My article on macatia coco1 seems to have touched many a chord. Amongst others, I received a very nice season’s greetings card from a kindly soul who even gave me a clue as to where I could probably get genuine macatia coco, at La Chaussee, and I will certainly try this out in due course, when this torrid heat season has passed.
Enclosed also were some sublime thoughts that were shared with me, penned down in simple but exquisite verse many moons ago. But they are for all times, and echoed perfectly my feelings and those of my fellow walkers as we encountered the dawn of the New Year at Trou-0-Cerfs:
Of the dawn
And its worship
Of the penetrating sun rays,
The light from up above.
Of the songs of birds
On the swinging branches
Of the trees green and everlasting,
The perpetual reminder
of the essence of life.
Indeed, almost every morning at the crater the cool wind that caresses our faces and the greenery that surrounds us are a reminder not only of the ‘essence of life’, but also that we are an integral part of the living. Whenever I have thought about what I would have liked to be if I were not a human, I have opted for a tree or a bird – say a paille-en-queue: that’s what I felt when I and my Sunday walker friends of the days gone by once sat at the rim of the Sept Cascades gorges admiring the vast expanse in front of us and watching several paille-en-queues glide. Oh! that I were one of them, I recall telling myself. And on many an occasion at the same place, I saw this majestic tree standing tall from the flank of the gorges, its thick, luscious and shiny green foliage fluttering in the gentle breeze, and I had a similar call inside ! – oh that I were that tree!
The year was 1969, and I had completed my fourth year medical examinations. I took a break and visited my late cousin who was studying in Benares. To the north of the city is Sarnath, a deer park where Buddha preached his first sermon after he had obtained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. In this sprawling park one memorable morning I sat under a tree, soaking in the soft light of the morning sun in absolute silence even as my eyes feasted on the dew-covered grass that stretched all around me. Whether with one’s eyes closed or open, there is only one, a unique feel: I am part of this, this is life… And thus these thoughts for ever Of the dawn…
Elsewhere terrorists were still busy snuffing innocent lives throughout this festive season, and we thought how lucky we were in our little island – but for how long more? – that its people had started the New Year without any major setback, save of course some of the road accidents which take place despite accrued vigilance by the police around this period. As the saying goes, blessed was it in that dawn to be alive, and we can only pray that all the people in the world could say the same. But we understand, with sadness in our hearts, that this dream may be very far away for many.
Many people make resolutions for the coming year, and hope is renewed for the fulfillment of previously unfulfilled ones. I did not make any myself this year, having passed the prime for this sort of thing. For most of us senior citizens, the best thing is a continuation of the more or less smooth routine that we have settled into. We do not need any highs, any greatly exciting things to happen to us. We are happy when those we love, children and other loved ones, are happy enjoying, laughing, joking, sharing good fare without excesses – we keep cautioning them! – and that is what is most important for us.
I remember a time when the ladies of the house would first feed dinner to all the men folk and the children, and then only would themselves sit down to have their food, or whatever was left for them – because at times the quantities were not sufficient. Fortunately this is no longer the case; in fact it’s quite the opposite, and we have to teach restraint.
So really, for practically everybody that I have come across the new year has started well, and after the long weekend of festivities – which, Mauritian custom oblige, will stretch awhile still, people have gone back to their activities in dare I say relatively good mood, or at least I hope so. For those who haven’t, well what else can we say but cheer up!
There is reason enough to cheer and to celebrate about life, in our lives. Pity that this beautiful side of it gets lost from the sight and the mind of many who have a warped, even perverted view of what life is all about, and think that there’s a better afterlife that awaits, one that nobody has ever seen let alone experienced.
For us, though, let us put our faith in and take into our beings ‘The light from up above’ for, if we exist, it is because of that light. What more is there to ask for?
1Macatia Coco Is No Longer What It used To Be – MT 24 December 2015
* Published in print edition on 15 January 2016