We were a small gathering coming to see you, half a dozen friends in addition to the two monks and us two.
I did not know if it were possible or how it would work inviting the two monks who overlapped your life to both give blessing at the ceremony.
‘No problem’, both of them said independently.
So it was both a Therevadan – Reverend Kumar from Ananda Kuti – and a Mahayana – Shashi Dhoj Tulachan from Chhairo Gompa, who led the blessing.
Kumar, I’d forgotten, had officiated at the ordination of your wife, Amita, in place of Amrit Ananda who was away at the time, and his young face is clear beside Sugata’s at his own ordination.
We all arrived late. The full moon festival together with another festival, together with Kathmandus famous traffic jam, meant the ring road traffic was at a standstill. Our taxi dropped far from Swayambhu; we weaved through the pilgrims, climbing the Swayambhu stairs at a strong pace, until out of breath at the top, and with our end in sight, we rested before descending to Ananda Kuti. ‘It wakes up in us some energy’, says Gunilla.
Sumitra and Anita, Thirta’s daughters, the first to arrive, Anita efficiently organising with Dharmamurti two chairs for the monks and a carpet for us. Fr Greg (Sharkey) was the last to fight his way through traffic and pilgrims, arrived, gamely, down the grassy hill the unconventional way. Giri, looking very dapper in a grey suit, translated the words of both monks for the benefit of Gunilla and I. Shashi and his faithful brother. Bharat, heavy with cold, and Bhim, our Anapurana trek organisers and good friends these last 8 years.
Both spoke of how they knew Sugata, his long life. Both ended with their traditional chant.
‘So many verses, I wondered if it was one for each of Sugata’s years!’, observed Gunilla of Shashis’ Tibetan chant.
Gunilla and I scattered the ashes around both the grave of Amita and the Bodhi tree. Shashi respectfully took a small quantity of the ash, enough to press into a tablet, to take up and leave at Chhairo Gompa.
The matter was done.
‘You know, I could imagine living here’, said Gunilla enjoying the playful spirit of our waiter at Kilroys, as we celebrated with an Everest beer that evening.