Our 43rd Wedding Anniversary
Wednesday, May 10, 2017—10:10 pm EDST—54˚F (12˚C)—Cloudy
Tomorrow, May 11, 2017, is Sumi’s and my 43rd
wedding anniversary. It is a day of celebration. And also a day to reflect upon the journey Sumi and I have taken together.
The first 40 or so years were typical of many married couples. Have a family, raise children, educate them, impart them with family values, and then let them be free to charter their own future—the American dream!
But our journey, for the last four years, has been atypical. Lots of grief, guilt, soul searching, reflecting, and acceptance.
My life now has a clear focus. Sumi has given me purpose. I am learning the true meaning of love and how to practice it daily. I’ve learned to have compassion and maintain equanimity in challenging situations.
With regard to love, the 15th
-century Indian mystic, poet and sage, Kabir, sums it up succinctly in the following couplet:
Pothi Padh Padh Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Aakshar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye
Reading books everyone died, none became any wise
One who reads the word of Love, only becomes wise
With regard to compassion, a Gujarati poet, Aadil Mansuri, has written:
Ful sukai rahyu chhe dal par, gulbadan dal ne halwethi ado!
Flower is wilting on the branch, please touch the branch gingerly!
When Sumi and I enjoy fruit like mangos, oranges, cherries, etc., I taste them first. Sumi gets the sweeter ones and I eat the less sweet ones. This reminds me of the legendary Shabri from Ramayana, an Indian epic about the righteousness of Rama.
The story goes like this: Shabri, a tribal woman, was a great devotee of the deity Rama. One day, Rama and his younger brother, Laxmana, stopped by Shabri’s ashram in their search for Rama’s wife, Sita, who was kidnapped by Ravana. Shabri, overjoyed to see the deities, took them to her hut and brought Rama berries she had collected. Before giving the berries to Rama, Shabri tasted each one, so that Rama would only have the sweetest ones. Laxmana became agitated by this but Rama gently explained to his brother that tasting the berries was an act of love and devotion.
I am Hindu by religion. Like many religions, Hinduism has two aspects—ritualistic and spiritual. Hindus worship many gods and will build shrines in their houses where they keep their gods for daily worship and rituals. In the mornings, they wake their God and bathe the statue of their God as well as decorate it. Then, as a gratitude, they give offerings of food to their God believing that their God will eat some.
I have become more spiritual, rather than ritualistic, but in the mornings I find I do the same rituals. I wake up my Devta (God) to worship. First, I bathe my God, then I dress my God, and finally, I prepare food and offer it to my God.
The difference between my rituals and the rituals of others is my home is my Mandir (my temple; my church). And my Devta (God) is Sumi and my Pooja (worship) is Sumi. And also, Sumi eats my food offerings.
By the way, my God does one thing others’ don’t...I have to clean my Devta after she excretes the food offerings taken from the plate!
To sum this up, I composed the poem below in Hindi to show what I have learned from Sumi. Especially in the last 4 years.
A lot gets lost in the translation; however, it reads something like this:
You have shown me a new path to live my life
A flower is wilting on a branch, you taught me to be good companion to this flower
You have shown me a simple way to read the words of Love
Made is easy for me to untangle and understand my inner soul
Like Shabri, gave me an opportunity to feed you tasted berries
Made my problems easier by your candid smile
Made me realize that you are my temple, worship, and the God
When I hold your tender hands, I experience love, mercy, and compassion
Sumi, you have shown me a new path to live my life!