Unkindness

This situation is something of an analogy.

Manjula was the kindest person I’ve probably ever met yet she’d be let down badly by people throughout her life.

I also try to be kind and considerate and I’m beginning to realise it doesn’t work well when others are insensitive, thoughtless, can’t appreciate the ‘other’ and are ultimately unkind. I know, I know I’m a naive 63 year old.

I’m now isolated, in quarantine at home, the street is blocked by fencing on either side of my house, the washing machine is disconnected, I’m unable to shop. Lucie is confused and I can’t walk her. I’m disrupted.

Sowbhagya who works for me is also in a difficult situation quarantined with a sticker on her door confined to a postage stamp house separated from her son.

On the positive side I am in a comfortable home, received home deliveries, stocked up the freezer, Lucie is a street girl and can figure things out. I am extremely fortunate, there are people in terrible situations and have been for months. I should complain less and be sensitive to their situation.

This situation is however completely unnecessary and could have been avoided with a little thought and care.

Two weeks ago the owner asked if they could use the downstairs house for a couple of months. I readily agreed as we have no guests in the current situation. I use it but can manage. There’s one of me and counting the ground and first floor house it’s four bedrooms, library, two lounges you know the sort of thing. Help others, share it out.

The five members of family: grandparents, parents and daughter were living in an apartment in Bangalore and were concerned about the increase in the spread of the virus. At least one of them has underlying health conditions, and the elderly are from a vulnerable group. Once we discussed a few conditions primarily about looking after my stuff and complications about shifting the washing machine plus getting confirmation this was a temporary arrangement (many of my friends were suspicious it was a con to get back the houses) but I checked that one out specifically.

It was a hard thing to do emotionally. Manjula died a year ago. This is our home. She moved and properly set up the Mysore Bed and Breakfast when we took over the downstairs house around eight years ago. But I could so I should help. They could exclusively have the downstairs house with me and Lucie upstairs, separate entrances etc.

They moved in ten days ago.

The adult son of the owner who I deal with now informed me after six days, he’d been tested positive for coronavirus and would go into isolation in hospital.

The rest of the family and I were tested the next day. It seems that the only one other who tested positive was his daughter and she’s now with him in hospital.

Of course it’s just one of those things we have to deal with the best we can, everyone around the world has the same challenges. However, we’ve spent almost three months in lockdown being careful not to get the virus. That care paid off as we’ve had no cases in our layout Siddarthanager, until now, that is.

Now we have what seems to be a completely avoidable situation. Were they suspicious that they might be carrying the virus? Probably, otherwise, why go for a test the day after arriving?

If there was a suspicion a test should have been taken before shifting from Bangalore or gone to their isolated rural farmhouse rather than completely disrupting our lives.

It’s a practical problem but was quite an emotional pull letting them use the house. Manjula’s room was downstairs and for her last few months we created a lovely set up for her. This was her place I was letting go. I’d asked for her picture, the one on which we’d placed flowers every day for a month and then every month to be left on the wall. I discovered they’d taken it down and stuffed it in my storeroom down there. It’s now upstairs with five other pictures of her so maybe a bit over-the-top.

It’s now reflected, when I said at the beginning, kindness met by at the very least insensitivity, to me and my situation and to Manjula even after she’s gone. People don’t care for others enough.

The world is in a sorry state, we just don’t care. The virus, climate change and our responses are actually symptoms of that malaise.

Love in the time of virus

It’s occurred to me today that there were three layers of love, with ‘you-know-who.’

The first was when we were ‘falling-in-love’.

it was all too much for Lucie

The second was when our relationship was recognised by us and our guests. (Some noticed before us)

The third layer was after she slipped through my clumsy fingers and left for her new life.

Over time I get to know her better and love her more.

….

our big photo album

…….

with thanks to Gabriel

guests become friends

……. become family

Meet Jean-Yves and Nathalie from Paris came to share our home, meet Manjula, me and Lucie. It was our first season after Manjula in her strong independent way slipped through my clumsy fingers but we all felt her presence.

Jean-Yves is a nurse and works in an ‘addictology’ department in a hospital. Previously a psychiatric nurse, he likes and is very committed to his job. He always raises questions about society, inequalities and he is waiting for the Grand Soir for more social justice.

Nathalie, is passionate about human relations, also has a strong conscience and ethics who is responsible for social action for the archaeologists department. She likes to participates in and creates actions for the climate and social justice.

They live in a small apartment in the XIVth district of Paris, in a charming little cobbled street. They like to walk together for hours in Paris and enjoy travelling to countries like India. Together they are looking to broaden their insights and gain a more accurate view of the world.

It was fun and a real pleasure getting to know Jean-Yves and Nathalie while welcoming them to our home. They are an interesting, thoughtful and caring couple. We had a great adventure together on a mycycle tour but I’ll let them tell you themselves about their visit through their wonderful online presence. There are two entries here:

Why write?

I’m trying to create something new in my life since misplacing the beloved one.

It’s to try my hand at writing, specifically to share our story.

Last year I wrote a few short stories posted on this site as factly fiction. They were to help me learn, improve my writing and find my voice (it’s still lost).

As a trainer and guide I’ve been telling stories anyway and I’ve realised that writing is an extension of that to share ideas and insights.

One example of a fictional story is the Phoenix Coup. I was taking ideas of how we could organise differently. Shift away from endless growth, decentralise control and localise our activities. Some of the changes we’ve seen and need to see more of at this ‘time of virus’ such as a guaranteed minimum income, reducing the working week, more active participation in organising things themselves are being reported on. For example local labs or a town that has sorted out its own testing for the virus

So why write? It’s to share ideas and connect with people in a different way.

I hope you find some of interesting and even entertaining.

Why write to Manjula?

Thank you for your kind responses via messages, phone calls, Facebook and here on this site, to my two letters. It’s been important for me to share and feel your support.

In passing through the grief portal of pain to love, to understand and know Manjula better. I’ve found a few useful books.

The letter to Manjula was me talking to her to recognise my loss, and share with her, my remorse which I wasn’t able to before she died. It’s part of a process outlined in the grief handbook the book on top of the pile.

Is the latest I read, especially useful as there was a distinct loss of meaning and still is to an extent.

I’ve maybe written the letter a dozen times but it’s only now I’ve felt able to share it with her. In therapeutic groups or pairs they’ll often read their letter out to each other.

It’s quite interesting to shift from focussing on her body/ego to her soul spirit wherever that might now be.

It’s been quite a journey from the devastation I felt through to recognising my absolute love and devotion to Manjula. There’s now more sweet and less bitter and my first thought is now more likely to bring a smile, than a tear.

I now know her better, partly as I’m researching and writing our story.

Meanwhile Mysore comes back to life. There’s been an unlocking. Here’s a few shots from our morning walk

Taking home a palm branch for his fire.
Any opportunity to sell and survive
Lucie in our park after today’s walk. Determined to keep away from me and entice ticks.
Ha ha this one isn’t from our walk 🙂 it’s one of Manjula’s favourite flowers and now a tattoo.

a letter to Manjula

My dearest Manjula,

I’ve written this letter many times but non have been right. I think it’s now time to just do it. I’m writing to say sorry and thank you.

You’re everywhere, with me, with Lucie, all our friends and always will be but where’s your spirit now?

We’ve done all the Hindu rites to help you on your way. I hope your beautiful compassionate spirit soul will be closer to your moksha as you were so positive, good and kind in this life, even with all it’s difficulties.

I wish you were here with me now. I’d be looking into your eyes and be able to tell if you hadn’t understood any words so I could change them for you. We were amazing together and you are the most important thing to me in my life.

I’m devastated by losing you, I will always love you. You made me happy but I got some things wrong and for that I’m so sorry.

When you died, I felt a lot of pain and still do. I wish that things were different. I feel guilty and wish I could swop places with you. You’ve left the most unbelievable gap in my life, nothing can ever be the same but the good thing is you’re still here and always will be.

I’m sorry for letting you down.

When you were diagnosed: I should have contacted more people for advice and got you to a doctor in England; got married straight away and if need be, moved there. I wish I’d tried everything to help you live longer and have a good life. I trusted that they would sort it out here and I was wrong, maybe nothing else would have worked, we just don’t know. I now have to accept what is.

Overall I should have been less the action man, taking charge and been more in tune and sensitive to you. You had a terribly difficult time but you were so strong, positive and caring, and didn’t show how hard it was for you. The last months and especially that final week I didn’t know what to do for the best.

On the last Friday night you had a heart attack and they brought you back to life. The Doctors said that if you had another they would need to use the ventilator and might not be able to get you off it. You only wanted to be on the machine for one day so when you had second attack, I had to ask them to let you go.

That is and will be the most difficult decision in my whole life. 

Your illness and all that followed was also difficult for me, I was numb by it all and not as aware as I should have been. I was grieving a long time even before I lost you, we both knew that was happening but I couldn’t recognise and deal with it, it was all too much. I often didn’t know what to do.

I am so sorry that I was angry with you that last Tuesday when I realised you hadn’t taken your tablets. There was never any problem affording the drugs, hospitals or doctors, I told you but I realise now you’d had enough. I hadn’t been properly listening to you. I wish I had done more and better.

For these things I am so sorry, I let you down and now because of that I don’t have you with me.

I’ve never had regrets before and I’ve cried so much I think I might need a top up of salt.  😉

I miss you so much and wish you were here. We will connect again.

What’s important is, we found each other, fell in love and created a wonderful life together. Thank you for giving me a life lived with love and joy, sharing yourself with me. You are the kindest person.

Here and now I’ve just lost more salt. I wish there was more hugging you, kissing you, touching you, listening to you, telling you I loved you and more honeymoon (Kama) together.

Our friends have been wonderful support, Lucie has taken your place as my new boss. I know, I know, as we both said, we were equal.

You’d like the things I’ve done: gifts of Manjula pens and steel straws to our friends, four, yes four stone benches in parks to remember you, for all the people to use, meals at the Ashram, I’ve cycled a giant photo of you around Mysore, made a memory tree and even got Manjula flags in the hall made from your clothes. I’ve told everyone in the world that we were married and I love you, which I always wanted to do. I’ll do more.

I promise to write our story. As I write it and better understand your recordings, I realise how you had such struggles throughout your life. Maybe we thought they were in the past when we met up but the illness created even more problems. It must have been especially hard for you for those last few weeks. I’m sorry I wasn’t listening enough, providing better support and showing my love more.

One of the many wonderful thing about you is even though you’ve had all those difficulties throughout your life, you’ve always been kind to people helping whenever you can and so many tell me, you lit up their lives (and mine) and blessed them with your bright wonderful smile.

So this letter to you is to say and I’m sorry and to thank you for being with me and the wonderful nine years we were together, when I know you were mostly happy.

But it isn’t yet the end. It’s the beginning of something else. You aren’t rid of me, there is unfinished business.

I miss your smile, your wit, our fun and love,

Love from your forever  husband,

Stephen

x

Manjula was full of them.

Ideas and jokes that is.

It all did begin as a joke. Justin is leaving Mysore so we’ve craftily fetched a couple of useful items that he can’t take with him.

That’s our first stage.

Manjula’s concerns included what to do with all the stuff I was bringing home. Especially art and books. She reckoned there wasn’t enough room. Wrong!

Second she wanted to give me things to do when I couldn’t lead cycle tours anymore. When I was 75, or so she thought.

Well it all started with Faizan borrowing. Now we have Manjula’s library. She’s left it a bit messy.

There’s also a work area and..

Balcony.

Available for guests and our friends in Mysore

Sunflower day.

Hello from lockdown land here in Mysore. Lucie and I were getting bored with each other so we’ve created sunflower day. It’s a day to invite friends to visit. Here they are in the photo. Can you spot them?

How many are there?

Someone’s sneaked in five pictures of Manjula. That’s cheating and only counts as one.

Update: I can see three gods clearly, and there are two hidden away.

There’s more detailed photos below

There’s three gods in this photo, where’s the Australian animal?
One god and a dog
We have so many friends…

It’s Tom’s Day

“O Captain my Captain! Our fearful trip is done.”

Well I can’t say it’s not been a challenge because it has.

Yesterday’s Tom day was a great success. I managed to get through the whole day without access to the iPhone (except for the alarm clock at 6 am) or the IPad. I used the MacBook for writing ‘our story’ and that’s all. It really made a difference.

The one failing, if you can call it that, is I did watch Netflix in the evening (the crown if you must know).

Here’s the link to the video that’s finally got me to follow Tom’s sound advice. Not everyday will be a Tom day, that’s not possible, but I will do full-on detox days sometimes and I will limit my gadget and t’internet access on all days so I can focus on something very important like ….. Writing Manjula and my story.

Lockdown has added values.

See below for original posting on Facebook.

Tom’s Day

Have you seen or heard them on shoulders? The angel or fairy observing one’s every move, whispering ideas, making suggestions, gently guiding, even tut tutting when you’re hovering over the line, the limen between good and evil. Our little friends like the elves are here to give a helping hand and nudge us just when we most need it.

What a lovely gentle positive image.

Well I’ve got someone else, he’s a little fella but with big hefty presence. He sits on my head, sometimes flicking my ears, drumming his fingers on my skull, loudly whispering his thoughts, his key messages, usually something like… get-off the technology, write that story, meditate, eat this and that, eat properly-sit up straight (oh, no that last one was a dad memory).

I love him dearly, my very own Tom Thumb.

So in recognition that we both care and to show I really do listen; I’m designating wednesday of this week Tom’s Day. Its when I’ll try my best to do my best without looking at my Ipad, Iphone, Netflix or Amazon. The only permitted technology on Tom Day will be the lap top JUST for the ‘word processor’ I’ll not access the news, F book, Instagram, the blog thing and I’ll report back on what it was like.

Question: anyone know one of two possible links to the first line?