In Memory of Phiroz
By Robert Mehta
The town of Stroud is the focus of five steep valleys and five hills at the western end of the Cotswolds. Rivers flow down these valleys eventually to join up with the River Severn.
We live on the ridge of the hill opposite to the main valley of the Severn, and on a clear day we can see right across the distant river into Wales. Many houses on these steep little hills are built into the banks, and the gardens are often on a slope or made up of several terraces.
We are lucky enough to have an almost flat garden with only a very gentle slope. The lawn at the back of the house, on which we have mown a replica of the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth, is at a lower level than the rest by a few feet, and there is a retaining wall of honey-coloured local stone between these two levels. About six years ago I rebuilt the far end of this wall where it meets another retaining wall at the bottom of the garden. When I did this, for no apparent reason at the time, I left one little niche in the wall about two inches wide between two stones about two feet above the ground. When my father died in May 1994, we decided to bury his ashes in the narrow flower bed next to this rebuilt wall almost directly below the little niche. A friend, who had often visited Phiroz with me when he was in the nursing home at Brookthorpe, came to the little ceremony we performed when burying Phiroz’s ashes. He said he had a little wooden Buddha which might just fit into the little niche. He gave it to me, and sure enough it fitted in exactly! So Phiroz now has the little wooden Buddha above his ashes.
We planted a small fig tree to commemorate the spot along with some other fruit trees along the retaining wall, and in the far corner at the end of the wall is a flourishing bay tree which came in its infancy from “Dilkusha”, my parents’ house in London. Some of my mother’s ashes are buried in our front garden, the rest having been scattered in the garden at “Dilkusha”. Our house is well set back from the road, and we have three tall evergreen trees in the front garden, including a Brazilian pine or monkey puzzle tree, and nesting in one of these for the last three years or so has been a pair of beautiful ring doves.
The little fig tree is growing very well, and the crop of ripe edible figs expanded from one in 1997 to seven in 1998. Fig trees are very interesting insomuch as they don’t seem to produce any obvious flowers and the figs grow straight out of the branches. Perhaps we can think of the figs with their multitude of seeds as symbolic of the “sustenance” which Phiroz gave to so many people. There also appeared in 1996, on the same spot where his ashes are, three stalks of wheat, two of which I still have in a bottle on the kitchen windowsill.
So the memory of my father lives on at this special spot and continues to create its own abundance.
When I buried Phiroz’s ashes on Sunday, January 8th, 1995, I recited the following words:
In the presence of his friends on the earth plane and in the spiritual worlds, I commit these ashes of my father, Phiroz Mehta, to the good soil of the earth. In the name of Transcendence, may the wisdom and love contained in them return to the earth as transforming power for the benefit of the earth and of humanity.
Phiroz Mehta died on 2nd May 1994