The corner stone of this project is my late husband Unni, Mr. C.K. Unnikrishnan Nair. He was a planter who joined the erstwhile James- Finlay Company in 1963. He walked the dusty plantation roads where centuries of memories sleep, through the James- Finlay, Tata Finlay, Tata Tea and KDHP days. The journey of his life also took him through most of the tea gardens of India as well as Sri Lanka, Kenya, Bengal, Bangladesh, Ethiopia etc. He passed away on 6th July, 2013. His family, his colleagues and friends remember him as a man who seldom gets hassled by the situations life brings, in work or at home. There was a stillness that nestled in his heart like a sleeping baby, a kind of silence that made those with him relax.
This project is about that baby, dreaming his rosy dreams in that secure space.
What is Stillness? Where does Silence dwell? There is so much noise, both outside and inside us. A writer called Aubrey Menon wrote a book called “The Space Within the Heart”. He tells us about a beautiful cool secret space within all of us, into which one could escape at will. That space is the core of our Being, the calm ocean beyond the heaving, screaming and sputtering waves, Consciousness that has the potential of unlimited expansion. Some would call it God.
Yet the clamour raised by the outside world ever hastening to get in through our senses, keeps rushing into this sanctum tossing us on their mighty waves with no respite. They fill this space with thoughts and emotions pertaining to the past and the future so that the present itself gets obliterated for all practical purposes. Jesus informs that man cannot serve two masters at the same time. In fact the two masters are not God and the Devil, but the Holy space within and the waste man dumps into it. He says ‘Come to me because, my yoke is light and my Lordship is easy.’ Our thoughts enslave us in their web and each thought gives a command of its own, adding to our confusion, making us run around in circles. Our minds are getting continuously stuffed with whatever one can lay hands on, like a huge fridge.
The stuff inside could be putrefying and stinking, yet we keep pushing in more and more into it catalysing the rotting process. The desirable thing would be to throw out some stuff periodically and clean the fridge. But with the fridge we are talking about this is not easy- life situations and people are hovering around for the door to open and jump in. All that can be done is replacement of some of the older stuff with those that will give a little sanity. It is said that meditation aids this process. In fact my brother-in-law who underwent a kidney transplant surgery, one beset with many complications, told me the other day that he knew the trick of shifting his mind elsewhere when great pain was anticipated. Is he a yogi then? No, he is just a determined man who wanted a better life and focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.
My husband did not take time out and meditate at a specific time each day. Having lived half his life in Munnar, the space of stillness was palpably present at all times. He breathed in this place and each breath deposited a bit of these tea gardens in his inner silence. His awareness roamed the misty hills, the cool streams, the rocky crags, wove a magical web connecting ‘all creatures big and small’; he tarried at the white squares of life’s chess-board, gave short-shift to the black ones. He passed through life accepting the prizes time brought–always with a sense of wonder!