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  • Strong summer winds used to blow in the those lazy afternoons and bring with it a bunch of dead butterflies. Butterflies of different colors and shapes. Little, poor, dead butterflies. My brother and I had a solution for this mass of dead bodies. We used to pick up each butterfly and bury it in a tiny grave that we would create for them. Burial was a solemn process. We did this in every summer school vacation.

    First dig a tiny pit a few inches wide, layer it with salt (I don't remember why we did that , may be someone told us to ..there must have been an important reason but i can't remember now), then layer it with tiny flowers, lay the dead butterfly in this grave, cover the grave with mud and put more flowers on it and finally stick a cross on the grave (we are Hindus, so I am not sure why we put a cross on the graves, I think that idea must have come from some movies we had seen, also no one objected to this burial ritual except our gardener who used to pick out such graves and clear up the garden for the flower beds amidst huge protests from me and my brother ) , shut eyes for a few seconds and pray that the soul of the dead butterfly rests in peace.

    I remember having a 'serious' conversation with my mother on why we should be allowed to continue sending these poor souls to heaven in this way and why we can't let them lie unattended here and there in the garden. Finally, as a result of this discussion we were given a part of the garden as a cemetery. We could create as many graves as we wanted and send as many dead butterflies to heaven as we wanted!

    I remember feeling deep sadness and also a sense of responsibility while caring for these poor, battered, dead butterflies. As a child the sorrow of seeing a dead butterfly was huge and then the task of burial was even more heart wrenching. I remember seeing cocoons in the garden and waiting for the butterflies to emerge.

    Life is so ephemeral , precious and that lesson came to my brother and I from our parents - who let us observe , be part of nature and open our hearts to all life forms.
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