by Quincy Godwin
Hinduism is a particularly charming way of explaining the way our heads are put together, and how our souls have found these bodies made of star corpses that we carry through the plane of existence with a ball of dirt as our vehicle and the cosmos our byway. Hindu’s are the essence of India, filling it with radical exhibits of life and accentuating its weirdness. I found a magnetism about this religion and the people who’ve laid it as the foundation of their days – it captivated me with its bold approach to benevolence. I found myself asking everyone with their 3rd eye marked about its history, testimonies, and anecdotes. As I found out more about it I found that the emphasis put on the importance of family within its philosophy has caused me to reexamine some things in my own life.
One story belonging to these that I received from an especially zealous young Ukrainian woman on the train from Delhi to Agra, (who I found out was actually a publisher of Hindu texts in Sanskrit and Ukrainian) was about a boy named Shravan. This dude’s parents told him that they wished to visit forty places of pilgrimage in their old age as to purify their souls. Without the means to afford transportation for them, Shravan put each parent in a basket and tied them to the ends of a bamboo pole, which he hoisted upon his shoulders, and thus the pilgrimage began. He carried his parents throughout the world.
This story punched a hole in my chest. I pondered…
What the hell have I done for my parents? Have I even justified them having birthed and raised me? I’ve certainly had opportunities to give back, but have I? Would my back break from lack of use if I attempted to carry them now?
I admit with heavy reluctance that I wish I’d done much more and much better with the time I’ve had. Reading about M K Gandhi’s humble service and unhesitating honesty regarding his parents in his autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” further nourished my laments. Even in childhood M K Gandhi showed greatness by being a spotless example of what a son should be for his parents.
Being away from them for some time now and having gained a lot of perspective on the situation I left behind, I see that there’s a lot of regret to be had. I regret every time that I didn’t do as they said, every time my trust in their competence or benevolent will for me faltered. They were right in every respect that I couldn’t see at the time. I regret every meal that I didn’t eat with them at the dinner table, and every time I took all that they did for me for granted – it digs at me that I’m still ignorant to how much that is, and that they’re ignorant to how eager I am to appreciate their efforts.
But through a different lens I have carried my parents. I actually brought them here to India with me. I carry them, not in a yoke on my back, but in a colorful cardboard sleeve. I take them out, blow the dust off, place them carefully on the turntable, and wait for the cue to drop the needle.
A difficult decision arises – that’s the signal to begin.
“Use everything you have and keep your eyes open, son,” says Dad.
I’m walking down a seedy street at night when track 2 starts – this one’s called ‘Leave Your Money at Home and a Knife in Your Back Pocket’ by Dad. Sometimes I sit and listen to Dad all the way through, from the overplayed singles like ‘Behave Yourself’ to the deep tracks like ‘Money and Budgeting’, ‘Outdoor Survival’, and ‘The Important Things in Life.’
When I’m getting bored with the routine I’ve established and decide it’s time for a night out I flip the split to Side B and hear Mom make sure I’m using my time wisely. Again I go through the tracklist:
Health and Hygeine – Mom
Take Your Medicine – Mom ft. Lynny
Be Careful – Mom
Wash Your Clothes – Mom
And my favorite one of all: We Believe in You – Mom & Dad ft. the Entire Family
Every once in a while it seems like the record breaks because the same phrase or lesson is repeated over and over then over again, but I’ve learned that this is just the particular aesthetic of the artists as to achieve a particular effect on the listener.
Sometimes with no prompting at all the needle drops itself and their dialogue stubbornly situates itself in my ear demanding thoughtfulness and practicality.
Within this vessel of my mind, from whence the playback of my parents’ words emanate, I carry them.
But is that true?
I cannot honestly think that I carry them if it’s no real burden to me, can I? I cannot say that I carry them if they bear no weight but make me lighter instead.
Does an eagle carry his own wings?
Here I stand still, halfway through my journey; looking forward at the way to go, back at the way I came – at the beauty of it all. I wonder. Who was it that cut this path for me? Who was it that put boots on my feet and then gave me the strength to lift them? Not nearly enough – to walk with them? Ha! To run with them! To climb mountains with them! To tread on any naysayer that says, “Life is limited, boy!”
I feel the fire pumping through the chambers of my heart burning me alive and replacing my obstacles with rubble and ash, but who is the arsonist?
This is who: My beautiful mother. My hard working father. The ones I love the most. These are the culprits. These two made me – everything I am, everything I can be and I wish now to publicly state, (but never publicly enough) that I love them for it. I know not all the endeavors of sacrifice taken by them for my sake but I need not to be sure that I owe them everything.
This is my experiment with truth: as much as I wish to be like M K Gandhi, with his inexhaustible reverence to the ones that provided his life – as much as I wish to be like Shravan who devoted himself fully to the service of his parents by carrying them across the world, I know surely that I am not.
For how can I say that I carry my parents when they are the ones that carry me?
I love you, Mom and Dad. I am nothing without you.