Retrospect

I first met Subarata in the mid-1970s in New Zealand, our two lives intersecting in what seemed a chance occurrence in a very random, fortuitous universe.

There is a song I like called “Beautiful Collision” by a popular New Zealand musician who describes these everyday, arbitrary intersections of lives, the chance encounters, the endless possibilities of life weaving and colliding all around us. The song reminds us of how the little moments of impulse or choice shape our endless tomorrows. If we had lingered here a little longer, started that conversation, said “yes” instead of “no,” perhaps “no” instead of “yes,” taken a chance, placed a bet, passed through that door, smiled in response, made the hard choice… it might all have turned out differently. Subarata was one of the beautiful and fateful collisions that did occur in my life.

She had blue sky in her eyes and questing in her heart, a little wildness in her. I saw that Subarata was a nomad, a wanderer, that we shared the same journey – I knew I had met a kindred spirit. In a shoulder bag she carried Lao Tzu’s mystic teachings, the Tao Te Ching – she had underlined things, words and phrases, grasping at the heart of the book and devouring its wisdom hungrily. She was responding to the same things as I was, searching for her way forward, stumbling through the maze.

There are probably thousands of people out there in this world with whom we share deep similarities of interest and temperament, inner connections and spiritual kinship, people who could have filled our whole lives in the other endless possibilities of existence, the beautiful collisions that might have taken place. Mostly, we never get to know them – but we see them in our meditation classes, meet them on journeys, pass them in any street, our unknown family within the larger human race. Subarata was one of those that I actually met.

Most of those bygone years together have been forgotten, their occasional recollections coming from a faraway time like the light from a very distant star. Yet I do recall how in a moment of absolute inconsequence, one day we married in a registry office in a tiny village, a necessity if Subarata were to return to or stay in New Zealand. Unseen by us, the simple act of scribbling our careless signatures on a piece of paper heralded a deeper commitment. It was a postscript from some past, the prelude to some future, both a consequence and a beginning in a much greater fabric of time. We were setting forth together on a much greater journey than all of our wanderings of the earth, yet the journey’s beginnings, we felt, lay elsewhere in a faraway time.

We did not bother telling anyone of this formality – it meant nothing to us. Only years later, when the two of us were driving with my parents to a faraway town, I turned to my mother and said, “By the way, did I ever tell you we are married?” My mother, Anne, was astonished, then a little rueful we had not told her earlier. But then she laughed and turned to Subarata the nomad, the gypsy, with a great smile, hugged her and said, “You are a brave girl to marry my son, and I love you for it!”