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The universe is never static. Nothing in it ever is; from the Magellanic Cloud to subatomic particles, changes happen in ceaseless cycles. The universe itself is happening; everything in it is continually happening, without pause, thought, malice, or benevolence. It happens, within it things happen; in these happenings, another other happenings happen.

Man, as far as is known, is the only creature, who has the compelling intelligence to understand this unstoppable universal phenomenon. When happenings of the universe relate to himself he calls them events out of sheer vanity. Most paradoxically, he is also among the only known beings to react to them inconsistently, self-centredly, and without the benefit of his own wisdom.

Among his countless preoccupations and curiosities, life and death easily fascinate and frighten him the most. He investigates by observation, analyses, even perhaps comprehends something or most of it -- but only from the safe distance of objectivity. The moment there is anything even remotely personal about the same life, and the same death, he is jolted. He forgets altogether that such occurrences are as regular as day and night. Despite the fact that these are so common, so known, so accepted in their unalterable inevitability, he is ecstatic with unabashed joy in celebrating life, or plunges into gloom, disbelief and anger at the loss of it, almost as if neither happened to any other person. He wants to believe that they are events unique to himself. He forgets also what he already knows of plants and ants, and other animals, large and incredibly small: that they are born and that they die: silently. They conform. They are happenings. They must happen.

He is shattered from the smugness of his knowledge, and the fact of his personal bondage precludes his reasoning and clouds his senses. He cannot know or understand what he otherwise already knows and understands.

My mother passed away; she has not gone to the vegetable market, or to the temple; she will now never return. She has died; like thousands of other mothers who die, and become framed photographs with dusty forgotten garlands draping them. It is so common; it happens all the time, everywhere. And yet, like many irrational human perceptions, this loss, which is so common, and unquestionably inevitable, becomes unique, never before, never after, the only one of its kind, when it is one's own mother. Man, unbelievably wise, and yet unable to use this ability for his own good.

You were variously associated with my mother during her times. Trying times, contented times, times of simple joys of fulfillment, times of physical infirmities. You have received of her love and concern and warmth and caring and laughter and touch and tears -- and in equal measure you gave her your humility and veneration, as you held her high in your esteem.

It was my good fortune to have been born of such a mother, among whose countless children, briefly or for a long stretch of time, you were one.

ramesh gandhi