Well it’s been a while. I’ve been, for the most part, uninspired. I took this time to do some reading and then it all started coming back. This one is being posted as part of the Superstition and Folklore Chronicles, however, it’s not exactly superstition, it’s more tradition and culture.

For Hindus, Pitr Paksh (the fortnight of ancestors) started last week. During this time, we pay homage to our ancestors. It is said that the souls of our ancestors, I believe it’s the three preceding generations reside in the realm between heaven and earth. This realm is called pitru-lok and is ruled by Yama, the God of death. During this fortnight, there is a connection with past loved ones as they are remembered and treated with honour. It’s much more complex than this and to explain it fully would require me to read and study the whole Garuda Purana. This is a book which breaks down, step by step, the journey of the soul from death to the unity with God.

I remember being at home back in Trinidad and hearing stories of past uncles, aunts, grandparents and even my father being present at the home. For Hindus, as far as I know and I’ve seen, when a body is brought back to the home, it is taken inside the house for the last time thus making the ancestral home the last earthly place the soul will ever be before it has to move on. I remember also the familiar scents of that person wafting before my nose, the footsteps, the creak on the floor boards, a sigh and the brush of a hand over my forehead as the curtains float above the floor with the wind.

Below is a poem that I’d written when I was seventeen, for want of something better to do. It must have been around this time too. It’s a more playful approach to the walking of spirits amongst the living.

 



Spirit Games

Night pushes the day away

And the stars wink and blink

The sleepiness out of their tiny eyes

The moon, she will not reveal her

Full beauty tonight

She’s a real tease

I daresay.

Fireflies glow bright

Like flying Christmas lights

While the mosquitoes

Buzz and bite away

I shall not stay outside

But go in and try to hide

From the spirits

That come out to play.

They blow out the candles

And turn the door handles

While making funny noises and sounds

And someone once said

They can wake up the dead

And imitate the cries of hounds

They rattle my windows

And tweak my dog’s nose

Making him bark like mad

But I still won’t go out

And quarrel or shout

At those spirits who are so very bad

I hear soft whispers and laughing

And whistling and tramping

All around the house

Knocks on the door

Creaks from the floor

I don’t think those were made

By a mouse!

And then it gets quiet

So very, very quiet

My heartbeat I’m sure I can hear

I uncover my head

And rise up from my bed

And take a deep breath to

Smother my fear

I pull the curtains aside

And open the windows wide

To see what they’re up to

But there was nothing I could see

But the half naked moon, stars winking at me

 And spirits that had nothing to do.

So bearing in mind

That the good Lord was kind

Enough to keep me from harm

I jumped back into bed

And slept like the dead

Until dawn wrapped me up

In its arm.