I see you moving in haste To get the next thing That will ease your husband’s pain Just a little bit. Night and day, you manage so many things: Your job, your suffering in-laws, parents, and others. Your household, visitors.. Your own pain, that you do not talk of. You show him a smiling face, always. You did all this through the years, Twenty years ago; For the past eight months, With less and less to sustain your hope, You have continued to be a rock of support To your ill spouse…cocooning him in your love And selfless care. Yet, you’ve also found time To visit other friends during important times In their lives.Your generosity, your large heart, The incredible amount of hard work… I cannot even begin to be like you. I can only admire the wonderful person you are, And be intensely grateful that you are my friend Since that first day I saw you, as a bride… You learnt music from me, but you have taught me So much over the years. I truly believe that, like Savitri, You would bargain with Yama For the life of your spouse. Your name means victory… You are victorious over the many petty thoughts And failings which the rest of us have. My dearest friend…you are more than I can ever understand. I wish there was a way I could take some of your pain and your tiredness. But I stand near you, helpless…and just watch you suffer. Beloved friend, you are the sister I never had… I wish I could take away your difficulties And give you the life of happiness that you deserve. Life…has not been fair to you: And yet, you never complain, but go about each day Coping, managing…and smiling when you can.
I get the news That a life, once vigorous, Is ebbing. I do not know how long The tide will remain And when the waters, receding, Will take the light with them. The skies darken, But there is no beauty from the stars; Instead, there is the gloomy Overcast darkness of heavy clouds overhead. Helpless, powerless, I remain Distant: no amount of my love Can let me experience what that ebbing life And those who are part of the family Are going through now. I move… Like a pendulum, from worried grief, To acceptance of what must be. A life of trying to think positively Does not allow me to let go of hope altogether. Perhaps, something will work? Some herb will stem the irrevocable tide Of galloping illness? Hope, hopelessness: if I swing So uncontrollably between these two, I can only imagine what those who are close must be feeling. On top of everything else lies guilt: Did I do enough when I could? Is there anything I can do now… Which I am not doing? Why am I healthy, when my friend lies there With health leaching out? My mind tosses and turns, It seeks peace only in meditation. Let me let go for a while…and try and sort myself Find inner peace in the midst of the turmoil. Life and death are, and will be, eternal mysteries. Let me not try and solve them, Eroding myself in the effort.
On the road back from Valparai, my friend Manivannan spotted, in a small empty lot near the place where we stopped for our evening chai,
One of the unexpected sights on our journey to Valparai was that of this