During my travels I had seen literally hundreds of graveyards. Usually
graveyards are somber and somewhat resigned under the weight of death. But this
one was different: besides been well kept - which in itself was not unusual - it was designed more like a garden of life than
a cradle of death. But what set it truly apart was the cheerfulness of its structure.
Its' shady trees and sunny flowers seductively invited me in. Graveyards
were my favorite resting places. It seemed that as soon as one exited a womb,
Maya became a human's sole companion until the gates of a graveyard. Perhaps
it was the absence of Maya in such places that kept my hopes of enlightenment alive.
I had left home when I had turned twenty. Although I didn't know
it then, I had set out to find a place free of illusions. I had traveled to majestic temples, sober ashrams, holy rivers,
renowned sadhus and any other religious place I had been told about, yet my mind was as restless as it was when I had first
started. The holy places and the holy people at these places were among the most devout followers of Maya. After more than
twelve years of searching, I had given up hope and had reluctantly decided to return home and begin a worldly life. It was
on my journey home that I came upon this unusual village graveyard.
Although it was only mid-morning, I gave in to the cry of my aching muscles and entered the graveyard through
a small wooden door. I put down my knapsack and looked at some of the tombstones.
The tombstones entries always reminded me of my transitory place on earth. But this graveyard was full of surprises. There
were three entries on each stone: name of the deceased person, the year of birth and instead of the usual ‘year of death’
the third entry was ‘years of life’. Even more peculiar was that the ‘years of life’ entries were
usually well under twenty. Although it took me all morning, I visited each and every tombstone; and to my utter astonishment,
I could not find any ‘years of life’ over thirty. The most common entry was between ten and twelve. And there
were quite a few with zero years of life. I was a curious person by nature (otherwise I would not have been here) and I had
seen my share of amazing places. But this place truly mystified me.