It was a beautiful land—rolling hills, sensuous, fragrant valleys, exquisite sunsets, white winters, warm summers, scintillating springs and brown ochre romantic autumns. It was a land where love grew in the form of fragrant linden flowers; flowing brooks, singing canaries, jingling bells, nature composed music—as cows grazed in the lush meadows and virginal winds kissed endearingly every blade of grass, every flower in bloom and every leaf of tree.
It was in this fecund land that I was born to my mother. In the nature's nursery here, my childhood was nursed. It was here that I played with squirrels and birds, collected wild flowers, raced with the winds, watched fishes gambol in streams, and learnt my lessons about colours from changing seasons. In winters by the stove, my mother would tell me tales of gypsy kings and her clan and far off lands from where they were forced to flee, many centuries back. That land, she told me was in Asia and called Hindustan. It was a magical land and all gypsy tribes belonged to it. In her haunting, lilting voice, she would sing songs of yore while cooking or putting me to sleep. The songs were about brave kings and wars they fought, about lovers whose love could find no fulfilment, or about the land of ancestors, which overflowed with honey and riches. There was nostalgia, soft pain, and suffering. The tales celebrated the pain for the lost land. The reality of the land existed only in imagination. Imagination fed further imagination over centuries of exile and the land existed more as a feeling, as a thought, as an ideal in the hearts and minds of the people than as a reality out there. The changes in the external world did not affect, the land was safe from all dangers, as it existed inside the people. It was the Shangri La of soul—never ageing or changing. This is what I inherited from my mother—‘what exists inside remains constant, forever fresh, and young.’ Outside, mechanical time brings about physical changes and decay but the spiritual, inner time is forever the same. This is the eternal white lotus of soul. Much later, I would discover the roots of these thoughts in India.
From my mother I learnt to view things in a different magical way. She told that it is not the expanse but the core, the essence of things that we should understand and appreciate. The expanse creates illusions and is the cause of much of unhappiness in the world. The external world must collapse back in our inner kernel of being as a totality, as an infinite iota. We must first learn to open inside—outside will open automatically. My mother and Mother Nature were my teacher, guide, and friend. I would interact with stars as one does with a friend; fairies from my mother’s tales would descend from heavenly heights to play with me, the trees and flowers understood when I would talk to them and in turn I would relish what they told me.