It was under the blue sky, yes, the same blue sky that roofs yourself and myself, the blue sky under which we have spent so many happy hours unmindful of its very existence, it was right under the blue sky that I got your message written on the peepal leaf scroll.
I was in the brown walled courtyard opening up to the sky, and I found your scroll when the wind put it into my arms. What I was doing there, why I was given the scroll, how I knew it was from you, I cannot say. I am describing a dream, you know. Like it is the way with all the dreams and the nightmares, the details are tweezed out with almost a cruel perfection, leaving only a blur at the edges. And the blur is perhaps the only reason that the essence is embossed upon the memory, and haunts the living daylights out of one. Which is why I attempt to capture the essence in the poorly shaped container of words…like trying to trap a gas in a liquid.
The peepal leaves I held in my hand were brown, fading, but almost perfect in its state of preservation. As if they had been curled and born on the bark and died and withered and windswept into your arms, just to bear this message you had to write to me. Stitched on one end, the broad upper curves. Stitched neatly too. You never told me you could stitch? But then there is so much more that you never told me. Not that I ever asked, of course. It was an original idea, I agree, making scrolls out of peepal leaves. You know I like leaves and trees and earth and soil and such abstractions. Was it why you had chosen to write that last message of farewell on leaves and give it to me? So that when the leaves fade, my memory of you would fade too? Or when the leaves wither into the everything-ness (as opposed to nothingness) of the earth as we know it, my memory of you would also move, expand and fill the earth with itself? So that there would be no memories left with me, I would bequeath them to everything and everywhere?
Don’t make me laugh, please, I am trying hard to cry over you. When the Sun torments the Earth, it is best that the Rain comes in to quench the pain. For whatever I may say about the nature of things being such and such, it is the Sun’s nature to burn merrily, and the Earth’s to bear with patience and fortitude, that there is peace in that, I am afraid that we may be taking things too far. Even the sharp reality of the dream only succeeded in making my heart, yes, Heart, heavy, heavier than I have ever known, but I could not weep and grieve, either for you or for me. Your calm denouncement of your Death, the suicide of our ‘I’, my sense of having ‘lost’ you, only gives me a profound sense of Destiny, of heavy rivers swelling and taking their course, bypassing the long roots from the wayside trees dipping into it, drinking from it. Not a thought does the river spare for the bystanders!
But then why does your water sweep the leaves off my arms and take them downstream to show them the salty oceans and the sunsets there? Is it on one of these leaves that you write your message of farewell and send them over, from wherever it is that you are? So that it is a double punch…one message of eternal farewell with the words in the letter, and another in the leaf, my leaf that bears the message, now returned to me? So that I cannot even deceive myself any further with illusions of you having them as a keepsake?
You know me. You know that I cannot dream of denying you the right to your Life, the right to a lack of it, if only you wish it. You also know that you cannot deny me a right to mine. Whatever interaction we have had, whatever relationship we share, whatever prompted you to write a message of ‘farewell’ to me because you have gone away, forever, is all based on this unspoken fundamental. With such an understanding, what is the meaning of the lines you write to me, on the back of a peepal leaf? What farewell are you referring to? I know that you always fare me well, but must you underscore that in red ink on the back of a peepal leaf and let it flutter across the courtyard, under our blue sky, just because your Life as you know it is lost to you? Are you telling me, trying to tell me, that is, that you are forever lost to me and I to you, just because you are dead? Don’t I still have you, here, with me, now and forever, whether you live or die or hang between heaven and earth?
I do. And now, now, I realize what the farewell was all about. Maybe it was not that you were bidding farewell to me at all. You are just taking leave of that part of you that you have left behind in me. And when I let this peepal leaf flutter back with the wind, telling Him to take it where it wills, I am saying goodbye too, another goodbye, to the part of me that shall forever be yours. We are characterized by the losses we have suffered, only my loss is not you, it is myself. And with that loss, that goodbye, I welcome a new Me in me. The Me with the permanent citizen, You. Welcome, friend.