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Brockwood Park - 23rd Entry - 9th October 1973
You went by a narrow-gauge train that stopped at almost every station where vendors of hot coffee and tea, blankets and fruit, sweets and toys, were shouting their wares. Sleep was almost impossible and in the morning all the passengers got into a boat that crossed the shallow waters of the sea to the island. There a train was waiting to take you to the capital, through green country of jungles and palms, tea plantations and villages. It was a pleasant and happy land. By the sea it was hot and humid but in the hills where the tea plantations were it was cool and in the air there was the smell of ancient days, uncrowded and simple. But in the city, as in all cities, there was noise, dirt, the squalor of poverty and the vulgarity of money; in the harbour there were ships from all over the world.
The house was in a secluded part and there was a constant flow of people who came to greet him with garlands and fruit. One day, a man asked if he would like to see a baby elephant and naturally we went to see it. It was about two weeks old and the big mother was nervous and very protective, we were told. The car took us out of town, past the squalor and dirt to a river with brown water, with a village on its bank; tall and heavy trees surrounded it. The big dark mother and the baby were there. He stayed there for several hours till the mother got used to him; he had to be introduced, was allowed to touch her long trunk and to feed her some fruit and sugar cane. The sensitive end of the trunk was asking for more, and apples and bananas went into her wide mouth. The newly-born baby was standing, waving her tiny trunk, between her mother's legs. She was a small replica of her big mother. At last the mother allowed him to touch her baby; its skin was not too rough and its trunk was constantly on the move, much more alive than the rest of it. The mother was watching all the time and her keeper had to reassure her from time to time. It was a playful baby.
The woman came into the small room deeply distressed. Her son was killed in the war: "I loved him very much and he was my only child; he was well-educated and had the promise of great goodness and talent. He was killed and why should it happen to him and to me? There was real affection, love between us. It was such a cruel thing to happen." She was sobbing and there seemed to be no end to her tears. She took his hand and presently she became quiet enough to listen.
We spend so much money on educating our children; we give them so much care; we become deeply attached to them; they fill our lonely lives; in them we find our fulfilment, our sense of continuity. Why are we educated? To become technological machines? To spend our days in labour and die in some accident or with some painful disease? This is the life our culture, our religion, has brought us. Every wife or mother is crying all over the world; war or disease has claimed the son or the husband. Is love attachment? Is it tears and the agony of loss? Is it loneliness and sorrow? Is it self-pity and the pain of separation? If you loved your son, you would see to it that no son was ever killed in a war. There have been thousands of wars, and mothers and wives have never totally denied the ways that lead to war. You will cry in agony and support, unwillingly, the systems that breed war. Love knows no violence.
The man explained why he was separating from his wife. "We married quite young and after a few years things began to go wrong in every way, sexually, mentally, and we seemed so utterly unsuited to each other. We loved each other, though, at the beginning and gradually it is turning into hate; separation has become necessary and the lawyers are seeing to it."
Is love pleasure and the insistence of desire? Is love physical sensation? Is attraction and its fulfilment love? Is it a commodity of thought? A thing put together by an accident of circumstances? Is it of companionship, kindliness and friendship? If any of these take precedence then it is not love. Love is as final as death.
There is a path that goes into the high mountains through woods, meadows and open spaces. And there is a bench before the climb begins and on it an old couple sit, looking down on the sunlit valley; they come there very often. They sit without a word, silently watching the beauty of the earth. They are waiting for death to come. And the path goes on into the snows.