Finding more details

B77A0EEE-3E8C-4DC7-B0AD-045C3493C7E4I tracked down Manjula’s neighbours and friends from over eight years ago when she first started working for me.

They couldn’t quite believe it , as manjula was so discreet and personified humility they knew nothing about us setting up Mysore Bed and Breakfast, her managing the cleaners, gardener and drivers, the visits to the U.K., her friends around the world. To top it all, the fact that we’d got married. I was so proud of my beautiful and they were so surprised.

An especially poignant moment was when they’d checked I’d properly created a Hindu funeral and I shared the lovely video of releasing Manjula’s ashes into the river

Sumukh and I will interview them for our story.

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Falling in love again…..

It’s time.

This might sound like self imposed torture, (our initials were S&M!):

-reading through the transcripts created by Vidya from Manjula’s Kannada audio recordings, or

-watching her talking to video camera in English,

-having conversations about my love with Tanu, Satish and Ina with the help of Faizan and Sumukh who are researching and recording.

I miss and don’t want to lose any memories, of course she’s with me and to you my friends it might seem a hard thing to do, even masochistic, it’s very difficult, but it’s also wonderful in the sense that I discover even more about Manjula and fall in love all over again.

Out walking with Lucie I was bushwhacked attacked with sad feelings and tears, as if from nowhere.

Only to arrive back home to be greeted by this….

Hello Stephen, This appeared in my mind when I thought of you and Manjula: “Beautifully she lived and lives in your heart and soul, She sings through the world around you, “Express your love for me by living a kaleidoscopic life” It is written as it appeared to my mind and I felt I wanted to share it with you. Love, Kali

Sweet ….. Sour …… Sad

I’ve experienced an incredible mix of feelings since Manjula set off on her new journey.

It’s sweet because of our wonderful time together, our incredible memories and her presence in my heart

It’s sour as it’s awful losing one’s love and dealing with the hole she leaves

It’s sad as it leaves me stressed, anxious and depressed.

However….

Manjula and I, always looked at things, with a positive view of life….

“Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire”

“I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

by Viktor E Frankl, who knows a thing or two about dealing with horrendous situations.

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On the 21st Manjula will provide meals for the older people at the Ashram we’ve previously supported. We will meet for a celebratory meal at Roopa.

” The soul is neither born,, nor does it ever die; nor having once existed, does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.” Bhagavadgita

It’s been five months now that Manjula’s spirit has left her body. The feelings I’ve shared, from these months, can be found listed on the following two pages. Here and here .

looking for a home

everyone wants a home and needs to feel wanted

a short factly fiction tale, a monologue, written by Stephen, but its NOT him speaking…

………..

Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful, isn’t she precious’…… 

“Stevie Wonder, really got it right…. I feel good.” 

[Stevie Wonder’s ‘isn’t she lovely’ is playing in the background. Our own Stephen is out looking for something, but what?]

“It’s so crowded here and a bit too bright for my liking. It seems very orderly but I reckon that we’re held in a bit too tightly. How am I supposed to get noticed in the midst of all this? How can anyone see me, let alone pick me?

Here, what about me? Hello, Hello……, yes, me! Look here!

What’s your problem? I’m beautiful – obviously, bright – yes, I could just about be a star… reach for me!”

Isn’t she lovely, made from love….life and love are the same’, 

“yes Stevie, take it away. 

Hang on, Who’s this? He looks well meaning, clearly got purpose, we could make it work.

What is he doing? He’s got it completely wrong. No, not her, put her down, what about me? Come on get a grip.

I’m yours for the taking.

Hang on a minute, I’m getting attention from him. Yes, that’s it, pick me up, look me over, no no , you’re tickling. Oh no, now he’s putting me back. What an idiot!

Hey, he’s coming back, let’s look extra special, maybe if I send positive waves, he’ll appreciate my OBVIOUS charms. Yes, He’s looking my way again, picked me up, stroking me, yes, yes, you’re getting it. Now he’s talking to the nice lady, getting out his wallet, yes we’ve got a RESULT…. wonders never cease.

He hands a card over, payment is made, I’m nicely prepared and we’re off. 

Yipeeeeeee.

This is sooooooo exciting.”

I can’t believe what God has done’, 

“back to Stevie Wonder, this is so my song.

I’m with the guy who picked me and I really think I’m about to meet my life’s purpose.

But now I wonder, what will it really be like? I don’t really know this character, can he be trusted? Where does he live? He’s white skinned is that good or bad? Calm down. Peace man. Give him a chance. Less of the anxiety. It’ll be OK, remember those positive waves.

Hang on. there’s another man with him who I hadn’t noticed. I can just about make him out. He looks like Father Christmas, big white beard and belly. Now this is a bit weird. Does that mean, you know, that they’re together? an item? Oh no, that’s not my idea of bliss. I’m not judging others, you’ll understand, it’s each to their own but if I’m moving into their place I need to know the set up. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m modern, I’m fresh, I’m new, I know that gay marriages, partnerships, people living together without getting married are all the rage but I just need time to adjust. 

It’s not what I’d expected. I’d wanted a more traditional thing, I ooze tradition, obviously. OK, OK, Don’t prejudge, let’s calm down and see.

So, where are we now. Back home, I expect. It looks big, difficult to tell as I’m so small. There’s plenty of space, loads of plants, we could make this work even if its not what I expected when I was brought into this world.

Hang on. What do I see, through a crack? There is a woman, Now as Stevie Wonder says I’m lovely but hey this woman is something else, she’s absolutely beautiful. A gorgeous tasty chocolate colour, unlike the pasty white guy. The other guy I now realise, was just a friend. Pheeeew…

Isn’t she lovely…isn’t she wonderful, isn’t she precious’  Stevie Wonder, I imagine, would sing and now there’s two of us!’

I get it now. The first guy who picked me up, and bought me and the woman are clearly together, there is a soft warm vibe that I feel. I’ve always been complemented, by the others, of being ‘in tune’ and understanding the humans.

Yes its happening, he doesn’t hang around. Non of this waiting for the best time, he’s straight at it.

‘Manjula’… he says, then I can’t quite catch the rest…. blah blah blah….get on with it man. blah blah… Wow what a smile she’s got, I’ve got a full view of her now. Now she really is a star. I could get to like her. What did she say? I didn’t quite catch it.

She’s acting very shy, coy even, which is probably not surprising in the circumstances.  

So what was that I heard? 

Yes! 

Spot on, wonderful that’s made my day…  no, my year, my whole life… I hope this means happily ever after. 

…. she’s beaming at me and him, I suppose, and let light into the whole room, Ok I admit, probably accentuated by the fact that my box is now fully open. Whatever, its love all around, I’ve come to a wonderful home. Yeeeeees!

She takes me out of the box, Strokes me. She’s radiant, I really really love this, and her, I’m going to be so happy.

He slips me on her finger. She had said yes, I’m over the moon.

This is absolutely wonderful. I have my very own family.

Life settles down to a sort of normality, a routine. I’ve been her engagement ring now for over two years. I’ve travelled to England (where he is from), been photographed so many times, shown to what seems to be absolutely everyone, mainly foreigners admittedly. I’m not always on her finger, only on special occasions and when she has on her ‘sunday best.’ But it’s then I’m at my best. We were made for each other.

Otherwise I’m placed back in the box or wrapped in a tissue, and tucked away in a warm place in her bra, under her mattress, in the midst of her many many saris or bedside drawer. 

Since that very first day it’s been an absolute joy. This is a very happy house with many people from Mysore and around and from all over the world (whatever that is) constantly coming and going and I’ve even got used to the big black dog.

I had expected a companion, yes a wedding ring but it seems like its not their thing. There was however the crowning glory and yes, eventually TWO YEARS LATER they did get married (twice), so we all had our day of celebrating their love.

Manjula was at her most beautiful, whether at the registry office, in the field, on the Tonga, by the river or for lunch hotel, she beamed like a constant smiling beacon, a lighthouse lighting the way for us all.”

Epilogue

“So what’s happening today? It’s almost four years since their engagement and over a year since they married.  Everything is out of sorts. Manjula’s husband who I now realise is called Stephen or maybe Stevie, but he’s not a wonder! As you will soon see.

Manjula left the house yesterday in the Ambassador car with Stephen her driver. She left me at home so I thought it was maybe one of her regular trips to a clinic or hospital. Its unusual as she’s pretty much been been here constantly for most of the last year and she hasn’t taken me!

So what’s he doing now? Stephen has come back on his own. Well he’s clearly sad and his eyes are wet.

I’m wrapped in tissue paper, I think I’m under the mattress, which he’s lifted.

Hey! I’m here, be careful! Stop whatever you’re doing. Woooooooaah I’m sent flying through the air, roll along the floor and come to rest in the corner of the room. 

The mattress followed by the cot, the bed itself are taken out of the room and outside, what is going on?

Whatever, I’m in the corner of the room and he has no idea that I’m here.

Hey You? Steeeephen,  your klutz.. I’m here. Here in the dark in the corner, under something. Come and pick me up. Please.

I give up. It’s been hours or maybe days I have no way of telling. How will he ever find me?

Hang on someone is coming. It’s not him, Stephen the careless. It’s a woman, not my Manjula.

Here, look this way!

She is scanning and has eagle eyes, finds me, picks me up, I’m up up and away… and puts me in a warm place.

Whatever next?”

Factly Note

My friend Brian, from the UK, and I bought Manjula’s engagement ring at a jewellers in Mysore. On that very day I asked Manjula to marry me. Thankfully she said yes. That was four years ago. We’d been together in one way and another for nine years until she died earlier this year. On the day she died, as part of the Hindu rituals, she was brought home and laid on her bed, that I’d placed outside the house for people to visit, show their love and do the necessary pooja.     

I have no idea if rings can appreciate whats happening to them.

The ring is now lost. I have no idea what happened to it. Maybe it was tucked away under the mattress and I lost it when I lifted the mattress then someone else found it, maybe it was taken in the chaos of that day when people were in and out of our house, I just don’t know. It’s not important now.

I’ll be posting ‘creative’ fiction and Manjula’s own actual story, a memoir, over the next few months on http://www.meandmycycle.com

Stephen

Mysore, July 2019

stephen.Farrell@flourish.co.uk 

 

 

 

Oh no not again 2

Well it’s day two and I’m back at Mysore City Corporation.

To recap, I wish to pay for a bench, now grown to two, to be a memorial for Manjula and sited in the park opposite our house.

I’ve now met the the superintending Engineer Bhaskar and his very able technical assistant Meghana. Who reckon they can give permission once my letter comes from the commissioners office and they create a file.

I don’t know who the lady is sitting down but she proved very useful as she loaned Bhaskar glasses to read my letter.

I await with baited breath.

Oh no, not again.

The officer gestures for me to sit down and a tea immediately appeared, as if by magic.

That’s a good start.

I’m at Mysore City Corporation bringing a letter for the Commissioner. Her PA is the first guy I meet.

“I have a letter for the Commissioner”

“Please do sit down”

“I’d like to introduce my wife and here’s my letter”

I handed him a photo of Manjula and a letter.

‘I’m asking for permission to pay for and site a bench in our local park in memory of my wife who died earlier this year.”

‘That’s not possible”, he declared.

” We’ve never given permission for this as so many people might want to do it. It would have to go to corporators.”

By that he means it’s a council or committee decision

“So it’s not a delegated power?” I asked? “Would it not be possible to get a straightforward policy allowing people to buy a bench, exactly as you already install with simple wording on it?”

I showed him a picture of the park opposite our house which had no benches together with a picture of the benches found in some of their other parks.

He asked me to give the letter in the next office to be passed on to the Commissioner and to go and see the senior engineer.

I did, let’s see what happens.

I had flashbacks to the endlessness of dealing with officialdom for Manjula’s IDs, passport and with the Brits to get her visa. Our preoccupation with health matters, another form of endlessness, we’d had to deal over the past two years had taken its place, so I’d forgotten.

I’ve learned one lesson.

Don’t try and do too much, especially when dealing with government bureaucracy, and have an additional simple little job so that you can still feel you’ve achieved something.

So…..

I also went to pick up a framed picture of Manjula.

Telling Stories

Dear friends,

I’m used to telling stories as a cycle tour guide and as someone who facilitates workshops. I’m told I can be good at it. Writing stories; fiction or otherwise is quite a different matter.

Here are my first attempts, more will follow:

1. The first example is, a Mysore View, posted in June 2019. You can read it here

2. The second, Magic Roundabout, was posted in July 2019 and can be found here

After some feedback I created a revised version of Magic Roundabout, you may wish to go straight here.

3. and here’s yet another one Looking for a home, who is it about?

4. Forever Together …. stars a certain beautiful, smiling woman

please provide feedback to help me learn to improve.

Improving my writing skills is a new challenge and a different way to connect. Learning proper English is a big enough challenge from a guy from Yorkshire! 😉

I want to relay Manjula’s story to a wider audience. It’s part of managing my new situation, keeping going on this rocky path and holding Manjula close to all our hearts.

To try and do Manjula and her story justice I’ll be completing some online training courses and so I invite readers to give critical feedback to help me improve.

Please do feel free to comment.

Thanks

Stephen

Mysore

July 2019

The following appeared elsewhere…..

“Storytelling is the oldest form of entertainment there is. From campfires and pictograms—the Lascaux cave paintings may be as much as twenty thousand years old— to tribal songs and epic ballads passed down from generation to generation, it is one of the most fundamental ways humans have of making sense of the world. No matter how much storytelling formats change, storytelling itself never gets old.

Stories bring us together. We can talk about them and bond over them. They are shared knowledge, shared legend, and shared history; often, they shape our shared future. Stories are so natural that we don’t notice how much they permeate our lives. And stories are on our side: they are meant to delight us, not deceive us—an ever-present form of entertainment.”

From New Yorker 6th July