It is not the people or situations that waltz in and out of your life with not even a simple ‘May I’ that bring happiness, sorrow or the 4th state of consciousness called ‘turiya.’ The catalyst that decides the outcome is your attitudes to the particular time-slice specimen laid out on the slide under the microscope for your study. What is more, your attitude stirs commensurate ripples in the minds of those around you.

Long ago, Unni and I went to Kochi to buy a second hand Ambassador car for my use. We were in Anamallais and the way back was through Sholayar and Malakkipparai. The estate driver was bringing up Unni’s company car behind us while I was driving the new acquisition. Unni sat beside me in the passenger seat. It was about 5 in the evening when we started the climb from Chalakkudi. Soon the forest started closing in on us with its heavy shroud of silence, peppered with the soft sounds of its ‘wise and wonderful’ myriad creatures and plants. Now and then my mind dwelt upon the possibility of the harmony of the atmosphere suddenly getting sheared and torn apart by the trumpeting of a lone elephant. This time around, there were no trumpets or bugles but just a heavy rustling from above the revetment on the right side of the road. The smaller sounds subsided and stood in awe of the new entrant. In a matter of fact voice, Unni said, ‘watch out, there are elephants’. After the initial involuntary reaction of dropping a couple of heart beats, my first thought was to stop the car and let Unni take over the wheel. The idea was firmly discarded because of its obvious stupidity. We inched up slowly. Suddenly after a turn, there he was, standing precipitated at the heart of the mist on the edge of the revetment, a strong silent presence, the soul of the forest! The calm voice from my left said, “Stop the car, do not switch off the engine or the head lights. Do not scare him; he is only trying to cross the road to the other side. Coming down is rather difficult for elephants due to their weight. Just allow him to go.” The elephant did just that. As the animal was crossing the road Unni said in a hushed voice ‘Beauuutiful!’ Then he calmly lit his cigarette.

The other day I was pleasantly surprised when our eldest daughter narrated an experience with her father when she was back from the school hostel for holidays. Sensing that she was upset over something, without getting into the details of the problem or its ramifications, it appears Unni just told her ‘little one, come and lie down beside me, it will go away.’ In over 48 years of our married life, I learned to trust this man’s wisdom and the sense of security his silent presence offered. He never mollycoddled me; on the contrary, he kept making fun of my restless nature. When I am agitated over any issue, it was not in him to calm me down with sweet words. He would just say “Come and sit here beside me, everything will be alright.” And so it would be.

After retirement, we settled down in our house in Cochin. In one corner of the front courtyard, Unni set up a triangular fish pond. Above it, two cherry trees and the fast growing Rangoon creeper provided a green canopy. He would spend long hours sitting in his easy chair under this shade, silently watching the lazy motion of the fishes, the sunlight filtering through the foliage above and throwing gold coins into the water. The whistling schoolboy would add his melody mixing his notes with the harsh chatter of the parakeets on the next tree. Apart from these elite birds there are the lowly crows, not to mention the frog in the pond and the inimitable butterflies that flutter around. Once he got me to sit with him and watch the crow building his nest. He would fly off and bring the twigs. We watched him holding a twig in one hand, observing it from different angles, discarding ones that were judged unsuitable. Unni was thrilled at the crow’s intensity and remarked ‘Look at the master carpenter!’ Unni used to tell me that if I sat with him long enough at this pond he would show me God. I never stayed put long enough but rushed off into the house suddenly remembering some silly domestic chore or the other.

I realise that sitting beside the fish pond Unni got a glimpse into the space within his heart. Like the crow that we watched together, he was discarding from his mind thoughts that diminish a human being and filling that silent space with those that purify it.

In nearly half a century of our life together, I failed to see what I believed to be God. But as Osho says, He does not arrive like a monarch, trumpets blaring, bugles howling. He enters in silence, treading softly through the perfect networking of Nature’s motherboard.

Kochi 21.11.2015