Calcutta, India — Sunday, November 30th
At lunch the other day (it must have been ekadasi), we were served a platter of fruit: apples, oranges, bananas and, something I haven't seen for quite some time, papaya and guavas.
I wasn't thinking of anything in particular (just eating my lunch), but as I bit into the guava, the simultaneous, instantaneous feedback from all five of my senses — the crunch of my teeth biting into the firm, yellow outer skin, the texture of the white, pulpy flesh and hard pips within, the distinctive tropical aroma shooting up into my nostrils, and almost forgotten but oh-so-familiar exotic taste of the guava itself — somehow, inexplicably, jogged my memory into vividly recalling this almost half a century old scene from my childhood in South Africa...
I am sitting in the crook of a long branch in the guava tree directly in front of the side entrance to our house in Durban. It is one of the four tropical fruit trees (the others were mango, avocado and pawpaw) that grew in our tiny yard, and the guavas are big and juicy. I am happily munching on dozens of guavas — ignoring my mom's dire warnings that I would either get dysentery from eating too many of the green ones, or constipated from all the seeds if I ate much more! — swinging my bare feet contentedly beneath me...
This dusty reel of memory, played by the projector of my mind on the big screen of my consciousness (in Technicolor™!) is so vivid that I become quite caught up in the impromptu matinee, and begin to reminisce and nostalgically long for those "good old days."
And the entire scene, replete with all the props and extras — the bright summer morning, the cloudy blue sky, the family dog lying on the mat at the front door, my brother scarfing down mangoes in the adjacent tree (fruit fight!), my mother hanging the washing on the clothesline — is replayed in the split second that it takes to bite into the guava!
They say that your whole life flashes before you just before you die... Yikes! In Bhagavad Gita (8:6) Krishna says:
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam / tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya / sada tad-bhava-bhavitah
"Whatever you are always preoccupied with (sada tad-bhava-bhavitah), and therefore think of (yam yam vapi smaran bhavam) when you die (tyajaty ante kalevaram), determines your next body (tam tam evaiti)."
There are so many lost clusters of data stored in subliminal fragments of my memory! How will I be able to remember Krishna when I die? I recall, with despair, what I wrote about all these trivial associations in my mind games blog:
Oh Lord! There is really no hope for me, is there? You have seen the pathetic state of my consciousness. How will I keep all these mundane thoughts and impressions — these countless images and ideas! — from racing into my mind, clamoring for my exclusive attention, subverting, and ultimately overwhelming my consciousness at the time of death?
And to think, there was a time when I used to seriously believe that I might go back to Godhead at the end of this lifetime!
Layout by iMonk — November 30th, 2008.