Now she has passed away – she now is past.
What’s left is memory that dims with time.
And soon this too will pass – it cannot last,
Although we honor her with rite and rhyme.
She fades, she fades – she fades – and then is gone.
Of her, what still remains – what does, what does?
Like the soft dawn she came, like day she shone,
Then evening turned to night – and then she was.
Oh sun of this bright day, may you grow dim, But let me not forget her, who is gone – Gone away forever, leaving those Who knew her, loved her – blank, and woebegone, Bereaved, bereft, bewildered, broken, bare – But still alive – in body, mind, still there, While she is now destroyed – is emptied, drained, Is burnt to ashes, dust – and then cast here, Into this river, born of ice unchained From mountain prisons by this tropic sun – The sun that saw her birth, the sun she loved, With memories still of youth, in every one That’s gathered here, recalled – as ashes, strewn In Ganga’s waters, through my fingers run. Here, she will mingle with the mud, and flow Past fields and palms and forests to that one – That Ocean, with its many, many names…
And as the Brahmin sings the Sanskrit chants,
And I repeat, not knowing what they mean,
There is this thing that each one understands,
Who’re here, assembled, at this ancient scene –
That she, whose name we utter and invoke,
Is gone, where rites and chants can never reach –
In such a slumber now, as never woke
A mortal from, despite what scriptures teach…
Although we claim that these are for her soul,
These rituals truly comfort only those
Who’re still alive – not her, who isn’t whole,
Whose ashes go where this, the river, flows –
To sink, to scatter, into that deep sea,
Never to regather and return, alas,
To rise again with early dawn to be
The woman that she was …was …was.
So each of us will pass, and all regret
Is vain, except that it inform and change
How each may view the other. We forget
That midst this flow, some things will never change…
When you were live, we often did neglect
Your self, who is now past neglect. Remorse
Cannot undo, nor love, too late, repair
The wreckage done. So each must steer his course.
So go then to the sea, and in it dwell;
From it, we all have come, and will return.
I watch your ashes sink within the swell –
And we are left with but your empty urn…
You were a light, that now has fallen dark,
A song, whose lilt we shall not hear again.
In vain, we now will look, and search, and hark;
For you are gone – and free, from all your pain.
Babui (Arjun) Janah 2006 July 1st, Sat. Staten Island, New York. (lightly edited 2015 January 18th, Sun.) In Memoriam Monua Janah 1959-2004