Got wind tonight of the news that a friend of my father’s had passed away this afternoon. His name was Bobot Meru. A photographer as well, he and my dad were in constant communication over the past few days, planning for an exhibit for which they would sell their prints to benefit the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.
He suffered his second stroke and breathed his last en route to the hospital. His wife was with him. Friends online were told a few hours earlier of his hospitalization but were surprised to find that he was no more. The life and force of this exhibit, this movement, this effort to better other’s lives perished in less than an hour. That’s how suddenly Death glides into our constantly changing, ever-moving lives.
One light lost and I understand, finally, the depth of a nation losing thousands more.
I think of the death toll for the storm and catch myself able to function despite the rising numbers. We’ve moved past five thousand and until now, it’s been a statistic to me. Loss often is. We die as easily as others are born–yet here it is, the immense river of loss that flows into the ocean of life.
Earlier this year, I lit this candle and set it off into the Ganges. As soon as it sailed, the child who passed it on pulled my sleeve for 30 rupees. I was shocked. This ritual so solemn of lighting a blessed ball of wax and setting it to sail the waters where India’s people have come to die was stalled by a little girl barely ten years old. I argued pointlessly with her and refused to pay. Life goes on, she seems to have told me. It does, it really does. Meanwhile, the boatman has paddled away. We traversed the expanse of the river.
At a distance, I watched as the tiny light sailed away, following the current. The sun was about to set and all my hopes were pegged on a small strip of foil upon which a light burns brightly into the night.