Today I Bathed in the Ganges

Tuni at Rest.

Tuni at Rest.

Today I bathed in the Ganges.  Tuni Harrison died on the 14th of August 2013.  She had heart surgery the day before, but her heart gave out.  Today, three days after her death, Bijoy and I went to the river, with a Priest, and gave rites to send her on her journey.  We offered clothes, food, milk, flowers, incense, and so many prayers.  And then we immersed ourselves in the river three times, and pushed water out into the river three times, and I cried because I want her journey to be wonderful while I also want her back in my arms.  I accept, but I am bereft.  Even as I send her off to be with the Gods, I also call for her to come back soon.  I’ll be looking for her.  I will always be looking for her.  When she came into my life I felt as if I’d always been looking for her.  When she died I felt that I’d lost someone I’d always known.

Souls sang to my heart,

The winds taking them afar,

My nestlings flourished.

Yes this is true.  My children, my nestlings, flourished.  And when they were grown, I went looking for where the winds had taken the others.  Tuni came home to me, and now she is gone… Like a little God, she came and filled our hearts, and the hearts of so many around the world, and then she left….. with the slightest smile on her sleeping face.

I am raw.  My life is raw.  I am immersed, as if in the Ganges.  Tuni came for a purpose, a light and a gift, but I think we are only at the beginning of her impact in our lives.

In the days ahead I will write and post pictures of the last seven days.  It was just a week ago that I took her for an evaluation and the doctors decided we could not wait for surgery as her blue spells were increasing, and medication was not helping.  Here at Shishur Sevay we arranged for an oxygen concentrator and bought a pulse oxymeter.  It was frightening when she would turn blue, and cry and then go limp…..

Today I bathed in the Ganges.

Coming out from the Ganges

I Did Laundry and Cleaned the Kitchen While MaaDurga Slay the Demons

We are in the midst of the Pooja Festivals.  Today is Maha Navami, the ninth lunar day of the holiday.   As per Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga killed Chando and Mundo, two asuras (demons) at the confluence (Sandhi) of Maha Ashtami and Mahanavami.  In Kolkata the holiday is both religious and secular.

Today we were very short on help.  The big girls were invited out.  So we made do. I did laundry.  Many times in my life when stress was high, so much on my mind, doing laundry grounded me.  There is something about the simple work of cleaning, the repetitive necessity of life, attending to the basics.  Wash the clothes, spin dry, hang to dry, and fold….. appreciate that we have water, electricity, a washing machine, and sun in the garden…

I cleaned under the refrigerator.  I don’t think this had been done for months even though we have a schedule.  I just had a feeling it would be bad under there.  I bought a refrigerator with wheels so I could move it easily.  I vacuumed with my little hand held that I use mostly for around computer wires.  I poured detergent and scrubbed with a green ScotchBrite pad.  Then I cleaned the freezer, and then the refrigerator doors.  Feeling really inspired I cleaned the doors of the steel pantry, and then went after the shelves where water bottles and pitchers are kept.  I filled a garbage can with stuff to go out.

Pearl, our house supervisor was here and pitched in.  I called Gibi and told her we were without help and she came.  Between us, we really did fine.  I bathed the little ones.  I think for Bono, this was the highlight of her festival, that Mummy gave her a bath.  She did not stop squealing with joy.   I’m “special” to all of them so having me taking care of them really made their day.

I downloaded another iPad program to try with Rani, Bono, and Sonali.  You had to get little circles together so the fish would eat them.  It’s a math game but they loved following the action, and their touching the screen didn’t shut down the program.  The iPads are a wonderful addition, partly because the programs are also fun for the teachers.  I had fun, so the kids had fun with me.  I did have to remind myself once to keep them in the game as I suddenly got too focused on winning.

Laundry, kitchen cleaning, and slaying dragons.  All are necessary for our existence, and at different times we play different roles.  For me as a woman, especially one who faces demons, the daily activity of taking care of children anchors me and gives me strength.

Tomorrow, on Dashami, we are all invited to a community lunch put on by a local club that has been very supportive.  The girls will all pitch in, and we will all go, walking,  in wheelchairs… our little family procession…

The lives of our girls are not simple, nor are  they without scars, and wounds that are not yet healed.  We try to live three steps ahead of  demons within, looking for hope and light and promises we can believe.

Maa Durga has come to Earth with her four children, Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi, and Saraswati to visit her parents. She stays for four days to eradicate all evil from the earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva at Kailash on Dashami. 

As every woman knows, you must first do the laundry and clean the kitchen if good is to overcome evil in your home.

September 2019
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