Posts Tagged ‘death’

Pouring out…ghee and grief

August 16, 2019

The young daughter pours the oblation of ghee into the sacred fire of the “havan”…and her tears pour down her tender young face.

My own eyes fill as I see the sorrow of the toughest part of growing up. If Agni and Swaha do not take her love up to her father, surely those twin streams of salt and grief will do so.

IMG_6042 Outpouring of ghee and grief, Blr, 160819


Animal rescue..and afterwards

July 30, 2019

As I stepped into the shower, I noticed a tiny little bug crawling along the ledge where I keep my soap and shampoo. As the water started splashing around, I suddenly realized that a waterdrop had quite inundated the tiny creature. Full of compassion, I used my fingernail to delicately lift up the bug to the vertical wall, where the water would drip off it.

I wondered if I had damaged it, and waited anxiously for a while, looking at the motionless little thing. After a while, it slowly began to crawl up the wall. Brimming with happiness at this animal rescue, I stepped out of the shower stall. Wrapping my towel around me, I walked out of the bathoom, quickly swatting a pesky mosquito.

P N Akhila, 301054-231118

November 27, 2018

When I married and moved to R K Nagar (Rama Krishna Nagar), Chennai, I underwent a lot of difficulties…the usual ones with an arranged marriage. I made friends with Akhila, who lived opposite…and truly, her affection (and generally sweet nature) carried me through those difficult years. She was exactly 7 days younger than I am.

Later, she took up a job, married, moved to Hyderabad…our contact was more sporadic, but there was never any change in our love for each other. She managed her job and her home, brought up two very sweet daughters, and dealt with many blows with her usual gentle courage. I managed to visit her in Hyderabad, and we met when the family was in Bangalore, too.

On an impulse, I’d emailed her to “update” and just before her 64th birthday (30th Oct), she called, explained about a serious illness, and sounded as cheerful about that as she’s always done about everything else. I sent her birthday wishes as usual, and was totally shattered to get a reply a couple of days ago from her elder daughter, saying that she’d passed away on Nov.23.

I have always called her “doe-eyed”. We were two women in two different, busy worlds, and yet we found chances to meet and keep our loving friendship up…I wipe the tears that roll down my cheeks, and carry on with my daily chores. This is life…the mundane soothes, masks, and trumps over the emotions.

My dear, dear Maankannu…my life is much poorer without your sweetness. 64…no age to go…but we have to answer the call, when it comes. I will regain my smile in a while…but right now…I miss my friend, who was almost a sister.

To a dead butterfly

November 1, 2018


Oh, little one…why did you die?
Were you attacked by a bird
That wanted you for food?
Or did your energy just give out,
As your wings folded up for good?
With so many others about,
Your death throes not heard?
No answers.You lie there…why, oh why?
The stilling of life, the departure of breath…
The profound mystery of life…and death.

On the passing of Mythri, 100118

January 10, 2018

Every moment that I live,breathe, look, sigh…
May be someone’s last moment on earth.
So tough to understand this, but it is true.
More and more often, when I hear of young people dying
I wonder why there is no logic in life or death.
Why should I, having lived a full life, and with no regrets,
Not be taken, and a young life,
Full of talent, hard work and promise,
Not be spared to the world?
Why should old sere trees, their uses long gone,
Creak on, moaning of the past to the world,
While young saplings,which we hope will grow
And mature into giants,
Be cut down in a lightning swathe of random fate?
I do not understand life…or death.

A blank wall

December 3, 2017

When I think of Death, I face a blank wall.
I realize that I do not know Death at all.
Will I just stop? Will I cease to be?
Or is there, just further, what I cannot see?
Will I be born again? / As a human, or a worm?
Would I move in someone’s bloodstream…
A single-celled germ?
Would my spirit float free?
Would my sins be wiped out?
Would I live on, just not me,
Only when I got talked about?
Would I really exist, apart from this shell?
Would I ascend to Heaven, or just go to hell?
For the answers to these…
Upon whom can I call?
I can ask as much as I please…
No one knows Death, at all!

Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

The Nano graveyard

July 15, 2017

We went on a nature/birding walk to Kalena Agrahara today, and skirted the lake at IDBI Bank Layout. I was amazed to see several Nano cars parked, and rusting in the monsoon weather.


There must have been about sixty of the cars, parked all around.


At a conservative estimate of Rs.2 lakhs per car, that’s Rs. 80 lakhs just wasting away.


I finally found this banner, saying that these cars apparently belong to this rental initiative:


The problem in our country seems to be, not lack of good initiatives, but keeping up with them. I have tried to call this number to find out why so many cars are rusting…and could not get through. I will try again on Monday (which should be a working day.)  But meanwhile…would it not have been better to just donate these cars rather than let such an investment waste away in this fashion?

“Oh…this is a new AirBnB effort!” said my friend Rekha-Ram Lakshmanan, from St.Louis, when he saw the cars. “No,” I riposted, “This is CarBnB!”

What a sad state of affairs. Can anyone throw any more light on this failed initiative?

Minnal Shaffer, 190108

January 19, 2017

In front of the waving grasses in an urban park
Facing the calm waters
Lies a small brick, upon the ground,
That carries your name.
O dear one, my firstborn’s firstborn,
You went away before you even came into this world.
Souls of great ones, our scriptures say,
Do not have long to spend on this earth.
Coccooned within your mother,
You had very little time.
But you were here long enough
For us to love, remember, and cherish you.
You remind us how every live birth,
Every normal child,
Is nothing short of several miracles.
You were a lightning flash that touched our lives;
But,like lighnting, you had great power
To open our eyes to the fragility of life.
Your home in our hearts is eternal,
As is that of every being whose lifespan is small.

Life and death…and thoughts

September 25, 2014

ஜென்மம் நிறைந்தது சென்றவர் வாழ்க
சிந்தை கலங்கிட வந்தவர் வாழ்க
நீரில் மிதந்திடும் கண்களும் காய்க
நிம்மதி நிம்மதி இவ்விடம் சூழ்க

The life is over; hail to the person who left.
Hail to the person who concerned us.
Let the eyes swimming in tears dry up;
Let peace and calm prevail.

ஜனனமும் பூமியில் புதியது இல்லை
மரணத்தை போல் ஒரு பழையதும் இல்லை
இரண்டும் இல்லாவிடில் இயற்கையும் இல்லை
இயற்கையின் ஆணைதான் ஞானத்தின் எல்லை

Birth is nothing new upon this earth.
There is nothing older than death.
Without both, there is no Nature.
The laws of Nature are the far reaches of wisdom.

பாசமுலவிய கண்களும் எங்கே
பாய்ந்து துலாவிய கைகளும் எங்கே
தேசம் அளாவிய கால்களும் எங்கே
தீ உண்டதென்றது சாம்பலும் இங்கே

Where are the eyes filled with love?
Where are the hands that moved?
Where are the feet that straddled this earth
There are only the ashes, after the consuming fire.

கண்ணில் தெரிந்தது காற்றுடன் போக
மண்ணில் பிறந்தது மண்ணுடன் சேர்க
எலும்பு சதை கொண்ட உருவங்கள் போக
எச்சங்களால் அந்த இன்னுயிர் வாழ்க

What one could see, goes with the wind.
What is born on earth, returns to the earth.
The form made of flesh and bones disappears
May the soul live forever.

பிறப்பு இல்லாமலே நாளொன்று இல்லை
இறப்பு இல்லாமலும் நாளொன்று இல்லை
நேசத்தினால் வரும் நினைவுகள் தொல்லை
மறதியை போல் ஒரு மாமருந்தில்லை

There is no day without a birth
There is no day without a death
The memories born out of love trouble us.
There is no medicine like forgettin.

கடல் தொடும் ஆறுகள் கலங்குவதில்லை
தரை தொடும் தரைகள் அழுவதும் இல்லை
நதி மழை போன்றதே விதி ஒன்று கண்டும்
மதி கொண்ட மானுடர் மயங்குவதென்ன

The rivers which the ocean touches, do not worry;
The lands that touch other lands, do not weep.
When they percieve a Fate that is a like a river or rain
Why do intelligent humans get enmeshed?

மரணத்தினால் சில கோவங்கள் தீரும்
மரணத்தினால் சில சாபங்கள் தீரும்
வேதம் சொல்லாததை மரணங்கள் கூறும்
விதை ஒன்று வீழ்ந்திடில் செடி வந்து சேரும்

With death, some angers will cease.
With death, some curses will end.
Death clarifies what even the Vedas do not say.
Where a seed falls, a plant will rise.

பூமிக்கு நாமொரு யாத்திரை வந்தோம்
யாத்திரை தீருமுன் நித்திரை கொண்டோம்
நித்திரை போவது நியதி என்றாலும்
யாத்திரை என்பது தொடர் கதையாகும்

We came to this earth on a journey
Before journey’s end, we fell asleep.
Though sleeping is in our destiny,
Our journey is a serial tale.

தென்றலின் பூங்கரம் தீண்டிடும் போதும்
சூரிய கீற்றொளி தோன்றிடும் போதும்
மழழையின் தேன்மொழி செவியுறும் போதும்
மாண்டவர் எம்முடன் வாழ்ந்திட கூடும்

When the soft southern breeze touches us,
When the rays of the rising sun touch us,
When we hear the honeyed sound of the rain,
Those who are departed, may live with us again.

மாண்டவர் சுவாசங்கள் காற்றுடன் சேர்க
தூயவர் கண்ணொளி சூரியன் சேர்க
பூதங்கள் ஐந்திலும் உன்னுடல் சேர்க
போனவர் புண்ணியம் எம்முடன் சேர்க

May the breath of the departed mix with the breeze.
May the light of their eyes mingle with the sun.
May your body merge with the Five Elements
May the good deeds of the departed belong to us.

போனவர் புண்ணியம் எம்முடன் சேர்க
போனவர் புண்ணியம் எம்முடன் சேர்க

May the good deeds of the departed belong to us.
May the good deeds of the departed belong to us.

Here’s the transliteration and a much better translation by R Shankar:

janmam niRaindadu senRavar vAzhga
sindai kalangiDa vandavar vAzhga
nIril midandiDum kaNgaLum kAyga
nimmadi nimmadi ivviDam sUzhga
Life was full, blessed be the departed
Blessed be the ones who made us grieve
May eyes that swim in tears dry out
May tranquility pervade, here and everywhere

jananamum bhUmiyil pudiyadu illai
maraNattai pOl oru pazhaiyadum illai
iraNDum illAviDil iyaRkaiyum illai
iyaRkaiyin ANaidAn nyAnattin ellai
Birth on this earth is nothing new
Nothing more timeworn than death
But without them natural order will perish
The bounds of knowledge are but nature’s mandates

pAsamulAviya kaNgaLum engE
pAyndu tuzhAviya kaigaLum engE
dEsam aLAviya kAlgaLum engE
tI uNDadenRadu sAmbalum ingE
Where are the loving eyes?
Where are the hands that leapt to feel and search?
Where are the feet that measured the world?
Ashes and left-overs (from fire’s meal) are all that remain

kaNNil terindadu kATRuDan pOga
maNNil piRandadu maNNuDan sErga
elumbu sadai koNDa uruvangaL pOga
eccangaLAl anda innuyir vAzhga
What was evident has gone with the wind
Born of the earth, is now unto the earth
Skin and bone have evanesced
May that sweet life live on despite defects

piRappu illAmalE nALonRu illai
iRappu illAmalum nALonRu illai
nEsattinAl varum ninaivugaL tollai
maRadiyai pOl oru mAmarundillai
A day without birth isn’t possible
Nor a day without death
Loving thoughts are the malady
There’s no panacea like amnesia

kaDal toDum ARugaL kalanguvadillai
tarai toDum tAraigaL azhuvadum illai
nadi mazhai pOnRadE vidhi enRu kaNDum
madi koNDa mAnuDar mayanguvadenna
Rivers draining in the ocean are not distressed
Rays touching the ground do not shed tears
Knowing that rivers and rain are but fate
Why are intelligent men bewildered

maraNattinAl sila kOpangaL tIrum
maraNattinAl sila sApangaL tIrum
vEdam sollAdadai maraNangaL kURum
vidai onRu vIzhndiDil seDi vandu sErum
Wrath expires with death
Imprecations vanish with death
What scriptures do not, death does teach
If a seed falls, a tree will result

bhUmikku nAmoru yAttirai vandOm
yAttirai tIrumun nittirai koNDOm
nittirai pOvadu niyadi enRAlum
yAttirai enbadu toDar kadaiyAgum
We’ve come on a journey to this earth
We’ve gone to sleep before journey’s end
Even if sleep were pre-ordained
The journey itself is without end

tenRalin pUnkaram tINDiDum pOdum
sUriya kITRoLi tOnRiDum pOdum
mazhalaiyin tEnmozhi seviyuRum pOdum
mANDavar emmuDan vAzhndiDa kUDum
When the gentle fingers of the wind caress
When a sliver of sunlight sparkles
When the prattle of babes fills our ears
The dead come back to our lives

mANDavar suvAsangaL kATRuDan sErga
tUyavar kaNNoLi sUriyan sErga
bhUtangaL aindilum unnuDal sErga
pOnavar puNNiyam emmuDan sErga
May the breath of the dead mingle with the wind
May the brightness of their eyes brighten the sun
May their bodies become one with the elements
May their virtue become ours