Yet Untitled 051 - What I’d ask of those who are gone…
…but continue to influence me from the beyond nonetheless!
Something very surprising happened the other day.
My neighbour - his name is Yash - was leaving for work. His mother was seeing him off. My apartment door was open. I called out to him:
Good morning Yashy!
His mom smiled and said “oh, his father used to say exactly this when he saw Yash first thing in the morning. He’d say Good Morning Yashy when he saw Yash going off to work.”
The thing is - I had never called him Yashy before!
There’s another thing - 5 years ago, when Yash’s father - Murli uncle - had died suddenly (tragically taken by a stroke in the night), Vani, our friend Sandeep and I had been the first responders. We had taken Murli uncle’s body to the hospital and had met Yash when he arrived there, giving him whatever comfort we could.
From the next day on, I started keeping Murli uncle in my prayers. Buddhism believes in life’s continuity and death as a necessary dormancy before life continues rather than an end. There’s a very specific part of my daily Buddhist practice where I offer prayers for those I have lost. Typically, one prays for a freshly departed soul for forty days, and this was my intention towards Murli uncle, to usher him forward. Forty days sounded like a long enough time for him to find his feet in his new demainfested state.
But, with Murli uncle, I did not stop after forty days; I have kept him in my prayers all this time - five years and counting. And then, five years after his death, without any prior knowledge, I ended up using his nickname for Yash in the exact way he would use it - as if it was the most natural thing.
Now, how about that..!
Needless to say, my prayers had more conviction behind them from thereon. I felt very happy to be of service to Murli uncle. I know that Yash misses him very much and I hope that hearing “Good Morning Yashy” as he left for work made him reconnect with Murli uncle in some way.
This incident did get me thinking though. Murli uncle isn’t the only deceased person who’s been in my prayers for a long time! I wondered - is going to be some sort of trend? I wondered: If those who have passed will continue making use of me via the bridge of prayer between us - what would I ask of them?
I can almost hear them thinking - with this guy, looks like there are no free lunches, even in the afterlife!
Thanks for reading “Yet Untitled”! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
A man with a fantastic, photographic memory, my maternal grandfather - Nanaji - famously rattled out the active dates of all the British Viceroys to India while walking with me through a portrait gallery in Lucknow.
I’d love for him to pop into my head when I can’t remember someone’s name when I meet them, something that happens very frequently. All little help there please, Nanaji.
Nanima, my maternal grandmother, had the most comfortable lap to rest a head upon. I’d like that comfort back in my life in some way. I know this is a big ask, but I’m hopeful that it might be possible, having felt my paternal grandma’s - Dadima’s - touch through my Yoga teacher - Mangala Ji’s - hands.
I wrote about this in YU 44:
Madhu Dad - my father in law and second father - loved music in every respect. He started learning Indian classical music some years before he died. He was so fond of singing, listening and appreciating music, that it really felt like death cut his musical journey short.
I took up the Ukulele during the pandemic. I learned about six chords and could, by the end, play about eight songs. It gave me copious amounts of pleasure. But, I stopped.
Madhu Dad, would you continue your musical journey via me please? I’m sure you’d love the Ukulele. Get me to pick that damn thing up again!
Krishna Ponnusamy - my uncle - had tremendous patience with kids; with me. We had some great times together, including attending a Carnatic whistling concert at the India International Centre in the 80s.
I’m patient with Ananya and Aahana but I have my moments when I lose the plot and become one of those rabid, disciplinarian dads.
Krishna masa, the next time A and A threaten to drive me to spontaneous internal combustion, please intervene with your Mauritian humour, your Creole accent and inflect the moment towards laughter as you always did.
Kiran Nagarkar was responsible, in so many ways, for my becoming a writer. There are a million reasons why he got more than 40 days of my prayers. He’s at work, frequently coming in through the little window between our worlds, infusing me with his infectious excitement that he felt whenever he read or watched something worthwhile.
Kiran uncle. Do not stop. In a world where there are a million reasons not to feel, I stand with you and feel the power that a few words strung together in a sentence can do.
Pops, the simplest things made you happy. Dad, whenever I find myself linking my happiness to complicated things, please remind me there there is another way to be. The way that I watched you be all my life.
My paternal grandfather - Dadaji - was always immaculately dressed. These days, I’ve started existing more and more in black t-shirts and cotton pants with little variation. My work allows it, but there is one side of me that enjoys being well turned out, like he did too.
Vani seems to be colluding with you, Dadaji. She doesn’t let me out of the house if my clothes aren’t ironed properly. Keep working on me via her. It’s all for the best!
Thanks for listening!
I’ll leave you with the same question:
If you could ask one of your beloved departeds one thing, which they could reach out from the beyond and influence in your life right now, what would it be?
Tell me. I want to know!
Do comment or write back. I’d love to hear from you.
Also, so share this newsletter with anyone you think would get a kick out of reading it.
Lots of love