Mother Ganga

By | 1 December 2013
From the shores of the holy Ganges

The sadhu squats low on the ghat. Ochre robes lull in your water as he scoops. Three times bending and three times scooping. Just before dawn. Day brings rich paradox. Crowds come alone for their baptism. Others wash, the thwacking of saris wave the boats on. Your gentleness laps destitute steps. The noontide herd of rickshaws and cows approach. There is little room left to honour you. Still men and women bow their offerings in rhythmic genuflection. Still you welcome them, their brass vessels, their minute vibrations and prayers. You welcome too the disoriented strangers with their wonderment in camera bags. It is long after dark now. The smell of flesh tangible from the pyres offering their dead. Red shrouded women and men in white sit upright as the flames contort. And they, the richer are the fortunate ones. You welcome them on their makeshift rafts. You mourn for those left on the ghat. You weep for those too poor for you to carry them on their final journey. Still You welcome.

István Nyári’s poem ‘The Sadu’ begins at home in India and ends with him wondering what he is doing down under. His poem about the strangeness of being in a foreign land resonated with me somehow. I wondered about his name and whether he was born in India. I wondered how he came to be in Australia. But his description of the Ganges was one thing we had in common: I too remembered travelling in India, the strangeness of being in such a deeply spiritual place far away from my home. ‘Mother Ganga’ is my response to the strangeness, the wonder and the commonality.

Return to Story Circle: The Transnational Story Hub and the Inspiraciones Literarias, a chapbook curated by Merlinda Bobis.

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