Raspberries

Julie BeloussowLife

I was in India when I dreamt of you. The sky was soft and tinted with the blushing pink of a sunset, dome-like it arced high above us, a vaulted cathedral.

We were on a grassy hill, verdant and lush under the passing shade of buoyant, pearlescent clouds. We were picking raspberries. Simple, sweet, and happy. The color of the berries stood out so clearly, little pops of saturation, practically glowing against the green bushes. We were laughing, racing, filling our woven baskets. You were filled with joy, beaming, fulfilled and that joy filled me too.

The air was clear and everything felt abundant, open, free.

Could there be anything more innocent?

I woke up.

I didn’t stir, simply opened my eyes.

Shoddy motorbikes passed by in the dead of night on the rutted road. Their shaky beams of warm light fractured the darkness of my paltry, 300-rupee room. Beeping still, despite the late hour. Something nearby was dripping a gentle pip pip pip. Voices of men speaking a language I do not know drifted in from somewhere down the road. I laid there, breathing in the humidity, watching the lights come and go, listening to the pip pip pip. Calm, but sad.

Just another dream to add to the collection.

I don’t know where it went wrong. I can’t pinpoint a single moment where I can say definitively, “Yes, this is what happened.” It wasn’t like that, it was more like a decay, words and actions that gradually built up like a bristling mold eating away our violaceous raspberries.

That mold spread, it ate at the color of my soul and you slipped away like granules of sand.

It’s cheesy, I know, but you left a void in my heart. Resentment filled it for a short while – I erased you from where I could. This didn’t help, and slowly I emptied myself of it.

A heavy sigh, a Release.

But the original hurt still remained.

It wasn’t until my last month in India I was able to find a some peace. Surrounded by tall pines and Rhododendron in the lower Himalayas, at the seat of the Tibetan government in exile. It was here I imagined you, seated in front of me upon a plump, saffron-colored cushion like my own. Your face was lined with subtle pain, though your posture perfect.

As instructed, I watched as a thick, black smoke filled you. Your face darkened, and your pain increased. It began in your core and edged to your fingers and toes, it clouded your mind and your eyes. It seeped heavy from your lips like molten metal. I felt it pain you and when it reached its apex I breathed in three even breaths, drawing out the smoke with each inhale until it appeared before me, between us.

With one final inhale I took it within myself. There it became a hard, dark mass of obsidian. With the clear, focused mind that rang out like thunder while real thunder rumbled outside the Gompa, I struck the rock with a bolt, shattered it into a thousand black shards. Light filled me, I directed it like water and let it flow from
me to you. Your face had changed, relaxed.

May you be happy, may you be free of suffering, may you be fulfilled.” I breathed.

And with that, you left me. Instead of hurt this time, your departure filled me with peace. I welled up, I cried all the frustration, pain, and every roiling drop of residual resentment out of my heart right there on the floor, among many others from all over the world who were doing the same.

When the tears had passed, I felt lighter. A feeling of ease to the suffering which plagued my psyche for so long washed over me.

Rain was beginning to fall from the cloud-cloaked sky when the sound to finish our meditation rang. A precise and gentle strike upon a singing bowl. Harmonic, clear, and level.

May I too be happy, free of suffering, and fulfilled.