2009-July-Tathagat and the blessings of community-p1friends, let me introduce you to my friend tathagat.
tathagat and i go way back.
we travelled through europe together in 1990, in a sannyas band called ‘Ah, This!’.
playing music with people is very cool – you end up either loving your band mates, or hating them.
i ended up loving tathagat – along with everyone else in the band.
now we’re scattered all over the planet: swagato (saxophone) is in capo verde, joby (drums/keyboards) runs his own successful recording studio in canada, ravi (kora/guitar/vocals explores the healing realms of ayahuascha ceremonies, homen (percussion) is somewhere in india, satgyan (bass) is still on the road [with prem joshua], tony (drums) is in london, and tathagat (percussion/vocals)...is...well, in the here and now.
tathagat, from brasil, is around 70 years old now.
in his younger days while travelling the world, he eventually settled in germany and worked as a sports teacher.
a few years ago he began to show signs of being spaced out and forgetful.
at first we all thought, ‘oh..that’s just the way tathagat is...’
but as time went on, it became clear he was sick.
he’d actually contracted an illness known as morbus pick, which is condition similar to alzheimers disease, and which also explains why he had become so spaced out.
friends tried to take care of him, but eventually it became clear that he needed 24 hour care.
reluctantly, his best friend and supporter, raji, took the necessary steps to find a ‘home’ where he could receive the attention he needed.
broken hearted at the time (raji remains his greatest supporter), she found a place outside cologne that agreed to take him.
when deva and i were in cologne for a concert we went to visit him in his new ‘home’.
take a look
it was tough for me to see him there, but i consoled myself with the fact that at least he is in a safe environment.
his attention span is pretty much nonexistent, but when i got the guitar out...
tathagat came alive again...
he remembered the words to all the old songs, and even sang the new ones without missing a beat.
and being brasilian, he has a great feel for rhythm – so he accompanied us on a shaker, which in fact was a sugar jar.
his big warm smile was back, and his soft, beautiful voice blended perfectly with devas and mine...
that little kitchen had never heard the likes of the music we made that day...we were touched to tears.
heart was open ... the feeling was good ... we just needed eye contact to keep him with us.
after a few hours of singing, we had to say goodbye.
it wasn’t easy to leave, but tathagat is so in the present, that he showed no sign of being sad.
we hugged, he waved us goodbye, and went back to sit at the table with his ‘ladies’...