Meanwhile, a few successive deaths occurred in the family. Till then, I had never witnessed Death. When Mother had passed away, I had been very young. She had been suffering for a long time; I had not even known when she became critical. She used to sleep in the same room as us, although in a separate bed. But when she was ill, she was taken away for a few days to the Ganga on a boat: after she returned, she lived in a room on the second floor. The night she died, we had been asleep. I don’t know what was the hour – an old maidservant rushed into our room and wailed, “Oh God, what a terrible calamity for you all!” Bouthakurani1 immediately and hastily scolded her and led her away from the room: she was afraid that in the deep hour of the night, the news would strike a grave blow to our young hearts. As I woke up briefly in the faint light of the dimmed lamp, I felt a sudden fear, but I could not even understand properly what had happened. In the morning, when I got up and heard the news of Mother’s death, even then, I could not completely fathom its true meaning. I came out to the outer veranda and found her well-dressed body laid on a bed in the courtyard. But there was no sign in that body of the terribleness of Death: the image I saw of Death in the light of that morning was as serene and charming as a pleasant sleep. I could not notice clearly the divide between life and the end of life. It was only when her body was carried out of the main gate of our home and we followed it to the crematorium that all the storm of grief seemed to rise all at once and set up a lamentation in my heart that never again will Mother come in through this door of this house and take her own seat in her very own, lifelong home. The morning passed; we came back from the crematorium; when I arrived at the turn of the lane, I looked up at Father’s room on the second floor: he was still sitting in the balcony of his room, motionless in his upasana2.


1Bouthakurani: sister-in-law

2upasana: meditation; worship; prayer

Excerpt translated from an original text by Rabindranath Tagore.


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