Trees

Manjula wished to be reincarnated as a tree. She wanted to provide cover and and support to people. To me it reflected her strength and gentleness.

The Pongamia tree that Manjula wanted to be, as is the one outside our house.

I was reminded of this after reading a recent brain picking, with reference to a letter from D H Lawrence reflecting his love for trees.

“To walk among trees is to be reminded that although relationships weave the fabric of life, one can only be in relationship — in a forest or a family or a friendship — when firmly planted in the sovereignty of one’s own being, when resolutely reaching for one’s own light.”

That’s so my Manjula. It’s a lesson she leaves me with. As she now waits for me to lift myself from my bed of lethargy and act.

A century ago, Hermann Hesse contemplated how trees model for us this foundation of integrity in his staggeringly beautiful love letter to trees — how they stand lonesome-looking even in a forest, yet “not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche.” Celebrating them as “the most penetrating preachers,” he reverenced the silent fortitude with which “they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves.”

again I’m so reminded of MAnjula, her own strength, independence and gentle kindness.

A Manjula plaque fixed to our tree on her birthday.

“A supreme challenge of human life is reconciling the longing to fulfill ourselves in union, in partnership, in love, with the urgency of fulfilling ourselves according to our own solitary and sovereign laws. Writing at the same time as Hesse, living in exile in the mountains, having barely survived an attack of the deadly Spanish Flu that claimed tens of millions of lives, the polymathic creative force D.H. Lawrence (September 11, 1885–March 2, 1930) took up the question of this divergent longing with great subtlety and splendor of insight in his autobiographically tinted novel Aaron’s Rod (free ebook | public library), rooting the plot’s climactic relationship resolution in a stunning passage about trees.”


The fact is I’m able to find references to Manjula anywhere and everywhere. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

– Amelia Earhart

getting ready for a wedding

It might not be the big glitzy Indian affair but we still have to prepare…..

step one, decide on a location

an island …… check,

a tree ……. check,

a field …… check

we’ve got it all

erm, there’s a lot of water, a stream and paddy fields to cross requiring some nimble steps over a simple bridge (must remember to build one) and balancing on a mud wall. No one said it was going to be easy! but we will work it out.

step two

do a check list, create a ceremony and find a photographer

Tom and Amy first visited us a few years ago and have now been many times and have become part of our family. Its absolutely wonderful that they are here to be part of our celebrations and have critical roles as celebrant and photographer.

An essential aspect of any wedding is a trip to Vasanth’s house for Sumati to do the Henna designs for the ladies

Mike and Sue, who I know for over thirty years were also visiting from the UK. What a wonderful coincidence, given that there hasn’t been any advance planning and they quickly became part of the growing team. They also have the heavy responsibility of representing the whole of the British Isles, especially my sons who  couldn’t get here, but then we didn’t tell them about it…… Ben and Ol, Alice and Poppy, daughter in law and grandaughter and the other very important people in my life such as Liz, aka BIG X.

we decided to have a ‘dara’ a sort of friendship thread with wooden bead, to recognise our coming together and to provide a souvenir for each of our guests.

and finally on the day itself, we’re out on Srirangapatnam Island …

but we needed to make the place a little bit fancy and solve the ‘how to get there problem’. So in answer to the questions from many guests whove visited the famous market: what do they do with all those flowers?

even a simple little ceremony like ours needs plenty of flowers: for the horse, the auto rickshaws, the car (more on that later!) our little patch of land, (we just decorated the tree,) so imagine how much is required for a puka Indian wedding!

and to resolve the other problem: Satish, project manager extraordinaire, brought some planks from his house to build a bridge so that we could get across the stream (aka an irrigation channel)

perfect!

typical Indian planning, where there doesn’t seem to be any, yet it just comes together, nicely.

A Farrell Footnote

The full set of photos taken mainly by Tom are here

Dire Straits

P1030920
Manjula, Kamalama, and Manjula’s mum Parvatamma

Manjula is just back with more info about Kamalama’s situation. The first story was most accurate. The one about family illness was a cover story.

Kamalama has effectively run away to Coorg, where she’s from, the area of the western Ghats a few hours away.

It seems that there was an argument and some sort of fracas with her son’s ‘wife’. The upshot is that the ‘wife’ threatened to come round with her main husband and kill Kamalama later that day. So she’s done a runner. Can’t blame her but what a terrible situation for an elderly lady.

Farrell Factoid

the wife has a range of ‘husbands’ that she flits between.

I’m not saying this sort of violence is usual or the complex inter-relationships is common but I’ve heard of similar situations.

Kamalama’s son re-appeared a few years ago and she was happy they had re-established contact. She lives a simple life, has a small house and works as cleaner, washing clothes etc at various houses. We think she’s is in her 60’s. It’s difficult to know what if anything we can do.