Often, I meet young people who are seeking light, seeking happiness and searching for the right place for themselves and their own hopes for the future. I get to see, share and experience their darkness. I get to sit with that. It feels like so counter intuitive to what I have created in my life, more than that it makes me a little impatient with their life, their attitude somehow towards it. But I promise that I know that everyone is doing the best that can, even if they don’t seem to be doing that well at the time. I believe deeply that if I can create happiness in my life, and experience unending joy, and continue to live relentless as if there was no painful past, I know that they can too. There are tools to help us get through and yes, more older we get the more baggage we can create but also more tools open up to us to live a happier, healthier and harmonious life. It is going to get better. It is going to be beautiful and not because we are working on meeting some societal expectation but because we truly have achieved a level of inner success, a level of self-trust and a faith in the self-work that it would take one to get where one wants to be. I want to remind all my young folks, no matter where you are and what you are going through, it is only getting better. It is better already than it could be if you were not seeking this for yourself.
As we move into adulthood from pre-teens, we start to develop a wall of protection around us. This wall develops layer by layer, year by year, like a solid sedimentary rock through many experiences, many negatives and some positives, that we face while growing up. Yeah girls just like to play too, and so do boys. I used to play with my brother a lot. We played chess, ping pong (table tennis or TT as we called it for short), sometimes soccer (futbol), war games (without videogames), hide and seek, cards, ludo, snakes and ladders, dolls, house-house, tag, and so many more…..
One special game with my brother was putting him on a bed sheet and sliding him around the house on the marble floor. It was jolly good fun for him…..and a joy for me to watch him giggle. I had remote controls for him to make him giggle without touching him. Now I cry.
I am an adult. I get a job and make money. I finish school, Bachelors, Masters, learn learn learn, earn earn earn. I strive for titles and positions, so I can get approved by my parents, who disapprove me thoroughly until I bring them much wanted but much scarce social validation. Pride is hard to find in my girl body, unless it is luscious like a Hindi Soap Opera character.
“Murliji/Anitaji – what is your daughter doing these days?”
“She is working on her PhD.”
“That is so nice, she is so smart. Any plans for getting married.”
2011, May: I lost my partner in play, partner in life, but I also realized that he was my partner in soul…yeah he is not lost but I regret it deeply and selfishly.
I lapsed back to 14, with strong desires to play. To find someone to play with, play ping pong, laugh, and share silly things, like dancing hardcore on the dance floor on music ranging from Bollywood to Hollywood, bust a Bhangra move or two or just go crazy silly nuts!! Make plans to prank parents and then celebrate together with more giggles!
I walked around searching for my brother, wanting to play and make him giggle again, and saw him everywhere in all the young people in this world. I made intense connections and felt their angst. Their fight against the world that wants them to be an obedient adult and some who welcome the title of being an adult without knowing how to be one.
They also want to play and I am looking for a partner to play with. But truly, they are also not looking to play. They haven’t lapsed to 14 like I did. They are growing into adult. I am growing into a teen again. It brings great joy to be innocent again, and also heart breaking disappointments pertaining to the adult world.
Two years ago, in May when I heard that my brother went missing first time. I remember clearly that his whole life flashed in front of my eyes. I was at work looking at a computer screen, and my memory of that is that instead of work- I saw his life flash on that screen. A day before this news, in the evening, it was Tuesday and I found myself led to the meditation place in Silver Spring and then eventually stopping to see a psychic. I was hazed and confused, and time seemed to be slow. Later, it was found that he most probably was gone by Tuesday evening, since he was missing since Monday.
I for some reason felt that I knew internally that of the two possibilities, that my brother is alive and that my brother has passed to the other side, the later was probably more true. Somehow with all the signs, my senses told me he had transitioned, and I was settling into this knowingness unwillingly before anyone knew. Some signs of this knowingess were, that time was really slow, I felt like my brain was whirling into a small vortix tornado thought pattern, at one point I felt a really strong pain like experience in the middle of my chest, which is probably the place for heart chakra. It felt like a part of my life force in my heart space leaving me. Imagining a part of my own soul leaving.
When it was finally revealed, that he is gone, major shift happened in the way I saw things literally. It was all slow, vastly spacious and the silence was really loud. It was like the space was this sound, that was only heard in the experience of feeling, it was literally not heard, but the sense of sound was there through feeling and it was loud. It converged into me and from me this sound went out and became louder and louder. Its like I was resonating it/ or with it/ or resounding.
I did not want to accept his passing as a literal passing, and I still am coming to terms with it, yet I feel like I want to believe that his passing is a temporary phase and he could come back. I asked him, if he would come visit us, I really wanted to give him a hug before he transitioned. I do not know why I just asked for that much only. I do not know how, but he did come visit me, he was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. He was looking for water, he needed to drink water. When he came I saw him, I asked for a hug but then I realized that as soon as he gives me a hug he will leave, and he sure did. As he left, I woke up with a really sharp pain in my heart as if a fragment of my soul is leaving my body, yelling, “No! No!”
I was given the task by my mother to put his life story together in pictures for funeral. A tough job to do before seeing his physical body first time in a week of him missing and knowing he has passed. I remember very clearly that it was really late at night, and I felt so strongly, so strongly in my body, this message, when I picked this particular picture to put on, that was how he is, looking away. I felt like it was the message, that he wanted me to remember him like this, when I see his damaged body from the water. He sure was looking away and even though his face and body were all turned green, it was still my brother. My memory of his eyes that were gone, his teeth that were still there, and his beautiful luscious hair that were intact and still full and beautiful, is the memory of seeing him last time before they burnt that body in furnace. No. I didn’t say good bye. I didn’t see him being locked in to the furnace to be burnt. He was too beautiful, too delicate to be burnt. Yet, I felt that, that act made him free, free of that body.
Then when he transitioned like this (may be through my desire I saw this or it was my imagination or truth), later he visited again in my dream and showed me that he was flying and he took me flying really fast over the river in which his physical body was found. He seemed happy about being free. From then on he has visited several times in my dreams, friend’s and parent’s dreams too.
Most recently, he came in my dream and he was back again! I was super confused in this dream and I said what is this, and I think he reminded me that he liked ladoos, and he made me eat one which woke me up from that dream state, which felt so real!! He also comes sometimes in my dream and helps me prepare for real life situations, such as being there for me when I am teaching my class in the dream, most recently. This dream gave me a lot of courage around this class I am teaching. My brother is awesome!! I can feel his presence in my life even though he is gone. He will always live forever young in my memory, and most amazing man I have ever known.
Two years, a deafening silence has become my friend. Its a new visitor in this game. I fill myself with sounds aloud to forget my own name. Your hopes, your desires, your love, your laughter, all fading away into silence. I knew you back then. But you are still with me. I know you and me are friends forever. Only you, I know truly. My brother. Yeah and you would over dose on bananas. I remember. I survive in hopes to see you again someday. It makes my eyes tear up with a little bit of hope, a little bit of hopelessness. You left my heart wide open, for the whole world to fit inside. I am learning to adjust to this after life, that I am not in my afterlife yet.
Yeah, this time I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to remember, I didn’t want to cry.
And then Jake left, passed to the other side.
I know of life. I know of death. I don’t know war and fight. They said so many times, forget about your brother. Move on. I don’t want to hear that I do not have a dark side. I live with it every second of my life. It does not mean I do not have a lot of light. Its blinding, when you look at the sun, remember, even when you sit under a shady tree. Maybe. Its been hard to write anything for you particularly. I wrote a poem for you the other day, I wish you could hear it. How much I love you my little brother. Gosh you would be all grown up and handsome man now. You probably already are, I know so. I do not know why but I have to believe that you are there on the other side living your life. Maybe you are in another dimension, where I died instead and you feel the same sense of separation from your sister that I do here in this dimension.
Its all an experience anyways right?
I do not even know if I have a right to cry. I didn’t die. I am alive. I question crying but I let it. I can’t write anymore, my heart chokes. I want to honor you and your life as much as I can. And through you, I try to honor all the young people I meet, and I try to understand that they too are my own because we all feel lonely sometimes in our lives.
In half an hour here, it will be your birthday. I sit alone in my parent’s house balling my eyes out as I write this.. Is there any justice we can do to your passing away? I use your laptop to write this blog. Everything saved just as you left it, not even the web browsing history removed. I do not look at it again and again, its embedded in my memory. Probably only me knows the depth of your last thoughts before you left but I unable to put it in words. I was the last person to see you before you left but unable to connect with you on a human level. I did thought of it though. I suffer this pain in my destiny. Losing the most beautiful person in my life. No one in our family can understand the depth of things that we saw together. It was just like yesterday you were DJing at my Americorps graduation. Me proud of you and you proud of me.
My brother, we are connected from our hearts together. I hope you are doing well where ever you are. I know I failed you in this life time when you were alive. I attribute it to my gender. Things would have better for you if I was your brother. May be I was in some previous life, or I am in another dimension I do not know. Sometimes I truly wish I was an alien, so people wouldn’t treat me as an alien. But that is what you felt when you were alive whether you were here in the USA or Bharat. You never said, where you feel most home at. I know you felt the most alive at with your cousins and in Bharat when I saw your pictures from your visit. But when we asked you to go back, I do not know what happened.
Losing you has not come without ups and downs, but also with profound understanding that all humanity is a big family indeed. Everyday a sister and a brother is dying because of hate. You were always the reason to live for me, my reason to continue my education and be a good example, to get a job. Silly me, I made up all these things in my head, all these rules. I couldn’t leave you alone, and when I truly did for a short time, you left me alone. I tell you everyone is really cruel. They don’t care if someone dies. They just go on with their life and force you to smile. That is cruelty. We never stop for a minute and think why someone died. We just run from the death freaking out as if we are next. We deny it thinking we are defying it. We lie to the society as to what really happened, and those who do not really care, ask what happened? what happened? I have only one answer You Died for those who do not care. There is no masala. I will be quiet down. Then someone will say oh you should move on, life your life. I am living a life, rather wish I could, if you had not left me alive.
They said we should go into counseling. What will they counsel us on? Betrayal, Misogyny, Years of stress, Disrespect, Economic Downturn, Moving overseas, Adjusting to a new time and culture, Growing up into adulthood, or just general depression?
I think they all need counsel. They grow these monsters. Men and Women that have no regard for life, they forget even breathing is so important to life, they say crappy things to break your spirits. Its hard to believe but truly this great divide between humans, is suicidal itself.
And for some reason, I sense this strange perfume right now…my favorite perfume on you. It makes me feel you are around.
Yesterday, I got those big headphones to use with the iPod. The cushiony one, the bulky one. I have my brother’s iPod. He had a particular enchantment for Lucky Ali’s songs. I haven’t been able to stop listening to the Lucky Ali songs on this iPod since I got this headphone. There is a particular song besides all the songs of Lucky Ali he likes, that I have been listening to over and over again. This song is titled Tu Kaun Hai (translates Who are you?). The song seems to be singing about this life force that pervades all living things. It is presenting this life force as something mysterious, something that we cannot see, yet that remains in our breath.
The video is mixed with shots from a movie about Bhopal Tragedy. Ironically, me and my brother were born in a city near Bhopal and often had our summers in that state. This tragedy happened ion December 2-3, 1984. My brother was born a month later on January 2, 1985. I am sure there is no correlation apparent to this tragedy and my brother’s birth. After his passing away, however, somehow with his interest in music and me listening to it afterwards, particularly this song makes me feel like that there must have been some correlation. My mother in her last month of pregnancy, so much stress in that state due to this tragedy, and the way my brother was born. Bhopal is three hours away from where we were born.
My brother lovingly gave his iPod to me when I had visited Bharat in 2007 to listen to as I revisit the motherland before I take over the oath of allegiance to the USA. After he passed away, I did not know where this prized possession of his was. He would listen to his iPod, day and night, in the car, with these big headphones. That was his thing to do. I feel that there is a really sweet connection of my brother with this device and I found it one day in his bag in his room. I never really became interested in the bulky headphones, until now, when I started listening to his iPod in order to connect with his mindset on music. His taste was so varied with music, very refined and high level, that I still to this day cannot fathom it. I cannot listen to all of what he has on his iPod to hear what he heard. But sometimes music that he really cherished, such as Lucky Ali’s songs, I can listen to. When I listen to his iPod, flashes of him listening to it pass through my memory and it makes me feel like may be he is listening to his music through me. It makes him in many ways Alive again.