I was woken up early today morning by a phone call announcing the passing away of a cousin, we grew up with. For a moment,i couldn't reract. After life took us to opposite corners of the country , perhaps, I have met him only a couple of times in the last 40 years.
When I started reacting to the message, once again my thought was, what will happen to the anniversary rituals of our father, slated for the next week? Now, the first anniversary rituals are very elaborate and important and are spread over a period of 5 days.
All arrangements for the rituals have been initiated well in advance. All my siblings and in-laws have made travel arrangements. I have already packed my bags and have booked my travel for tomorrow. The death of an immediate cousin, means a ban of all rituals for a period of 10 days at least. So, now, what?
In the village, where I grew up, it was usual practice among the folks to look for reasons for incidents such as the persent one. Cancellation or postponement of such important functions were never looked upon by the village folks kindly. Invariably they were able to link the causes with some disrespect shown to the elders or some other misdeeds!. Their argument was, there has to be some reason for everything / some malafide action committed some time. They strongly believed in "You do your duties well, you will be rewarded". Somebody doing well in life, he has done "punyakarma". Somebody having difficulties in life, he has done "papakarma".Take care of your elders, you will be taken care of by your offsprings. Help the needy, you will be helped in need. Take care of others'children, your children will be taken care of.Having grown up in these surroundings, involuntarily, my mind starts analysing the past one year, to see where we have gone wrong as to displease our forefathers? In the next moment, being bombarded by new management theories of modern days, I hush my mind not to make judgements. After all, questioning "why some thing happened or did not happen" will only bring forth some excuses so think how we can improve upon the present situation. This disagreement between the present day "me " and a childhood spent among the traditional, well meaning rural community is an everyday occurance, these days. I can never decide if this is right or that.
The present day generation, being brought up in nuclear families cannot understand why one should waste so much energy in trying to find out a reason for anything and everything. At the same time, not a day passes, without the media reporting, events like,"Last minute cancellation of ticket/ giving away to someone who wanted to travel on some urgent mission" saves somebody's life (the flight crashed), "extension of work in a foreign country cost the engineer his life"(engineer's work in the foreign country was extended by one month and he was killed in some blast there during the extended period).Do we still attach some importance to these causes and means or is to only to provide some sensational news? I am at a loss to understand.
As my husband always says,"we are destined to be a confused lot, that we are the transient generation, who have grown up imbibing certain values and are living in a period which has totally different set of values".