He returned to find Old Madri fast asleep. He quietly placed the lily on the windowsill next to her bed and waited. When she did not wake within an hour, he returned home for lunch eager to share his new plan with his mother.
Too excited to wait until the next morning’s watering, he returned to Old Madri’s hut immediately after lunch. Again he found her sleeping. When she did not wake in another hour he began to pretend to cough to wake her. This was not successful, so he “accidentally” dropped a water bucket in the kitchen. Again, no movement from Old Madri. Fearing that he might have to wait until the next day to tell her his plan, he began to call her name. No response. He shook her gently. She did not resist. Finally, in desperation, he gave her a great shake.
Nagesh ran home.
As is the custom in Hindu cultures, Old Madri was cremated that very day and her ashes were to be scattered on the Ganges, the holy river.
Since Old Madri had no living relatives, Nagesh was given the honor of spreading the remains. After the priests had prayed, it was customary for the relative or friend spreading the ashes to say a few words. Nagesh had thought all afternoon about the words he would chose. He wanted beautiful words, powerful words, the perfect words.
Now the time had come. He rose from the crowd and with the lily, now in bloom, in one hand, he took Old Madri’s remains from the priest with his other hand. Stepping into the river up to his waist, the water washing the dust from his body and making it shine in the setting sun, he poured the ashes onto the surface of the river. On top of the ashes he placed the one perfect bloom to the plant had offered, turned and watched the ashes and lily float down the Ganges as the sun went down. Words seemed suddenly inadequate.