150th recipient of help (a livelihood bicycle):
“And the last stage for us in their onward journey is ‘detachment’; when we sail the last boat leaving the harbor of life on the waters of the Ganges. The final frontier it is.”
Kishorilal Nirmal (45 plus)
Dhobi (laundry service)
Kishorilal is from UP. Most dhobis I have come across are from there. He lives at Parsi Dhobi Ghat, Tardeo.
I met Kishorilal one early morning when I was riding past Girgaum Jain Temple. His bicycle was in a dilapidated state, so I slowed down to ride alongside and chat. His bicycle was 11 years old. I offered to buy him a new one, if he were willing to contribute half its cost. He agreed.
Kishorilal reverted to me after saving nearly half the amount that was needed to buy a new bicycle. After a year almost.
That, is how long it can take some people. To collect just Rs 2500-3000.
Both his parents passed away, his father first, when Kishorlilal was in the twelfth standard. He could not study any further. He had to quickly begin earning a livelihood for his family, his brother and mother.
He was used to working from a very young age. Even when he was in school, post school hours he would work as a daily wages agriculture worker, in the fields belonging to others.
Kishorilal’s greatest challenge so far is from his childhood years. The expenses they had to bear post the death of his father. On the last rites and rituals. They had to borrow money from their relatives.
Their relatives also provided them the Ghee that is needed during the funeral, as he could not afford it.
Ghee! So dear and almost impossible for nearly 300 million people in India.
And for peeps like a few of us, ever since I became conscious of my food intake, I have often dabbed the ghee off Jalebis, Puris and Parathas with highly absorbent tissues, and thrown the Ghee soaked tissue in the dustbin. And reprimanded my dear and fantastic cook not to use so much!
A man may not be able to eat Ghee. Nor offer a teaspoon to his family to just take a whiff of, in his lifetime. Yet, on his death, rituals and traditions, and sometimes relatives compel them to say their last goodbye with revered and precious Ghee.
It took me back to the funerals of my loved ones. My parents.
They were moments of my own first realization of the many rituals are associated with a loved one’s last rites. They can overwhelm you.
It made me realize the three most significant elements that a departed soul makes contact with are, water, fire and wood. In that order.
Most often, the very first contact the departed soul makes with is water, when tear drops rain down on them from their loved ones at the realization of their loss. Then, next, it can be with water fed via Tulsi-leaves or then Ganga Jal is poured in the mouth of the departed soul.
The next, Fire. An oil lamp, (preferably sesame-oil) with one wick only, or a single agarbathi (incense stick) are lit and kept near the head. Maybe it is done to send the universe a message, that we still care for the departed soul; “I will keep you warm, even though for the first time you feel so cold to my touch.” I wondered as I saw them lie as silent as I have never seen.
Then the final embrace we send them is by Fire. Fire, helped by the ever-eager-to-burn-wood-chips-soaked-with-Ghee. This was the first time, for me, Ghee did not smell good.
Fire destroys the last traces of us, except our footsteps and our memories of them, and the good work and good advise they leave behind.
In the process, I think it teaches us detachment from their physical form. With such thoughts floating in the sky of my mind I watched speechless my loved ones drift too far away from me in overwhelming smoke. This is the only smoke that I ever experienced, twice now, from which I did not want to run far from. The attachment, with the departed soul, still remains. Physically too, as we still hold on to their ashes.
And the last stage for us in their onward journey is ‘detachment’; when we sail the last boat leaving the harbor of life on the waters of the Ganges. The final frontier it is.
Their soul’s eternal journey commences when we let go of their only mortal remains, ashes, that we so dearly hold on to. I had too.
With such contemplation I had said my own last goodbyes to my loved ones. It was on the banks of the Ganges that I realized now they have drifted away too far for me to ever reach. I moved on.
Maybe that is why some of our last rites’ rituals may have come to be.
Kishorilal has 6 children. His family lives in the village. His four daughters are still in school.
I prodded Kishorilal to tell me more about any other financial challenge he may have faced.
He said, “After my elder brother passed away, I helped his daughter get married. They had some savings. I clubbed them with my own and paid for her wedding.” I was glad for that.
Thank you to Rana Roy, RB, and Akanksha Sarraff for buying this new bicycle for Kishorilal. He contributed nearly half its cost.
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.
Our recipients of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1
(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )
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