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She was thinking of reality being an illusion. She read some article about it recently. But then Dadu’s voice echoed in her mind and she thought of him saying something very similar.
Uff shotti shotti! Dadu was always talking about things that made most people uncomfortable- karma, tapas, dhyana and such ideas. “As a man soweth, so shall he also reap…”, now the words took shape in her consciousness and made themselves visible, like actors illuminated by spot-lights on a dark stage. They looked a bit fearful as they bowed to her, but she welcomed them with a grimace.
Dadu also spoke about past lives and the future.
People thought he was a bit strange. The lady next door, Tarun’s keokarpin makha grandmother called it vairagya and thought of him as some sort of sadhubaba, some people thought of Dadu as a vestige from the past, a useless piece of rusty machinery in this technological world of twenty peta-flops, for what good is a man of conscience? What is his need, his relevance?
Do what thou wilt and that is the whole law, this is the mantra of the new world. Who cares about others, the environment, the Earth? Oh, you must be some stinky hippy to live in that ideology, those days are gone, right? Now it’s all about hoarding, all about where technology is leading us, to Venus, yes? Let the computer decide, humans and their corrupted laziness!! Growth, industrial and technological is the alienation where human touch or compassion, community-based life are flawed old school ways to be flushed down the toilet; where the ego of a select few has become the size of the Solar System is the way mankind seems to be moving.
Dadu had lost interest in everything that the world around him had to offer. He was no Don Juan Demarko, but was he ever interested in anything at all? He would spend hours locked up in a tiny hole in the attic. Everybody thought he was painting or carving into pieces of wood he sourced on his trips to his village or in Khandala or in some forest or the other. An averagely successful Chartered Accountant by day and painter, sculptor by night, he lived his life in silent spiritual contemplation, reading, going for long walks and practising kriya yoga.
His gurudeva was his whole life, always has been and always will be, even in death. His param guru was Lahiri Mahasaya and his gurudeva was Mahavatar Babaji, holy sadhus from the ancient tradition which is much older than I am.
Nights were devoted to painting and meditation, his paintings developed into energy vortices, spiritual radiance emanating from them. He carved out such intense faces into the pieces of wood that there were no words that could describe them. They were not human as you’d understand them; they were of different worlds, faces and forms glimpsed by Dali and the Surrealists.
Dadu always said that the pieces of wood spoke to him and suggested what to carve into them, as if they knew what they were meant to become. He just followed the shape that the wood showed him and thus these faces were born, gargoylish, demonic, angelic, chrubic. There were a few Earthly faces too; Dadu did a great carving of Rabindranath Tagore. It looked as if the Kobiguru had manifested into that wood, so real it seemed.
While he sculpted that face, one of his favourite songs always played in the background, “Aguner porosh moni choyayo prane, aye jibon purno koro, aye jibon, purno koro, aye jibon purno koro…” and although not much of a singer, he sang along softly, his fingers moving deftly to create new ideas and bring shape to new beings.
Rajanikanta, just by merit of being Rajanikanto, not equipped with the arsenal of sneaky cut-throatism, ego the size of Arcturus, unable to belch behenchod, chutiya when required, was just useless in the world of successful men; he did not manage to generate any finances through his creative endeavours, most of them rotting away to early graves in his studio.
Let me elaborate on what I mean by this.. He lost his wife to a heart-crippling incident. She hanged herself, in his deepest spiritual recesses he knew that she had to leave. He never blamed her, not even for a moment, only loved her more and more in his solitude. The rest of the world said it drove Sita insane to lose her nine months old toddler son in a terribly unfortunate accident, her daughter Supriya to cancer and finally Mita and Shubho to the floods that killed over five thousand people during the chardham Yatra.
After Sita’s death and after losing his two daughters, he left the practise of lies, deceit and black money dealings, of course all his fortune to his son, retreated into a private world with his granddaughters. His son lapped it up, like a hungry mongrel; the girls leaving with Rajani couldn’t have been more perfect. Good riddance to bad rubbish, he thought. After all what good is a man like that? Banaprasthya is the way to go. Not once did he think of the two twins, his sister’s daughters.
It’s 1965; the scene takes place in the afternoon in some tiny village called Arambagh in some remote corner of Bengal. Rajani and Sita had four healthy lovely children. The youngest was barely nine months. After a heavy and sumptuous meal of macher matha diye dal, Shorshe illish and gobindobhog chal, force-fed repeatedly by Sita’s mother, they retired gorged in the shanty hut by the lake.
Gogo, the toddler was asleep in his mother’s arms. It was an idyllic setting. The panoramic rural Bengal of those days, untainted by industrialization, so green, so very pastoral; it makes of man a poet, a philosopher, “Banglar mukh ami dekhechi, tai ami prithibir rup khunjite jai na arr…”
My mother’s smile-
A pain, a pleasure.
This haiku had aroused conflicting emotions in our poetess.
I must say I stood still- Time stood still. Little Gogo was waking up, stirring slowly. Sita was still asleep. He sat up and extricating himself from his mother’s light embrace, he toddled off. I watched. He went near the river. The breeze was soft, the afternoon mellow, as if the picture of arcadian bliss. Gogo smiled to see his reflection, he stooped down to touch it.
A bolt of electricity passed through Sita’s subconscious, she cried out as she awoke. Her heart jumped into her mouth to see her arms empty. Where was Gogo? Where was her son? She shook Rajani. He was lost in dreams and awoke with a start. Childhood visions of some jatra he had seen with his father were swimming in his dreams that afternoon. The echo of Ravana’s laughter rang out in his ears creating an ominous premonition. They ran out together as if a thousand swords compelled them to.
TO BE CONTINUED