I have returned to the quaint little town of Kalady after two and a half years. This is where my mother leads a modest, non-descript life at a senior citizens’ home. This is where I used to come often to absorb uplifting vibes from the vedas echoing in its temple halls. It is here, on the lazy banks of the Kalady river, that I wrote most of the rain and river ditties included in my book of verse, ‘Hymns from the heart’. And it was here that I lost my father. It was here that I broke into shards and lost my bearings in October 2016.
It is hard to believe that I could have stayed estranged with a place I was so smitten with for so long. But that’s what grief does. It makes you a stranger to your deepest loves and clouds your brightest sunshine. It makes you think that the world has no woe that compares to your pain. It makes you a frosted lump that refuses to thaw and be human again.
29 months. I think of how much has happened in the interim in this sacred town. It has been through its own share of maladies and misfortunes.
As I dipped my feet in the quiet waters of the river yesterday and crossed the shadow of the Sankara Stupa in Kalady town today, I looked for signs of the deluge that drowned homes and disrupted lives only a few months ago.
The river had no remains of the rage that it vented so dangerously last monsoon. Nothing that pointed at the ravage of a hundred years. The streets too had reclaimed their rightful place in the town’s rustic map, and life had shrugged the trauma off and regained its old tenor.
Talk to its people, and they recount the harrowing details of their nightmare. But they do it as if its shadows have long since retreated and life has moved on.Their resilience becomes apparent when they sign off by saying, ‘It was bad. But we are glad to have survived. We lost everything, but we are alive. And that is enough.’
As I write this note sitting by the banks of Poorna river this evening, with the sun calling it a day and sinking into its Arabian Sea jacuzzi, I reflect on the different tragedies that befall humans (and places) and I marvel at how wired we are to eventually heal and emerge from our rock bottoms.
In a snap, I become aware of this vast capacity to cure ourselves. A place that I avoided for so long for the pain it gave me has today become my palliative with its own story of revival and restoration. In it I find lessons of survival. Somewhere behind me, the soothing strains of a philosophy that I hold close to my heart emanate from the precincts of the temple that resides the adi Guru. ADVAITA. This doctrine of the undivided Self is what I will take back with me again, like I did many times in the past before my connection with this place became dysfunctional for a brief period in time.