34. Late Shadows

I never knew that Subarata was really ill, nor did she, till late on that year 2000 trip to Brazil. In her last year before that fateful Christmas Trip of discovery, she would often feel strangely tired and some afternoons would sit on the floor against the wall in our living area, wrapping around herself a favourite blue blanket that featured seascapes and joyful leaping dolphins. I would often sit beside her and put my arm around her – we would sit in silence in the quiet afternoon. There was a somberness about it all, whether through some foreknowledge of what was to come, a premonition, or because the existential seeps through these hours of doing nothing, of just sitting, like evening shadows stealing in, and you begin to feel the underlying and troubling mystery of human life, its brevity and chaos, its impermanence and randomness, the randomness of the falling sword.

The world outside seemed faint and faraway – a passing plane, sirens, the murmur of life – but what was strong was that anxious concern and tenderness of the heart that humans have after many shared years together. Guru wanted Subarata to be childlike and devoted and happy, and made me feel that I should always remember this.

I will always remember her sitting against the wall with her blue blanket, her closed, tired eyes, the leaping dolphins, the afternoon silences that deepened and changed our lives.