Tuesday, March 24, 2009
By The River Ganga She Sat Down And Wept
The place that has seen sages, hermits, saints, meditation, penance, salvation, Yoga and epiphany.
Rishikesh. On the banks of the Ganges.
The place that saw tears.
For, in Rishikesh, on the banks of Ganges, she sat down and wept.
I have wondered why happiness brings tears.
Happiness, when it comes after a long time, brings along with it a realization of all the sorrow one has had to live with, in the past and a realization of all that one was entitled to enjoy but was deprived of, for no perceivable fault of theirs.
One becomes consumed in self pity.
What was it that brought tears to her eyes on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh?
Ganges. A solemn name. She was drawn to that solemn name and all that it stood for.
She sat down, her feet immersed in the river up to her ankles.
As the sun came closer to the horizon, all sounds retreated to the background – the noise of street hawkers, the vulgarity of the motor vehicles, the clutter of people, the chirping of the birds, the bells in the temple. As the day came to a close, all sounds became tired.
All that the girl could hear was the gurgle and murmur of the river.
It was evening. There was a gentle breeze.
The Ganges was flowing in the valley in all her breadth, depth and calm.
Her swell was overwhelming.
Her music was a silent drone.
Her mood was contemplative.
Her disposition was grave. It was the disposition of someone who had seen it all, someone who had known it all.
She had been flowing thus since eternity, after all.
The girl heaved a sigh.
She was aware of herself and of the Ganges whose proximity was overpowering and humbling. She was aware of just the two of them and nothing else.
Such an atmosphere of vast spaces filled with silence, the close proximity of an emblem of eternity such as a river that has been flowing ever since, that has seen it all and from whom nothing can be hidden, predispose a person to come to a reckoning with life and to realize the summation of his life; and all this, more certainly with a feeling of poignance than without.
As the girl sat there, contemplating all that she had gained and all that she had lost… what pained her most was not the loss of something but the realization that there was not much to lose. There had never been.
Such is the quality of love. One, who has love in their life, has everything. And one, who does not have love, has nothing.
She had everything and yet, there was a lacuna.
If her life could be likened to a musical performance, then love was like the shruti in her life. Other notes of music rise and fall but the shruti sounds all the time, accompanying all other notes, as the lutes are plucked and strummed on a Tamburi, by the never tiring fingers of the musician.
And this shruti of love resounded, not with an abundance of love in life but with a craving and thirst, born out of a deprivation of love.
Precious years of childhood had been wasted in unnecessary admonition, chastising, rebuking, vigilance, estrangement and what not.
The most painful of them all was estrangement. Scoldings and beatings can be taken. Quarrels and skirmishes can be forgotten. But estrangement? How pitiable it is to be looked down upon like an untouchable by your own blood…
How hurtful it is not to belong to your own home.
It was estrangement that did most of the damage …to her heart and her soul during those formative years. And how long those wounds took to heal!
It was upon healing that the realization came of how much damage the wounds had done!
As the bud blossomed…
She talked about love, read love stories, wrote about love in her poems, dreamed about love, sang love songs and listened to love. But that wretched feeling! The ever elusive one!
Precious years passed, but the waiting never came to an end. She had clung to the parachute of hope for a long time and her soul had begun to ache. Even the thirst had begun to die.
Love remained deeply entrenched…the shruti sounded ever more loudly.
The cool breeze caressed her face, her hair and her body.
The river spoke words of care to her in gurgles and murmur.
The girl cupped her hand, filled it with some water and drank it. The water was sweet.
The Ganges listened patiently without uttering a word. She understood all. She did not protest once. She only knew how to give. Never did she take away anything from anyone.
She was so full of life, so complete, unbelievably flawless and full of love like a mother.
Mother! Mother…… When was the last time she had received a hug or a kiss from her mother? When was the last time she rested her head in her mother’s lap? She did not even remember… neither a comforting touch, nor a comforting word. Not in a long time… Never… Not once.
The woman who had given her birth had drifted away in those years…irrevocably lost in nagging… complaining… comparisons… pleasing the society and relatives…generation gap…she drifted away and away from the outstretched arms of a needy girl…
The Ganges was listening. A mother was listening.
The girl became overwhelmed. All that was bottled up within for years came up swelling and rising, rupturing every barrier of self control until the floodgates were forced open and tears flowed…
By the river Ganga, she sat down and wept…
…Over the ruins of her childhood…over love that had eluded her always…over the loss of a mother she never had in the first place….over the denial of a mother’s love to her, the love that every child in the universe was entitled to…she continued to weep… even as the shruti continued to sound…
By the river Ganga, she sat down and wept.