In David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’, there was a line that comes back to me time and time again. It said, our lives are not own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.
How true is this. We are connected by invisible threads, forged over the course of days, months and years, and secured by bonds of community. We depend on each other, we rely on each other. Especially here in India, each small tradition and custom is inherently societal. It is based on the fact that it will bring us closer to our culture in some way. Every small action, from a prayer to a chant, to fasting, or to coming to grieve at the time of death; every one of these actions binds us to each other, our lives become inextricably linked.
I have seen so much love in the last few days. I have seen people come home and mourn for the loss of my mother in law in ways I did not know was possible. I have seen my family depend on each other physically, mentally, morally and emotionally in ways I did not know were possible. I have seen the young teach us about life and the old teach us about death. I have seen a holiness that can only be achieved through a kind of mutual dependency and respect.
Yesterday I walked into my father in law’s room and saw my man helping his father put on his shirt. No words were spoken, but so much was said in the quiet act of helping a loved one in the most mundane of gestures, at a time when their hearts were too broken to carry on. The wife and the mother ain’t coming back to them again. But they have each other. And for now this is enough.