Monthly Archives: July 2017

Celebrate life

 

In keeping with my blog  ‘ Before or After ‘ , I  wish these lines were written earlier. But its with a sense of gratitude and joy that I write these lines.

My dear cousin Annette has just passed away ….rather, moved on to her final destination. She had battled with cancer. During this time she went through  a wide range of thoughts, questions, and moments of despair. She was always faithfilled in life, and sought the Lord with great devotion. But her sense of abandonment surfaced towards the end , and as mentioned by the priest in his homily, this is a sign of holiness, which even Mother Teresa experienced much of her life…..why Jesus Christ Himself cried out  while on the cross,‘ My Lord, my Lord , why has Thou forsaken me?

But thereafter, at the funeral service, the unexpected happened. This became a celebration of life. Annette was remembered by the way she had touched the life of her own family, and so many others. I was amazed to see the crowded church and packed cemetery. Her daughter Erica recounted with such joy, her mother’s faith; this with 3 specific miracles, before Erica’s birth. Though doctors had expressed grave concerns, during this time, eventually a healthy baby was born.  Erica wore red….to express her joy for her mother. Her son Vernon, requested all in the church not to mourn and express condolences, but to celebrate with joy.  Raul ( her daughter Sharon’s husband) recollected interesting discussions on faith, which moved him to an even more deeper trust in the Lord.This is  what Annette wished. And when we returned to her home, SEAN’S NEST, we saw the dining table laden with the goodies that Annette always served us on our many previous visits. Her husband Sergio accepted all this with a spirit of calm and quietness.

The moments of prayer and quietness over, we  shared the joys of happy memories. As a mother she was concerned, caring and watchful over her brood of 3 children. In an interesting incident , we heard how she once gave a surprise visit to a pub/disco , to check on her son who was one of the leading disc jockeys in Goa. She entered with the determination of a mother on mission, and guess what…..she saw her son at work…. Puffing away, cigarette In hand ….I do not know the aftermath of this incident…..its best left to one’s imagination.

Annette was one of my closest cousins, more like a sister, when I was young. After all, I had 4 brothers and no sisters. Even when I had started off with my own family, she would always make us so welcome on our visits to Goa.

During this most recent stage of her life, she became a whatsapp friendly person. These were times when we exchanged some very interesting , humorous and encouraging notes. I was privileged to see her until April 2017 , when most people were not being allowed to visit her. After this for the next few months , her whatsapp messages stopped and only Erica shared messages on her health conditions. Occassionaly I sent some scripture verses and prayers, to be voiced to Annette.

On the Sunday morning of 23rd July 2017, during my quiet time, the Lord moved me to read Wisdom 3:1-7a, 9  I quote:

‘ But the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,

no torment shall ever touch them.

In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,

their going  looked like a disaster,

their leaving us, like annihilation;

but they are in peace.

If they experienced punishment as men see it,

their hope was rich with immortality;

slight was their affliction, great will their blessing be.

God has put them to the test

and proved them worthy to be with him;

he has tested them like gold in a furnace,

and accepted them as a holocaust.

When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out;

they who trust in him will understand the truth,

those who are faithful will live with him in love;

for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.’

I Immediately shared this Word with Erica, and that same evening Annette passed away.

My last view of Annette was at the end of the church service; but strangely I also saw at the far side of the church,  the picture of the 13th station of the cross, depicting  Jesus’ body being taken down from the cross…

It was not the end, as we all know; in the resurrection….there is a new life…. beyond….

Where mourning turns to dancing, and every tear is wiped away.

May you experience rest in Christ, and eternal joy, Annette.

The Train……of Thought

 

The quiet of day

And the distant hoot

Of a train hurrying

To its end;

Sets  my thoughts

Of past holidays

With family

 

The city disappears

In the dark of night

Save the twinkling of

Its  lights.

The thrill of brothers

Excited at the trip

Tease to irritate.

 

Dawn breaks next day

With the chug of the

Steam engine

Sleek in shape;

Smoke in your eyes

Tears streaming away

 

Cotton fields whiz past

But where are they now?

 

My  Train

Of thought streams

Into the present

Faster and longer

Running out of steam

Into the electric age

 

More cities

Less country

I see the signs  to

Save the environment

And then

back to the future

 

Are you with me

On this train

Of thought ?

Travel back -A Peek at the Past

 

As I view the drumstick tree basking in the morning sun with its green sticks at  different stages of growth, It brings back warm memories of my childhood.

We had a little garden around our city home and there was  a drumstick tree in the neighbouring plot.

Somehow just seeing its tiny leaves and white flowers made me happy. We also had numerous such trees at our holiday home in  Borivili  , where mango trees were in abundance along with Jambul, banana and tamarind trees.

I look back and treasure those memories with family.

The journey by car was considered quite long. So in our family of seven, two of my older brothers would travel by the suburban train and the rest of us by car. I thought that the train travelers were very adventurous and envied them.

The fresh air on arrival at this holiday home revived us, and also brought on a drowsy and relaxed atmosphere when we settled in.

The deep well with a pulley system attracted us  and we eagerly took turns to draw water from it   which was quite a novelty for us city folks. Oh yes, the water was so good that the tea prepared from it had a delectable taste.

Have you sat on the branches of a mango tree and ate some of them ….we had a way of eating those we called sucking mangoes, from the end where it had the stem attached. So when you finished getting out the juice, you threw the skin and the seed away…

Our quaint bungalow had a first story with a balcony facing a creek. Wow, that was an experience, just to sit out and stretch our little legs to touch the railings and enjoy the sea breeze. With a dell comic book in hand , we enjoyed reading about the Road runners, Donald Duck , Micky Mouse, Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger, Superman, Sad Sack etc.

Since I was about 8 years old, I was not allowed to read Archies comics, which was for my older siblings…so having  a peek at it gave me a thrill.

Then the May flower tree had its own charm. We would try to grab one of its long flat ‘chickchicks’ because of its sound and sing along with that accompaniment.

We had a hill at the boundary of this property. It gave us opportunities to trek and get the feel of climbing a mountain . A vivid memory comes back of a skit performed extempore on that slope. i.e Red Riding Hood with the wolf .  I remember the wolf had a rope as a tail…which made us laugh.

Water was always scarce in the summer, inspite of our own  well water . So we would eagerly wait for the bullock cart drawn  carrier, which provided water at a price.

In those days , construction of neighbouring buildings had started. We would hear the blast of rock to level certain areas of the hill, which caused us great distress. We trembled with fear in anticipation of the next blast.

I cherish those memories with my parents and brothers. Even my grand uncle accompanied us on  these trips.

Beer was for the grownups; but I remember Dad giving me a sip….it tasted so good, that when I sip a beer today, it does bring back some of those memories.

Dad would meet the villagers and be updated on the events going on.

Today the landscape at Borivili has changed completely .

However the former landscape lives on in memory; who can change that?

So if ever you look back, take the liberty of visiting those beautiful times once again ….who knows it may help you to live today with a more joyful attitude.  Besides you can travel to those times and places without any travel plans. May it bring back more cheer into your life.