Even a smile sheds tears.
Even a smile sheds tears.
Today, exactly four weeks after my beautiful died I’m at the old people’s ashram.
In memory of Manjula we’re gifting all today’s meals. I’ve arrived an hour early so it’s time to chill, remember and reflect and in a very limited way feed my addiction to share with you guys.
Back in Siddarthanagar smileys have appeared on the road, overnight.
Using stencils and water soluble spray paints they are another simple way to discreetly and publically remember and acknowledge.
There’s a fair amount of sweeping goes on at the ashram.
Checking out Manjula
There are just so many….. photos everywhere (Manjula would complain that there were too many but I never believed her)
These are in prominent positions in the house.
This one with lots of her things as part of the pooja on specific days, they’re not always there!
The logo created by Punith.
Article in the Guardian (photo is taken from the article)
The river Kaveri where Manjula said a prayer after our wedding celebration in the field on Srirangaptnam. A tender memory.
Facebook and blog postings, meals at the Ashram for the elderly residents ……. remembered happenings, and most importantly the piece of her that’s in my heart that will always make me smile, ( the T-shirt I gave her in recognition of this and the rosette I made awarding her best maid in Mysore after working for her for one year…. early signs of my love?)
the jokes, the giggles, bossing me around, the hair (she was losing it) I still find in nooks and crannies.
And what about this from Kate who came to stay with us years ago?
A lovely gesture, trees planted by treesthatcount.co.nz in New Zealand in memory of Manjula.
Thanks Kate, love it!
I recognise how difficult it can be to keep track of the mish mash of postings. I’ve therefore put together a sort of index list of the most recent postings about Manjula.
I’ve found it it a real help to share my feelings at this very difficult time, the openness reflects the sort of life we’ve created and the amazing family (yes you) we now have throughout the world. I know its not always easy reading. Your support, feedback and encouragement has been great. Its early days of course to decide what happens next but I may continue to post but in a different way, to bring to you some of the stories of her life that Manjula has shared with me.
So to help you see what I’ve recently posted here’s a list (with links) from March and April, a very very difficult time.
Team Briefing 17th March, link here
This came about as Manjula in a heartfelt way was worried that she couldn’t do any of the things she’d previously done. its her recognising how things were changing and my attempt to help Manjula recognise her continuing value and the priorities in her life. Links with Manjula taking back control on 29th March link here which I wrote a few days after she’d died. its here
Lucky 23rd March link here an old man recognising he’s so fortunate and first announcing the sad news,
Thank you 24th March the statement I made on the Saturday with friends and family gathered to say farewell and a lovely video of her talking to camera here
Manjula captured my heart here’s a graphic of a birthday card I made for her based on some famous graffiti by Banksy, in the original the little girl loses the heart but not in this case! check here
Missing Manjula 1 a couple of examples of friends comments and photos with an appeal to send more examples, its here
I’ve been so touched by the many many many emails, messages, postings from around the world. I’m also not surprised. Sorry but as yet, Ive not managed to reply to everyone and want yo do it personally. Its also proving to be a bit difficult to work out what to do …. There may be Missing Manjula 2 might be a posting or might be a book of highlights!
Do follow to see what happens.
Bereft and Tearful, says it all, reflecting from a Mysore Park and wanting help here
The follow up about continuing Manjula’s creation and how we’d like you to get involved is here please do see if you can help …… by following the blog or coming to be part….
Ashi Vasarjan the ceremony where I immersed Manjula’s ashes in the Kaveri river at Paschivahimi. Great video although some might find it a bit hard. Its here
It’s a hot hot day, Manjula’s brother and his wife come back to Mysore to discuss preparations for the very significant 11th day. It’s not straightforward. details of that meeting are here
The 11th day, here, was itself quite a challenge, its an important event but the dynamic of they only discovering we were married at the Ashi Vasarjan added to the complexity of the situation and wasn’t helped by their attempts to try and get anything of value to sell!! (exactly why Manjula didn’t want us to the tell them about our marriage)
Tender, my true love a few soppy words from a lover here, (What is this man like?) the photo is in our lounge and was decorated with fresh photos every day. There’s now a lovely photo of the beautiful Manjula on each floor with a special sandal wood garland thing.
An important part of the Hindu rituals at this time is to give and offer food. On the 11th day food was offered to Manjula (plenty of meat, its me that was the veggie) as part of the Pooja this food was also taken on to the roof for the birds to eat. That’s symbolic and shows that Manjula has eaten and its part of the process of helping her move on and her spirit finding a new resting place. We also offered food on her behalf, to others by paying for meals at an Ashram, a home for older people, it was lovely and its here.
As you will have noticed there has been tremendous help and support not least from Tom and Amy who flew in from Malaysia when they’d heard about Manjula’s death. They stayed for two weeks and have been incredible support, I couldn’t have managed without them. We first met them when visiting us as guests years ago, they’ve now been here three times this year! Last year Tom filmed our wedding and Amy was the celebrant who created the whole ceremony. Satish, Tanuja and Vasanth have been sorting out the whole series of things we’ve had to and been very tolerant of the English man’s crazy requests. Others have just spontaneously helped such as the team from Royal Mysore Walks (aka Gully Tours) who brought breakfast round one morning. Super there have been some many great was to remember our Manjula.
I love my stick insect and she did get a bit thin with one of her videos showing her character and humour. its here
Manjula has changed me in so many ways, it has well and truly taken me out of my comfort zone now, but it also did challenge me over the last few years of helping her through her illnesses. It cannot in any way detract from our nine years together that has been an illuminating joy. Here’s one take on what I think she has done in creating our home and in becoming my wife. If I can get my head around it and improve my writing I hope to share more of that story. The challenge is to be entertaining and accessible in my writing, erm!
I realise that in the land of ‘nothing ever works as planned’ Manjula has been my golden key, my ‘get out of jail free card’, I’m now alone but check here she’s also been my and others boss, even demanding peaches being brought from the U.K.
This whole awful experience has got me thinking in so many different ways, its a bumpy road with bumps, rocks, pot holes, mental turmoil and the grief we receive as part of the process and ‘choose’ to give ourselves….What about swopping places? gives a bit more insight here
I hope that helps you make sense of what has been posted so you can choose to check through anything you’ve missed and get a more coherent story.
With a little help from our friends we’ll keep Manjula’s creation going.
First, please do stay in touch and continue to read the postings at http://www.meandmycycle.com
Second, if anyone can come stay and look after Luci when I’m away that would be a great help and comfort for her. Possible timings are May, July and September.
Third, come and help out. In return for accommodation and breakfast help me keep the place going.
In my view this is a way to keep our home available, to share with the rich mix of people from around the world and maintain those wonderful connections.
Or ….. of course please do return and invite your friends to come as future guests of Manjula’s at Mysore Bed and Breakfast.
I write and postc this as Tom and Amy say hoagie bartini (see you again) and drive down the road with dogs chasing them away….. after coming to the rescue and supporting me for these past two weeks. Super troopers, thank you so much I couldn’t have managed without you!
and back to you guys….. I look forward to seeing and hearing from you.
Peas and love
Stephen and Luci
What’s this then? Twisted logic, you’ve got to laugh to break away from the tears. An imagined back to the future, reincarnation: Manjula as a 1940s Englishwoman and Stephen as an Indian sailor, mini size with Luci as the boss.
I’m reading a very interesting book recommended by a recent guest: ‘Reinventing Organisations, a guide to creating organisations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness.’ So there! Exactly the sort of thing that’s ‘up my street.’
I’ve just come across a reference to herausforderung a German word that means “being called to grow from the inside out” I like that and I immediately make a connection.
As Manjula shared her story with me (as I plan to with you through this portal/blog thing/website) I became aware of the incredible challenges she had faced as a child and through adulthood. She had shown strength and resilience through thick and thin to be herself and survive.
When we met after our initial stumbling communication with the help of a Vasanth. I provided a pictorial job description to at least get a basic understanding of what I needed, it was also important to me to share something of my approach to life.
I’m not impressed with the deference we find here and she’d been on the receiving end of the extremes of hierarchy and patriarchy as a woman from a poor background with limited education.
I wanted Manjula to understand that I saw everyone as equals, yes we’re different with varied life experiences, different skills and aptitude’s but to me we’re all equal. In a word egalitarian, not a word I could use in this situation but which explains it well.
So it was important we set out on the right footing. She seemed to understood and responded to that.
I firmly believe that the opportunity we were able to jointly create was an example of where she was able to ‘grow from the inside out’ to be herself, fulfil her potential and she did exactly that. She blossomed!
She started with what she knew. Building on years of serving people and their houses. She’d make sure it was clean, the house was spick and span, laundry was done, kitchen was established, amazing meals were prepared. She’d always strive to improve by watching cookery programmes and always trying new things. Then she made it into a home. In some ways a typical Indian place: open, accessible, a hive of activity with a rich mix of people. She’d grown into her role, created the shared open space that is mysore BnB and made it her own with her strength of character and confidence, on the way, learning English, showing astonishing wit and insights, and of course, managed and taught me…. (more later) blossomed, bloomed, and shared her petals around the world.
So what’s next?
Manjula was always keen to give through sharing our home and leaving a little bit of herself when connecting with people. When we got engaged we gave presents such as cycles to the children of drivers in our team.
As part of commemorating Manjula we have sponsored a meal at an Ashram or old people’s home for people who have no other choice and otherwise might be destitute. A neat way for the organisation to raise funds and for us to remember Manjula and her generosity.
It’s something she had specifically mentioned.
So we’ve been to the ashram and arranged to sponsor a meal after the eleventh day, Tom and Amy have also provided lunch on the 23rd (exactly a month after she died) and on the 20th April all the meals will be in her name.
Today was the first of those days. As the residents arrived for lunch the manager explained it was in Manjula’s name and we passed around the photobook of our wedding.
Then the core team went for our own lunch and I shed a tear for my Manjula
Satish ‘the reliable’ aka project manager sorted it out.