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Unselfing Transience

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posted by Ramen Saha alias Ramen Saha on Sunday 13th of September 2020 09:05:18 AM

My dear Bapi, These days, my life feels like a whole lot of white-ink scribbles on white paper – blank on blank. After investing past few decades in securing the best for myself –career, family, finances, and all other peaks a young person covets– I am suddenly growing weary of the highland. These highlands of life, these dreadful middle years, are soiling me. Not in a bad or destructive way, but more so as the aroma-robbing wind, which numbs the flower. As the flower contemplates the chill in the air, I too reflect on the worth of my life often… how am I supposed to live the rest of it when I have already achieved almost everything I wanted to, much of which is useless anyways? A few days ago, we were in Yosemite. An aside, I wish you could visit Yosemite; like Rishabh and I, you too would have utterly loved these mountains. On that day, as the sun leaned westward, the lyrical Yosemite monoliths lifted my heart with their spiritual presence. You used to say, we are the transient, mountains and waterfalls are the permanent. That afternoon, I felt your words reverberating in my head. Indeed, they are the perpetual and we are the ephemeral. Bowing to the mountains and your wisdom, I gave my thanks to both. And in doing so, I reflected on your life to interpret my own. Let me explain. A few weeks ago, on social media, Pinky put up an old photograph from one of our family excursions (1988?). In the photo, all five of us were standing on a rocky outcrop, somewhat precariously, in front of the lovely Hundru waterfall. Three of us siblings were in the middle while ma and you were on the sides, perhaps subconsciously protecting us from any unforeseen danger as invincible parentheses. You were standing to my left with your right hand laid softly on my right shoulder... a physical manifestation of a father’s tenderness that I register very well these days when I stand on waterfall ledges with Rishabh. Strikingly, both of us were smiling similarly... you more genuinely than me, who seemed a bit cocky due to his teenage years. Like the thunderous waterfall in the background, our bonds are clearly on display in that photograph. Staring long at it, I realized, you in that photograph are about the same age as I am these days. Back then, you too had conquered all the peaks I have scaled so far and likely, you too were lost in these highlands as I am now. A few reflections later, it hit me like a flash –– In living the rest of your life from there on, you have bequeathed a much-needed template to salve mine. And boy, what a mighty template it is for salving a mellowing scattering life! To truly live –your life screams– is to live for others. As I comb through my memories, your extraordinary ability of –borrowing from Iris Murdoch– unselfing stands out. The candle burns to illuminate, the seed dissolves to sprout, and you lived to make other lives better. You met your impermanence with true transcendence by unselfing yourself. Now when you live in a better place in a faraway world, your life here remains permanently etched in the rest of us like those sempiternal mountains. As for me… everywhen I lose my will or way to unself, I close my eyes to feel your hand laid softly on my right shoulder. Thus protected from any harm by my invincible parenthesis, I am now able to step outside my ‘self’, surrender to needs of others, and live. Six painful years later, I still miss you. And as you very well know, Rishabh and I love you more than you know.

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  • Published 07.07.22
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