He was real, I was young enough to love him for what he was, a real sea creature in the early waves, Bay of Bengal. Through the years, he has followed me, city after city, lane after lane, along with a certain “Harrison” Aussy Life Saver/priest who took me to the Shoulder of a wave. The two become one in a world of creative fiction, where the real story is one about Trusting the One Whose Shoulder we may lean on with the heart of a child. Do check preview attached👇🏼
We have had tea together a thousand times in these cane chairs facing her curry leaf tree and windows hung with old silk curtains.
Sia is a good woman with friends and folks who love her; why wouldn’t they, she is not just strikingly entertaining, she is one of the loveliest persons I have ever met. Dark long classic almond eyes in a determined oval shaped face set in wheat gold skin you want to paint! ( I’ve tried painting Sia and will try again; she is a hundred stories and I must wait to capture all their colours, oh she’s generous with comment and has booked a canvas from my battered easel). I was saying though, beneath that nice surface is soft steel, easier to break than I suspected possible.
“I should not insist on being loved by my only sibling, but uhm, who said blood is thicker than anything else? It is a liquid and it can dry up like a forgotten river.”
Sia talks that way between better days, so I’m not all surprised, and yet today the moment simmers like her eyes: they brim with aloneness.
“One should know they are not needed or loved anymore, but I still hang on, I follow my sister, I wait for her to come home, I remember our childhood too much, now…it changes? Because...?”
I have not one nice warm thing to say. Her gold lemon tea with mint leaf waits in white ceramic; I cannot breathe, her hurt has to ebb. It doesn’t.
“..is alright,” she continues as if she heard me. “Let’s have that mint from my herbal pot, hehe!”
Just when I was settling into her sorrow she turns into the rising sun.
“You know, Ray. I do not feel bitter anymore?! They do not want me, that is fine. We fight for those we need to keep. Once that is not there anymore, what is the fight? How is the painting coming up?“
“What painting?!” I ask without thinking and her face blows up in laughter. Without warning, Sia Mayben is a skyful of crackers!
“This is what I love best about you, girl. You are not picking problems, you do not care, you walk in a Light that is not the sun.”
“…and there’s a God and He loves you, loves me. My entire life I hate Him, but He never leaves. Never. Nah….Yem! ” She says that for ‘yes’ occasionally, it’s her unusual upbringing; I will never know where she totally grew up in. She sounds like ghettos sometimes- raw, dismembered, and then she is a fountain of healing.
Today for some reason I’m the cause of her healing? I said / did nothing, but the woman isn’t listening. At 80+ she’s earned that right. She talks about her dead sis like she’s there in the next room, then she turns into the Psalmist.
I promise to finish her painting as soons I get more time between comforting Kitsy our second daughter whose Crayfish ate up her beloved Molly– I didn’t dare tell her ‘I told you so’,
Oh but I did tell her,
that, and our youngest fantastic blind 21 year old declaring hatred for his walking cane-
yes, must paint Sia. She is the color of an earth poised to smile: the blood in her runs deep as a river that never forgets. Did her sister really not love her? I’ll never know – Alzheimer’s is a deadly treasure trove.
Though, it makes Sia all the more a mystery to peer through – at a world aching for rest.
“Blood doesn’t matter …” Is a sentence laced heavy with truth. I know at least 2 adopted human beings whose love is not enarmoured by genetics.
Weaving my way back home between Bipolar auto rickshaws and pre- monsoon showers pelting the sidewalk, I can’t help feeling Sia’s feelings. Yem. There’s more that matters, than just blood.
God knew. That the sea would rinse things I didn’t know were there: an aloneness that comes with a trial, He brought it all out and rebuked it, His sea salt burned it away, hehe!
Mountain forest trail, thru Kudremukh mist & heavy close foliage. It was another world- heady, strong scents of wood moistened with dew; local springs in moss. Am still speechless. Utterly. Like God took my heart and laid fresh terms in there. The Light fell thick unsplintered and very very close, with His Presence. You couldn’t take it for granted. It had It’s own pulse, you needed to listen, to the song of that- to His Breath breathing deep. Something dead in me rose. Unsure what it was- something essential to human existence. His finger deep in my spirit, healing a bruise. Now I know why God called Moses to the mountain. He was afraid of it, like I was, shivering at its sheer cliff. It is a thing to overcome, a fear to face, even master. Here he met His true spirit Father. Here, a challenge was given, here a deal was made to live again against all odds.
Family wedding at Coorg.
The bird was there waiting, asking to be noticed. I stood staring at him against that blue sky and early moon all stark naked Reminders that Life went beyond gravity!
Ramona was buried yesterday;
her husband and two sons stood tall by her grave: on Zoom it was surreal. A Mumbai cemetery rich with songs we sang as kids, about the Risen Savior, & oh where was death’s sting?! Ramona’s warm brown eyes and soft skin seemed closer, her easy laughter, subtle jewellry and gentle lip gloss mouthing words of love for Christ. We hadn’t met in years: but her passing brings me closer to the Reality of what the Cross does for us, 24x7xn! I’m feeling many Seasons in one, but especially Summer: warm like the embrace of the Father in a Time of fear, His Gospel of Peace.
Death is demanding.
It is not silent. It is an open conversation with what opposes Peace. It breaks us, it seals us to the ‘Unknown’. And we can turn our faces to all our walls all we want, but nothing buries Life. Love. Joy. The invisible presence of That. Of turning away from sin. Of repenting, and letting us be re- created in Christ. That Peace with God in Christ, is Peace.
One of the last times I met Ramona we were at a beach; it was dusk on a busy shore. I don’t remember that we spoke many words, but what she and I utterly had in common was Christ:
the Christ Who found us in different rooms, in different differences, bridging barriers, crashing statements, limits.
How does one describe a place where Gravity does not exist, where Peace is no longer just a temporary Live-in partnership;
how do I bare my heart, except say it like it is:
The Cross doesn’t crucify me, it BARES MY SIN, THEN bears IT. The Cross shuts up satan: his War against our absolute eternal fulfillmenT.
OUR PEACE! THIS IS THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.
The mark of Christ is nothing like the beasts’:
Christ freeing you & me from short term satisfactions: Quick Fixes, begging for more. Not just blank-eyed druggies’, but Humanity altered by self abuse, by others’.
I was once confronted by a Nun(school principal) on why I followed Christ. You did not mess with Mother Grace, and as she looked in my face for a reply I said what had happened. “No one else came here looking for me…. “
Eternity pursues me, there’s a Name on It. Christ’s. There’s a Heaven even among us when we reflect True Love. And there’s a Hell horrific and more as the ones we rehearse on earth: of the worship of cravings. Every Dance, is arms reaching for the Invisible Partnership we know deep within, exists.
When I was carrying our first child, this horrific incident with the vegetable cart man happened:
one morning he was in the ground under the row of eucalyptus trees, writhing like a snake, a death rattle sound in his throat, it filled the entire noon; the man’s white shirt and pants, always spotless but not on that day. My mother asked me not to look. An expectant mother best not see such things, she said. But this was Ramu our friendly veggie man. They were getting someone to exorcise him, and it took till past 4 pm; a week later I met Ramu, now he was half his size.
Evil itself reveals the very presence of God, not one appeased by sacrifices. He is Light (we are all yet to be able to even look at Its lesser form: the sun):
He Who is Love, of Peace, Joy: three things satan cannot stand, leave alone claiming our Place by the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. Try it.
the incredible Power of Doubt: it can derail us totally.
Why consume the deadly whispers of satan when we have Christ’s Words that can do ALL for us? If we only knew the extent of This here.
Eternity is Real, and I am encouraged today to make it a huge part of my daily schedule. Yea Ramona, death has no sting, the grave no victory.
Christ took that.
With Him it is Eternal DaySpring.
Thankyou Kate Motaung for triggering a revisit to my 7 year old self, in a place I loved and was terrified of: the Sea. Here I got something I’ll never let go of: how to ride a giant wave!
Age 7 is a tricky sweet dangerous age to utterly trust a stranger, in a spot like that, deep sea. Those waves weren’t called Breakers for nothing. But Bro. Harrison (name unchanged*) was the kind of human any family would trust.
This was the Bay of Bengal, summer. He was an Australian lumbering red raw sunburnt priest on vacation from a Boys’ school in Darjeeling; he was dear and kind and sweet. Would take endless pictures of us, and himself, all black and white. He’d send us statutes and post cards from Italy and wherever he went. Summers were in our little coastal tourist village; he loved Indian fish fries, and Dad’s laughter in our veranda overlooking the sea. Then he’d hoist me over his shoulder to the beach. Ofcourse I trusted him, and he proved his worth in sand and mid sea, even with a six footer wave crest crackly overhead, spiffing white crystal fire in the gold sun.
I was afraid;
the Sea was a scary beautiful friend. She’d sweep out her large green blue skirts at my toes then swing them back in to herself, tempting me to go in deeper. I’d run in for shells, then fly back out again at another wave that chased me right to the edge of our hard flat beach, up the massive sand bund to where our compound wall overlooked a panoramic 180 degrees of this terrific watery Friend.
Brother H. as we called him, (he refused to be called uncle, flouting all nice Indian courtesy to senior relative), said it made him feel older than his 50, and that he was a child inside. He was. He was also a sort of Angel, no trace of guile or meanness, only the joy of living life to the full.
“Come on, old lady!” He’d yell over our mulling muttering crash- echoing Bay. He was a certified Life Saver, I didn’t understand that but it made me feel important, and saved somehow from the churling tide, its rush and fervor, its lunging, pulling, eddy and mega swill.
B. H. would ask me to hold on to the tube and trust him as we paddled deeper in to where waves began.
The idea was to go through that startling blue water wall before it crashed- then ride its crest all the way ashore.
It was the most somersaulty crazy thing I’ve experienced or ever will. If I’d known how to swim, it would’ve not been as dangerous. Here I had to trust Bro. H., I had to go where he said, hold tight no matter my nose and face were smashed in that coaster, no matter I was in a sand-&-water rollercoaster, ears and brain thounding (yeah, you’d get new words) with the crash of tide in maddened swell.
The sound it still startles me but not as much as the glory of re-surfacing in great gulp of air, Bro.H’s laughing grey blue eyes, his lung full of a whoop shout, as we settled in the shoulder of yet another giant wave as she rode us all the way back to shore….
where sometimes dad or ma waited, wondering that I needed this.
Years down, I’ve relived that time there, over and over. It’s one empowered way to ride a risky wave like that – in the sea, or in Life elsewhere: surprise that Thing that’s coming at us, go through It holding on to the Hand that holds you & me better than we could hold ourselves, then break free as the Breath of God kicks in Life in our frame,
ride that Wave for the sheer joy of knowing that’s why there are Waves and Oceans, Sands and Seas in the stories of our lives.
Thankyou Kate M. & Storytellers, and all of Blog world for reminding me; I’m feeling 7 years old, at sea with the Hand that holds all.
*years down, I searched Facebook for him, we’d shifted cities and we’d lost touch. He wasn’t the kind to stop writing or telling us where he was, but he did. I suspected the worst; and found his smiling black and white profiles in a FB page dedicated to him by people who knew him, as we did too. Bro H. was/ is one if the most magnificent human beings ever created: he taught this 7 year old to walk on high walls, chase sand crab, find sea horse, race waves, love sea boats, love life no matter where….