It had been an exhausting day of physical work. He was young, and his 60-year old friend had asked for his help to unpack her things in her new house. All day they had opened boxes, split through packaging paper, and arranged various objects at their right place in the new house. Their hands were covered in dust, their bodies were tired and aching. From morning to late afternoon, they had been working, except for a short break at lunch time to eat vegetables from yesterday and freshly cooked rice. The freshly painted new house, still very bare, despite the boxes over boxes of belongings waiting to be unpacked, looked at them like a stranger. The locality – far away from the heart of the city, in the outskirts, as if in another world altogether, was also a stranger.

She was exhausted and asked him if he could unpack the two cartons containing her books, and then they could call it a day. The books were to go into a beautiful wooden cupboard. “Please keep the dharma books on top,” she said. He opened the boxes and began to take out the books. Books on education, from her former career. Books on development work. Books on poetry – English, Hindi, Urdu. Premchand. Faiz. Books on sexuality. And then the dharma books. The beaming smile of the Dalai Lama, spiritual rock star, global teddy bear, shone on a few of them. Other lamas appeared on other covers. He read the titles curiously and arranged the books on the top shelf.

Bending forward to pick up the remaining few books, his hand landed on a large, hardcover book. “One Thousand Moons: Krishnamurti at Eighty-Five”. Of course, he knew the book. He had seen it many times earlier at retreat centres. He was pleasantly surprised to find it here among the dharma books. It was a book of photographs of the teacher, across the world – India, England, USA, elsewhere. The teacher as an elderly, wise man. He was not entirely surprised, for his friend had once worked in one of the schools set up by the man who this book was about.

He opened the book. The first page said, “For dearest uncle, with best wishes, Usha, Amit, Siddharth.” It was a gift to the friend’s late father. He turned the pages and saw the pictures. Rishi Valley, the dry, brown mountains around it. The little children. The large campus, with modest, traditional, simple Indian buildings. The teacher in Indian clothes – kurta pyjama and a waist coat. Rajghat, Varanasi – the sacred Ganga flowing past the campus. The lush greenery. The tall trees under which the teacher would sit. The large school that looked like a garden, lined everywhere with flowers – red, pink, orange, white. The children, again. Madras. A large house in the middle of the city. Gardens ahead of it. A quiet oasis in a mad city. The place where the teacher spoke to the public for the last time, five years after these pictures were taken.

He had been to all these places and been deeply touched by the atmosphere there. Like everywhere, there too there was noise and superficiality, but also a silent spirit of contemplation remained.

He continued to turn the pages. A sadness came over him as he saw these pictures. He did not know where it was from. He did not know what to do with it. It was the teacher and his memories. They had never met, but as if, somewhere outside time, they had met and made a pact. The pictures asked him if he remembered that pact. Did he remember the intensity of consciousness, the raging fire that continually creates, the fullness of meaning in every moment, the outpouring of love, as quiet and affectionate as is sword of truth sharp and dispassionate?

He had forgotten. Like mists settling over a mirror, the encumbrances of everyday life had made the resplendent reality fade away.

The dust, the cardboard boxes, the disorder of today, like the traffic, the deadlines, the work pressures of yesterday, had clouded over the mirror that the teachings were. He had not become oblivious to them, but they were not his living reality either.

The sorrow was a message from the beyond. Like everything else. He remembered, he longed, he asked what he was alive for.


~ by tdcatss on February 20, 2018.

2 Responses to “Notes”

  1. Wow! Brilliant.

  2. Thanks :)

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