Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kashmiris in Brooklyn

As I sit in my beautiful loft which was converted from a Catholic School into a condominium five years ago in the Southern Slope of Brooklyn, I load my iTunes with the South Indian ragas of L Subramanimam. From the first time I heard Indian music while studying at California Institute of the Arts in the late eighties, the raga has always represented, for me, a way to gather my thoughts, relax and meditate. And so I find myself, twenty years later, doing the same on a different coast, not as a student, but as a professional, a mother and a wife to the same man I fell in love with in College.

This time of year, one would expect to hear Christmas music coming from the stereo, and, many times this week it has. However, as we near the final week before December 25th, and the final two weeks before the end of the year, my thoughts turn to those generous, magical and musical souls that we have lost in recent years.

Two years ago the planet lost, among others, Daniel Morris, a young man in his late thirties, to a complicated series of illnesses. Dan was, among many things, the drummer in my husband, James Carney’s group for years and had recorded on some of his albums. He had attended California Institute of the Arts after us, had studied South Indian drumming and had lived in South India in the nineties for a year while studying with his guru. Dan enjoyed his trip to India and, in later years, would speak of it often. Upon his return he brought my husband and I two Kashmiri shawls. He explained one was for me, the red/pink one, and one for Jim, the green one. Some time later, as we were re-finishing our house, and preparing for the birth of our first child - I put them in our cedar chest for safe keeping.

After fourteen years, a move across the country and two years after Dan’s passing, the South Indian Kashmiri shawls have found their way out of the cedar chest and into my winter wardrobe. This week in the frigid cold seedlings of winter, I have found that if I wrap my head with the scarf and throw the rest of it over my shoulder, I do not need a hat. I feel somehow that wearing the Kashmiri’s in order to keep myself warm, not only honors the loss of Dan and others this time of year, but it also helps to keep the innate sadness at bay, the feeling of loss that always overwhelms me this time of year.

While moving forward into 2010, I would like to honor those who are no longer here, and send a message of hope, warmth, solace, and peace as the planet prepares to transition to another year. If you happen to see me walking down the street wrapped tightly in a red or green Kashmiri scarf, please say hello and pass on the message of hope, warmth and love.

An abbreviated listing of those glorious souls gone too soon:

William Chester Bayer d. 1987
John Charles Carney d. 2006
Hilary Case Ake d. 2006
Daniel Morris d. 2007
Lily Burk d. 2009

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