As I lit my father’s funeral pyre and watched the flames consume his body, the priest handed me a long bamboo pole. To puncture the skull. To release his spirit, he said, but also the skull has a tendency to explode..
And then the unthinkable happened. The wood fell away and I watched as the exposed white fatty tissue of the brain began to bubble and melt in the intense heat. I called my sister to watch with me. Is this where my father resided, I asked ? In this piece of tissue ? Is this where his mind existed ? The mind of one of the best known peadraticians in India ? Is this where his passion, compassion and warmth for all the little children who’s life he devoted to saving existed ? Excuse me for not using the word soul, though I am so tempted to.
And is this where his love for his own children existed ? For me and you ? And with the brain extinguishing into flames, does that love no longer exist ?
And what about me ? Is that who I oved really ? That brain ? Was that the sum total of my father ?
Or is the truth something else. That the mind does not reside in the brain. That emotions do not reside in the mind. That that which we call love and memory and emotion exists in a realm beyond the physical body. More then just synapses of neurons that express themselves through chemical reactions