Salt Water Baths

| 2 minute read | on the cleansing quietness of empathy

I sit across him
this longstanding widower, and now grieving father twice over

We talk about the brief arc of every life
the certain end to all its aches

He takes me to a room
shows me a 3D printer under assembly by his son
before he drowned while swimming in the canal two weeks ago

He had offered to sell their small home
and help him raise a further loan
for his plans to travel overseas for post graduate studies

His son demurred
went through the Indian competitive exam filter
crossed only by the tenacious and hungry
and secured a seat at a city university

Was on a paid internship at a local firm
drawn by his promise
to help them design and build a prototype

He was hoping to see him married soon
to revive and rebuild their constricted family

His sorrow expands to engulf me


Walking across the shop floor
filled with men grinding at weld seams
rigging shells into place, with a crane hook lingering near
a swinging hammer and a steady lug

He was a cog in a wheel in constant motion
nearing retirement, approaching the terminus of his productive life

In the kinetic activity of an assembled crowd
what escapes us is
that each one of us hold in the hovering grasp of our hearts
our own private fears and tragedies

Like a permanent juxtaposition

The path of our immersive vocations and fickle destinies
colliding, intermingling
wiping their traces onto each other

Erasing half of who we are
~ the unseen vulnerability, the unsaid lament ~
to arm ourselves with what is functional


On an evening like this I stop to mourn
over all that I am afraid of
before my heart is entirely forgotten
by the tug of more quotidian matters

I return home and bathe in salt water
listen to ‘Om Mane Padme Hum’
and embrace my quietness
where every remorse is allowed to surface
from a dream awash with hope and expectations
from an ocean bed littered with human restraint

for a breath of air and a touch of light

An ephemeral balance
where being free and uncertain
can sit beside each other like old friends
acknowledge that both belong
as an aspect
of this moment

Inexorably steadied
by the salt on my skin
and a comforting hum
that submerges me


This stemmed from an encounter with a colleague’s grief, an acknowledgement of the heart often being obscured in the ordinary course of our days and an abiding in the quietness that arises from a deeply felt empathy

39 thoughts on “Salt Water Baths

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    1. Anand,this was very touching!

      Again you have weilded the pen and displayed your amazing talent..

      Your writing style, your vocabulary and your imagery is superb.
      It is definitely a gift you have.

      Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing story.

      Your empathy and compassion is visible and extremely touching.
      All the best


  1. Heartfelt words kind sir. To stand in that moment where we can actually feel that grief in another, that ‘knowing’ of its pain but stand speechless…only able to give that love and empathy within to them by a touch or a hug, for no words can heal it…as it has taken away the ability to hear this world for a time, so that they can finally, truthfully hear their own heart beating ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very well done Ananda! I love your stripped down phrases. No unneeded words. “Just the facts man.” I sense no false sentimentality, just a feeling of worth for the human experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Expectation and remorse are forever partners. We as individuals forget in our pursuits of belonging and fulfilling relations that each has come with their own time and destiny. The unknown cannot be termed as unexpected as it was never promised or dictated. I feel the pan and humility in your words, Anand. It’s difficult to recover from loss and move on. I wish you and everyone much peace and acceptance. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts and words. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I greatly admire this work. We live in a bittersweet universe where nothing is permanent, and nothing is as we imagine. Our length of stay is always uncertain, and this alone lends tension and if experienced directly, sadness. You are a wordsmith and have the capability to express the heart of sadness. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ah Ananda. I read this before getting out of bed and brought my own salt water to the sunrise.
    We are such fragile beings. Nisargadatta Maharaj reminds me of the limitless causes, but still I weep and hope to see more broadly one day, with the eyes of the Absolute.
    Gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “An ephemeral balance
    where being free and uncertain
    can sit beside each other like old friends
    acknowledge that both belong
    as an aspect
    of this moment.”

    So wise and true dear Ananda.
    This shining moment embraces all, without preference.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Anand. Thank you for the post. I think it was really well written. Every life gone diminishes me a little, yet gets me in touch with the transient reality of human existence. So i put my head at the feet of the Lord and say you know what is best for me. To cleanse my soul and take me towards salvation


  8. Quotidian matters are a blessing, which one uses like a boat to navigate the surface waters of life, the oars pushing inexorable Time. But below are the layered depths of memories, damped down emotions and fears. Once in a while one dives deep down, to visit a fellow being, and confront shards of our own, swirling there.
    A poignant piece, Anand! Very evocative with your signature light, deft touch!


  9. Another beautifully expressed poem. I think it is often an honor to share the grief of another. It offers an opportunity for each of us to open our hearts and step from the mundane into the divine connection we have with each other and with all things. Thank you for sharing this.


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