As a slightly more (*clears throat*) mature student, I have had many memorable experiences in my life. From first love to which lead to major heartbreak, exciting travels overseas and career opportunities in the performing arts that were beyond my wildest dreams. While it is difficult to pick just one memorable experience that stands out (the birth of my beautiful nephew in 2002 changed my life!), I wanted to share something that happened to me ten years ago that will always be with me. Although the following story involves a death of a loved one, this is a happy tale.
Just a little back story to start with- when I was 18 years old, I went to an amazing physic who, amongst other things, told me `There will be a death in your family and you will be away. You won’t be able to make the funeral. But it will be fine.’ Okaaaaaaay.
If you read one of my earlier blogs, you will know that I have always felt that India was my spiritual home. What I didn’t know until just prior to leaving for India, that it was also one of my Grandfather’s favourite places in the world. Pop was a Captain of a cargo ship and would be away from his family for months a time, carrying goods from port to port all over the world. At the time of my departure, my Pop was very ill with cancer but he insisted I go. That’s how I discovered his love of the country.
Two and a half weeks into my travels, I was staying in the city of Mysore, known for its Royal Palaces and the centuries old Devaraja Market, filled with spices, silk, and sandalwood.
My friend and I took in the sights of the city and ate the most incredible food in all of the lands- including the best cheese naan ever! We were staying in a modest hotel off the main street (where we were once almost knocked over by a runaway bull!) which thankfully also had a pool.
We were due to leave midweek and decided to have a little sleep in that morning. That was the plan. I, however, woke up early after having dreams of being aboard a ship of some kind, drifting over the ocean towards the sun. I quietly slipped out of bed, still groggy from sleep, grabbed my camera for some unknown reason and went out into the hallway. Our room was at the end of the hall and I mindlessly walked towards the other end, stopping midway and turned to look down the adjoining hallway. There, standing in the middle of the hall, looking directly me was my Pop. Hands in his pockets, rattling the coins he kept as he usually did. He was as clear as the sun that was shining into the hall from the window.
He smiled at me and I raised my camera as fast as I could. But he was already gone. Just like that.
I returned to my room and decided I needed to go downstairs to the street and call my Mum. I found a phone booth and after a few tries, I finally got through. After saying ‘hello’ Mum told me that Pop had died earlier that morning. I told her that I already knew. I had seen him earlier. She was shocked but didn’t ask any questions. The funeral would be a few days later. I told my Mum how that I loved her and said that I would call soon.
We left Mysore that day and travelled north by train and arrived in the northern city of Varanasi a day and a half later. Later, at sunset, we took a boat cruise down the Ganges River. I released an offering of floating candles and flowers into the river for my Pop and for my mother. Later that evening I witnessed some priests performing a fire ceremony on the banks of the river. This was my own personal funeral and goodbye to my Pop.
The psychic that I had visited some 16 years earlier was right. I wouldn’t make it home for the funeral. And it was fine. I had said `goodbye’ to my Grandfather in my own way- one that he would have loved so much.
It’s been almost ten years since I last travelled to India. Once again, the homeland is calling me back. I hear her voice beckoning me to return. I need to. I want to. I have to. My heart and spirit need to reconnect to the land and the people. Maybe next year…