Life is a climb through rough terrain or a serene journey on a flowing river. It's an obstruction run in one phase and a quiet walk by a lake in another. It sinks to the bottom of the well one season and reaches the highest peak in a new one. Life carries on with joy and love of others but the constant reminder that nothing is forever leaves us feeling alone. This blog is to share stories of the lives of characters I have developed while contemplating on life's great journey.
Our dear Jazz spent almost 10 short years with us of
playfulness. What was his purpose?
He taught us to take long walks and to notice all that
surrounds us. We began to appreciate nature, learned to capture its beauty with
our camera and became one with our earth. We sniffed the fresh morning breeze
or the dense afternoon air which carried fragrances of the new blooms or stench
of decomposing roadkill or passing car exhaust. We heard the cardinals sing and
owls hoot as we walked through the woods or neighborhoods, because of Jazz.
He disciplined us to step outside, go on regular walks,
rain or shine. We began to appreciate the raindrops and hopped, skipped and jumped
over puddles. We trudged through deep snow or admired our paw prints in the
fresh dust of snowy path. We soaked in the scorching heat as the high noon Sun
flared and glared down at us shining us from inside. We felt the breeze caress
our skin and flow through our hair as it embraced us with its cooling and
Thanks to Jazz, we stopped to marvel at the dew drops on
grass blades or droplets frozen in midair as they hung like jewels from the
maple. We revered the morning frost as it dusted its soft white elegance on
green and yellow lawns. Our respect for black ice and large frozen chunks of
ice sheets on the walkways helped us look at its beauty beyond its threatening
danger of the chilling fall.
Jazz’s desire to stop and sniff at every bush or tree, a
fallen object of unusual shape and size allowed our eyes to notice all that we
would have passed by without a thought. We would have missed the beauty of fire
ant colonies in their perfect shaped mounds, the speed of the albino squirrel
as it scurried up the tree, or even an empty plastic water bottle on the
sidewalk that Jazz chose to pick up and carry between his teeth to bring it
home so we could place it in the recycling tub. He found fallen twigs and
branches, short and long, and carried them home as if to build a nest.
His pure joy and elegance in the thrill of the chase,
whether he was chasing bunnies or was playing being chased by another dog at
the dog park, taught us to be free of inhibitions and run for the thrill of it.
His prance and frolic gave us courage to follow his cue as we paraded through
the streets with our pride and joy that was Jazz.
I take a big long stretch every morning before stepping out
of bed and I learned that from Jazz. Every cell in my body is awake and
energized with this stretch and I’m ready to face a new day refreshed, even if
it is a day without Jazz.
A year has gone by without his presence in his physical
form, but we know he is stardust and has mingled with our surrounding. He is
with us, around us and continues to serve his purpose of reminding us to stay
on the path of living for the day and appreciate the little things in life. He
taught us to use each and every sense that our body is gifted with and to wake
the inner sense that is elusive and enigmatic.
Thank you Jazz for your wonderful 10 years with us and I
know you are now helping others learn the same in a variant form, yet continue
to be with us in the form of some of your particles.
In memory of our dearest friend on this 1 year anniversary (March
4th) when his body ceased to be in the form we recognize him. Our
love to you for always and beyond.
Red, I thought would be a good name at first, but I grew
tired of it soon. I had almost a year in my dark closet to ponder and still I
could not settle on a good name.
Snow was still on the ground when I was brought up into the
light. My family moved around as they packed for another trip. I found myself
lugged to an airport, stuffed in a tiny, congested compartment for yet another
long journey across the ocean to India. Only mother and daughter accompanied me
on this trip.
Delhi-Gurgaon was the same as we had left it with honking
cars, cud chewing cows on the roads and warm air. A few days later, after our
bodies were adjusted to the new time zone, a group of us loaded up in a van and
drove up north into the Himalayas. We drove through farmland, small towns and
sprawling cities outside the Capital, up into the mountains. Through winding
roads we observed the dried up river beds, monkeys perched up on milestones and
the panoramic expanse of the majestic mountains, until we reached the bustling
valley city of Dehra Dun.
Equally bustling was the ancestral home we stayed in where
the extended family congregated all the days we were there. They shared stories
of distant and recent past, talked over each other and listened to absorb or
correct details. While the daughter in my family appeared lost, fascinated, and
beguiled with the lively and boisterous atmosphere, the mother and grandmother
listened with interest and nostalgia as they blinked away welled tears. Their
faces reflected reminiscence of younger years and older times, memories of
those gone but ever present in their hearts and a smile to a touching moment or
story that had been recounted several times through generations.
The drive back out of the valley, through the mountainous,
winding roads, across the towns and cities into Delhi sped by in blur. A vision
of this journey representing many journeys sat heavily on the passengers’
hearts. Even I reflected on my treks from the Swiss mountains to the snow and
lakes of Minnesota to this valley city in India. My life had just begun and I
had many miles in me yet. A whole world spread out before me to discover and
Barely had I settled into the house in Gurgaon that we were
off again, this time in a smaller plane towards the port city of Mumbai. Another
family welcomed us there with warmth and vitality. Great-grandmother lighted up
with delight and found the energy to sit up, walk out and join the family as
they assembled in the sitting room. Four generations mingled, bonded, healed as
they shared stories separated by time and space. They played the card game
passed down generations, making more memories.
Mumbai visit also ended as fleetingly as Dehra Dun and
ultimately the entire vacation was over and we were back in Minnesota. Within a
week of returning to this side of the Pacific, we learned of
great-grandmother’s departure from this world. A sad goodbye but with closure
and passing down of memories spanning four generations.
I went back to my nook, empty, sagging and reflecting on my
On a particularly gloomy morning, I woke up to find myself
on the big bed. A litter of clothing and a large bag occupied the space next to
me. Rain pelted down outside, sliding down the window pane like tears.
We rushed to the airport for a long and hard journey to
India. I gathered this was no vacation from conversations overheard and the
urgency of the trip. Reaching our destination across the other side of the
globe, I sat forgotten in a room. I observed many people walk in and out of the
room, muffled cries through the night, quiet conversations, and plenty of hugs.
I gathered that a tragedy had befallen the family, in the
extended family we had cruised with, and a sadness set in into my folds. One
early morning, before the sun rose, I found myself stuffed and dragged into a
car, into a train, and then into another car. By midmorning I found myself
sitting on the banks of the mighty river Ganges, surrounded by the mystical
mountain range, the very impressive Himalayas.
Getting back into the car, we travelled toward a cleaner
part of the river and crossed to the other side on a swinging bridge. Monkeys and
langoors swung from cables and ropes around the bridge, unperturbed by
the fast flowing current beneath them. They jumped from cables to trees to the
bridge as if putting on a show for everyone on both the banks and for those in
between. As we dodged donkeys and motorcycles and massive amount of human
traffic crossing over to the other side, a light rain began its pitter patter
gradually increasing its intensity. My family rushed to take cover under a peepal
tree across the bridge.
As we huddled under it, a beautiful calf joined us under the
canopy of the leaves. He pushed its way in, joined our small group and stood
tall and proud among us. His light brown coat shone on his young skin and
stubbles of young horns sprouted on his head. He nuzzled his way in further
into our group as we all became fascinated with the beautiful, friendly and innocent
creature. My family fed it guava they had carried for the journey from their
tree at home, they took pictures of the calf, for which he posed and modeled
charmingly, and then they christened him. They named him BOB. It was
then I began to ponder, what if I had a name. I guess that question will remain
with me for a long time to come.
Sunshine greeted me with a smile and many new faces around
the house one fine morning. My family and their extended family hustled to prepare
for their vacation.
Stuffed and bundled, I boarded the plane for a three hour
journey south. I could smell the ocean even before we landed. From the airport
we taxied straight to the port and boarded a really giant boat. As I learned
later that calling it a boat was an insult, to its size and exuberance, and the
preferred word for that city afloat was a cruise ship.
We sailed for the next four days into blissful rapture, as
we admired the horizon with its many shades of blues and greens and everything
in between. Conversations flowed as lyrically as the waves at the shores we
anchored. Our first shore leave was in paradise, an island aptly named for its
serenity and clarity. Each shore leave was equally distinct and exciting.
Over the four days I was lugged and left by the poolside
deck, stuffed with damp clothing, wet goggles, and in my safe pockets I kept
watch on their room key cards and watches and phones. On a land excursion, I
soaked in the sun, and from my vantage point on the beach, I admired the
vastness of the bluest ocean ever seen. The family battled boisterous waves,
waded in the pools closer to the sandy area, and swam in the delicious beauty
of the Atlantic.
Rejuvenated and exhilarated, we returned home to the beauty
of the Minnesota summer. Robin and swallow chicks emerged from their nests
ready to take the plunge to find their wings.
I sat forgotten, partially unpacked in a corner as I watched
the whole family run in and out playing with the dog, or gather in the kitchen
to cook, eat and make merry. In the midst of one of those merriment, while
everyone clustered around the living room table, I heard a tap, tap of the
dog’s steps as he strolled around the house. His nails and the wood floors
helped me guide his whereabouts as he inspected each room in search of
amusement or crumbs. I heard him go down the stairs to the basement and a short
while later run back up, unsatisfied. He probably found the guest bedroom door
shut, to keep him out, I’m sure. As I heard him run up the sleek wooden steps,
I heard him trip on one of them, and at that I laughed out loud. Big mistake.
Not only had I called attention to my vulnerable self, open and available in a
forgotten corner, I also let him know that I had noticed his embarrassment and
laughed at him.
Tap tap, his feet made their way to me and I braced for the
assault to start. He cautiously walked toward me, looked at my unshapely form,
and sniffed the remnants of sand and ocean on me. He pawed my middle pocket,
the one where granola bars and nuts usually made their home during the travels.
It was empty now, but I guess he could smell them nevertheless. He had no
thumbs, thankfully, so there was no way he was opening any of my zippers.
I saw his handsome body plop down next to me, his gorgeous
face with its big floppy ears and dense eyes, resting on the floor between his
front paws. We watched each other for a while as if keeping company. Then I
felt him inch closer to me, his nose on top of my black straps, the ones that
buckle up under the backpackers’ chest to keep me from sagging on their backs.
The dog, the beautiful blue dog, proceeded to lick the strap, and before I knew
it, the plastic buckle was between his teeth. He gently chewed it as if it were
a bone. He was a gentle sort so it was not anything vicious or any sort of
Nevertheless, I screamed, I got angry, I called for help,
but no one came my rescue. By the time my owner called out for the dog from the
living room, as if sensing he was up to mischief, my buckle was past repair. He
got back up on his paws and tap tapped his way out of the room, innocence
pasted like plaster on his face.
The damage to my limb, the assault on my person was not
discovered for almost two months until the next trip my family had to take.