19. There Are No Words …

I know there are countless souls out there who empathize with the loss of a loved one, a child, perhaps your child; and with all my heart, I am so very sorry.

So I know you get it when I say there really are no words to express how you and I are feeling and every set of circumstances surrounding our loss keeps it impossible to compare … but we can try at some point to share at the very least.  I’m at that point now.

I’m going to go forward presently because I have not spoke of this in any depth for more than a half century.  It is like it has just happened, now that I bring it to the surface.

Once back at the house, my son’s wrapped remains are gently and lovingly placed in the middle of our living room.  Here also we had laid my nana and my father.  The pundit commenced with the puja and the traditional rituals for the dead.  The process of saying good night my sweet angel was underway.  Deep breaths; this continued well into the night.

In the morning it was time to take our baby to the *burial ground.  As practiced at the time in our Hindu culture **only men were allowed to cremate or bury a body.  Women were not permitted by tradition to even be present; yes, regardless if the departed was female or male.

We took my son to the Vatuwaqa Cemetery.  It sat on a hill overlooking the sea.  The grief, the heartbreak, the suspended state in which there’s nothing but disbelief, and it’s all too real.  There we were.

My maternal uncle, the very same whose shop I used to sell my kites in, had said many comforting words including something about squaring up a debt, in attempt to make it easier to accept.  Of course none could dispel any of the pain, I just couldn’t seem to get that boulder off of my heart and I do not remember even trying to.

But his words which resounded through my tears and heartache, remaining with me through all these years were, “He is a very pure soul so never worry for him.  He has returned home to heaven.” 

I won’t even try to put into words which can be so awkward, what it felt like when I laid him down directly into the earth, swaddled in the wrapped blanket.  There is no casket.  I then placed a handful of marigolds and white carnations upon his little body.

The immediate family members followed suit and then I began to cover him with the soil of Fiji.  The soil of my mother’s birthplace, of my birthplace, the place of my son’s birth …and now his body’s permanent resting place.

Not loud enough for anyone but my son I said, ‘Go my son, you are free now.’  Today and everyday since he passed back in 1955, I have kept him in that quiet, blissful place of my heart knowing full well that in there, he cannot be taken from me ever again.

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*burial ground   in the ways of Hindu religion, most all deceased are cremated.  I won’t get into the details of this subject but just to assist in the understanding as is relative to what LBM is saying: But not so in the case of young ones, they are buried.

Up to what age where this no longer applies is variable but usually not past three or four.  It is believed that a person so young has not made the attachment to the body which an older person would have, therefore Aatma Ram! (the soul) didn’t need purification, which is the duty of the 🔥.

**only men were allowed    over the recent years, this tradition seems to have lost the strictness of men only and now more often than not, women are present.  However it still comes down to men only at the actual point of cremation.

18. Good Night My Sweet Angel

That very day, after I felt I had done all that I could do to safeguard our son, we took an interlude in our actions and thoughts and just soaked in his beauty.  Of course the house was still all abuzz with his arrival; and after everyone kept calling him ‘baby’ well it was high time we gave this blessed angel his name.

‘I have thought about this for quite sometime now.  I wish for *his name to be _____.’ 

I spoke this to his mother first naturally.  She fully accepted my choice.  I ran it by the rest of the household, mother first and then brother, his wife and so on and well, everyone loved it!  

I didn’t return to work just yet.  I spent the next few days learning my son’s face and falling in love with the very thought of him, this tiny little person, this bright soul, gifted into our lives.

The week didn’t have a chance to pass when we noticed his appearance was changing; it looked like his little tummy was becoming bloated; he was looking sickly.  A car was called for and we rushed him to the hospital.

In the emergency room our baby was swiftly checked, immediate danger recognized and instantly admitted into the ICU Children’s ward.  Shortly after that he was back in his little incubator, where he should’ve [still] been in the first place!  

Our son’s life hung in the balance of what is and what is not to be for about the next 22 hours.

We did not leave his side.  Pleading with God for his life to be spared while reaching through the incubator openings to stay in touch with him, we watched over him helplessly.

It was clear-cut the doctors were extremely upset with us and rightly so for taking such a foolish decision only days before.  A solemn faced doctor told us, “We warned you about this!”

And then his face softened slightly and he continued, “Anyway we will do everything we can to help him come out of whatever he is going through.”

Side by side, his mother and I stayed right next to him as he lay there.  It seemed every few minutes or so he’d open his cute little eyes and it was like he was looking at me; his eyes seemed to tell me, ** “Don’t cry daddy, I’ll come back.”

And while my hand was inside the little incubator hole, holding on to his tiny hand with my fingers, his little hand was wrapped around my finger when I felt that precious grip lose its warmth.  For his dear life, I held on as I felt his hands become lifeless and cold, so cold.

The doctors and nurses had been standing around the incubator all this time with very somber expressions as Hemma and I sobbed desperately, holding on to one another and we both cried out loud, “God! please don’t take our baby away from us, please …”  

Our son left his body, this world …he left us.  Someone please tell us this is only a bad dream – Unreal.

Did time pass or not, hard to say.  A doctor gently asked my wife and I to leave the room as there were formalities with the deceased baby to which they had to attend.  They suggested we wait where the rest of our family would be.  Eventually Hemma and I made it down into the lobby.  They knew now.  

My maternal uncle was there and he approached me, gently placing a loving hand on me.  He firmly said, “Get ahold of yourself my son…”  And then compassionately he continued, “…perhaps this soul came to you as your child and just for a few days, a few precious hours because somewhere in time you must’ve +owed him.  The debt must be squared now.”

Tear filled eyes finished,  “We all share in your grief but cannot do much to take away your pain. I’m so sorry beta.”

After about 2 hours or so, we were given his body and we brought our son home for the last time.  

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*LBM could not bring himself to replace his baby’s name, even to tell this story.  At this time he has chosen to just leave it out completely, veiled in loving protection of his memory.  

** Reincarnation is no surprise to those of you who know about Hinduism

+owed     debt (karja) karma aka the Universal balance

Many thanks to all of you, our dedicated readers for sticking it out through the unfolding of LBM’s life so far.  This was truly the most difficult post to get out and into a blog, never mind him painstakingly hand writing and accounting it all over again in his heart, his mind and out loud when I have to question him;  feels like an interrogation sometimes.  

Please stay tuned as you’ll not believe what more could possibly happen!  It’s been amazing watching this all unfold from within him.  What a journey thus far!

17. The Paper Was Delivered Earlier Than Usual – part 2

The time came quickly for our son to move into his little incubator; he would have to live there for a short while.  After some time had passed the rest of the family was allowed to see him, now that he was safe in his warm and mostly transparent box.

On the third day after our child was born, Hemma was released to return home but our son of course had to remain another week or so (depended upon expected progress) in the incubator and under the watchful eye of the medical staff.

Naturally the parents are invited to return and spend everyday with the child [mother is] nursing, loving and just being with him, leaving at night to return the next day and so on until the baby is strong, healthy and released.

Hemma did return to the hospital during the day to be with our son while I was at work.  Once off duty I’d go straight to the hospital and join them.  She and I would return home together in the evenings.

This next scene is only two or three days time past; something was going on while I was at work;  it would seem, very important decisions were being taken without my involvement.  I recall something about ‘family persuasion’ —

I was suddenly faced with a reality where my wife had been coaxed by her parents to take our son +out from his incubator and away from the hospital.

What?!

Only sixteen, still a child in reality and certainly not to say that I was not too young myself but regardless, somehow she was convinced that she should talk to the doctors and persuade them to release our baby.

I suppose promising to take extra good care and exceptional precautions was enough to dispel the doctor’s doubts just enough and it was agreed.  Or perhaps the law was no different then, that no one can be held against their will.

And not unlike today’s set of rules at any hospital, the formality to document that they [hospital & staff] could not be held accountable should anything, God forbid, happen with the child, took its place and they allowed the release.  Hemma signed the paperwork.

Her parents wanted to take our baby and their daughter to their house; I had to put my foot down where I could.  ‘If this child leaves the hospital, wife or no wife, my son comes home with me!’  At this time there wasn’t any more argument about it.

I most hesitantly obliged my wife’s actions then and took him from the safety of the hospital.  We went to our home; Hemma, our son and myself.  I remember going around the bedroom, *sealing it off any way I could, trying to create an incubator atmosphere.

I cannot help to wonder how this scenario would have played out in today’s world.

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+out      Why?  In spite of the facts I guess I will never know exactly how this came to be, always two or more sides right?   And try as I might to understand the logic here, if no explanation is ever offered, well what else can I think about it?

*sealing      This was the most desirable room in the house; an all wood room which created the best insulation from air-leaks and what have you