It is about 9:00 pm in the graveyard and I am standing alone next to my father’s grave. The eerie silence and placid darkness create a solemn atmosphere pierced by the chirping of crickets and call of the toads. The sky is blitzing with threads of thunder that looks like white electric sparks in a deep blue ocean. As the nature cloaks itself in the gown of the night, the moonlit glow makes the earth seem crystal clear visible across the horizon. As I stand alone in the graveyard which holds my father, it seems the quite neighborhood is coming into life with the aura of the subdued light and calm whisper that have been unleashed by the drizzle and thunder, wind and storm. As the inhabitants of this neighborhood of eternity lay side by side, rows after rows, blocks after blocks and as far as the eyes can gaze – I wonder where my father is roaming in the midst of the crowd that lives more in our imagination and less in our realizations. Let me take you with me in this small walk of life and death, heaven and earth, memories and aspirations, doubts and convictions as the night deepens and thoughts sharpen.
Two years ago when I lost my father, it seemed more like a sudden disconnect as opposed to a journey transformed. At that time, I wrote two articles in which I shared the experience of a son treading the journey next to a father’s slow and silent walk into “Sunset of Life” as quoted by Ronald Reagan, the late US President who embraced Alzheimer culminating in the final years of his obliviousness. To be honest, I was quite overwhelmed by the responses and letters I got from so many unknown people from both within and outside the country. It seemed like that the journey I spoke about was not a journey of my own after all, but rather it was an embodiment of a pilgrimage that many were taking on their own and unleashed by the same forces of love for life and fight for survival. In retrospect it seems that I only happened to be a spokesperson for many in the same mission of fate de accompli. As time has progressed, the death of my father has been assuming a more philosophical plane as opposed to missing mostly the physical and emotional content of his presence.
When our loved ones leave us, we find reasons and means to have our life flow unabated as it is too precious to be ceased by one incident – no matter how severe the impact of the loss may be. On the other hand, if we are reflective enough and have some degree of faith in the afterworld, the emotional connect between the living and the dead take a new dimension. Time passages indeed redefine the roles and responsibilities of the earthlings and eternal pilgrims. As silence takes over noise, memories replace experience, and thoughts subdue actions – one slowly comes into terms with a different kind of relationship the fabric of which is woven in the intricate threads of love and emotion, feeling and compassion. Our souls take a spiritual flight in search for the eternity that unites us all.
As we move on with life, in every twist and turn of fate, we realize how the shadow of the departed continues to trail us in our daily experience of success and failure. When we act defiant in the face of intimidations, we hear that deeper voice that inculcated the spirit in our formative years when we were being shaped more by experience than by knowledge. When we stand up to things that we find morally repugnant, the specter of the idealist who inspired the courage looms large in our thoughts and acts. As if the faith and conviction of an older generation finds refuge in the heart and soul of a newer generation. A history of bravery of the father can inspire the son to defy the odds and persevere, if the right lessons have been learned at the right time. It is so strange that things that were argued in life become an integral part of the self in the death of the person spent time arguing with. Had I known better, I could have appreciated him better during life than I am able to do after his death.
In the childhood years, one of the basic lessons in religion, moral, and values highlights the importance of family bondages with emphasis on the relationship between children and their parents. In every religion, the rights and privileges of mother and father are second to none as is the strength of their blessings and prayers for the children. It is quite difficult to explain the sixth or seventh or eighth sense of security and comfort that children continue to have even when our parents are no longer around and may be smiling from the heaven. That nano second arrival for the exams before doors have been closed, that near escape from a fatal accident by that split second decision, that unexpected scholarship from the university you almost had forgotten, that job offer from an application of more than a year when you just lost the current one and it can go on and on – the bottom line is, you can feel that someone from above continues the watchful gaze even when you no longer can watch him any more. Even as our loved one departs to find residence in the Creator’s Kingdom of Infinity, the Almighty gives them the window to continue showering in their love and affection from above. Spirits soar above the earthly confines and souls merge in that horizon where time loses relevance and space becomes undefined.
Sometimes you wonder whether there is any union awaiting as someday you yourself will embark in the same journey at a time and place of the Creator’s choice. You ponder whether these abstract feelings and drifting thoughts are there with any purpose or they are merely the remnants of a bondage that may not outlive your life itself. As your thoughts cruise into the world of imaginations, you seek comfort in the faith that inspires you to believe more and question less. You surrender your perceptions to convictions, you rest your restlessness at the altar of the Ultimate Tranquil. It is a strange feeling of being connected to the one you lost through the common submission to the One who got you two connected in the very first place when seeds of life were sown in that auspicious moment of creation.
The night is growing stronger and the silence is speaking louder as I lose touch with time and purpose. Seems like I might as well be able to spend the rest of the night talking to my father and his neighbors. In this quiet neighborhood, everything appears pristine as the second life resonates the inevitability of the first life. Feels like, the father and son are not that distant after all in this blissful play of life and death where all that differs is the transit and pick up points where each of us ultimately get the ride, some sooner and others later. In this communion of lives, the only certainty seems to be the uncertainty of the fate afterwards. As if, the period of wait is deliberate to give scope for the much needed introspections. Otherwise the rest of our life would be meaningless without pursuit of deeds that we hardly do until it is too late.
As I lose count of the walks and look above in the night sky in search for answers never to be found, the question remains, can this bondage between the father and son transcend the boundaries of both the world to have them united again ? That is one answer only He knows. May He give us the wisdom to ask questions that needs to be answered and to avoid seeking answers to things that never should be questioned in the first place and left peacefully in the lap of faith. Most importantly, may He give us the wisdom to know the difference between the two. Some bonds never cease to grow, they only evolve in new shapes and forms with time as the inner spirit responds to the changing outer dimensions of life and living. May God rest my father and all his neighbors in peace. Let each of us have the strength to take this transit walk blissfully when our time comes. A walk in the graveyard does not seem to be that lonely after all.