimless talk. She thought that she wanted to be alone, but what she was afraid of was the awful responsibility of receiving sympathy.

Grieve well,

Jennifer said...

G ~ this is such a beautiful and warm post. I'm glad that you were able to be there. I am so very sorry for what you are going through. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

The wound will always be there, though its sharpness will dim with time. But the best thing about the wound is that you have it because you were loved by your father, and you have so many memories of being loved by him.