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jeudi 26 juillet 2012


When I was adopted into an Indian family, C, a brother began joking about it. I tried my best to stop this adoption, but now I have to accept that you are my brother. We have all sorts of Christians in this family, and now we have also a Jew..
Joking is a stabilizer in relationships in the Indian world. Relationships are considered so important that it brings in a certain morality to ones behaviour. When you are adopted into an Indian family, all of a sudden you inherit a whole universe, cousins do not exist but only brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces and your world expands along with its responsibility.
His oldest brother and thus my brother as well, was a leader of the Native American Church and well respected man in the community. A sudden and short illness carried him away to the other side.
It is time for us to mourn him. 
Today on the way to the hall where the four day long ceremonies are held, I glanced at the rolling green hills, in the foreground plump corn plants with emerald green leaves and trees standing guard in between the fields. I thought to myself, my Elder brother has seen these seasons for every year of his life, the scene I am looking at, he had looked at it many more times than I have. He is gone but his sight of these plants and trees are left behind for us to connect with him. I felt a new respect for the plants and the trees, they are guardian soldiers of the mother earth which looks at all of us with sympathy and pity. They are able to witness our frailties, our growing old, our crossing to the other world, laugh at our changing moods and judge whether we are good human beings or not. As an Indian said, they are our one legged family members..
I looked at my older brother lying there, life and heat drained from his hands. I said to him, have a nice journey dear brother and have pity on us who are left behind, struggling to understand what is happening.
The Indians spend four nights with the departed, giving every one to express the sorrow, privately and publicly, pray and conduct ceremonies. The Jews sit shiva for seven days and the house is protected with covering, the mirrors and the furniture, so that it does not give the idea for the departing soul, for wanting to linger on. Indians also cover the mirrors, but someone said, we don't know why but when there is thunder, we cover the mirrors also. The last cultural belief runs across race and continents since similar beliefs exist in central and south America as well as Africa.  Jews also refrain from public display of joy and pleasure and families might do that for an entire year, also they stand up at the synagogue during the recital of the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead.
This Shabbat, I will say Kaddish for my older Indian brother. I still mourn for two of my professors, Dr Cecil Helman and Dr Joel Glaser.
It is nice to remember, because that is how their lives on this earth are kept alive, until each and every one who remembered them also have died