September 09, 2008

Searching for Peace

Respite in a busy month. One long weekend, the only one for many weeks arrived. I went with my friend to her grandma's place in a tiny, tiny village in the mountains. The house was small but filled with a lot of love. The place has all these people who work in coffee estates and tea plantations. A simple and happy life. Not famous. Nor rich. Nor beautiful. Not even very intelligent. But happy. How I wish I had that. One sad thing we found out was that Vasanthamma was dead. Who was she? A maid who worked in the house of this rich man who owned huge amounts of land. She grew old in his house and fell sick. He put her in a stuffy small room a little distance from his mansion and left her to die. I went to this village a few months ago with my friend during another long weekend, and her granddad took us to see Vasanthamma. The room stank from about ten feet away. She lay on her bed at a weird angle, covered by a skimpy blanket even though there was no fan to cool her. Her daughter whispered that no one could move her as her bones were broken in several places. No one? Oh please. They have stretchers these days and ambulances and things. I remained silent. I was just a stranger her with no connection to this dying woman and no rights. Her eyes were cloudy, filled with muted pain. They expressed intense gratitude as she answered in gasping breaths questions about how well she was feeling. Even though she knew saying she was ok was a lie. We all knew it. Mercifully she died a few weeks after we saw her. When I looked at everything around me in that humble place, I felt the simplicity so much I choked. Birth and death. Work and weariness. Festivals and gaiety. I want the peace that comes from the routine, everyday mundane things. I want that peace so badly.

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