…left her body on 17th November 2017.
I first saw Veetrag briefly in Poona in December 1975, but only got to know her many years later in 1988, while I ran the Osho Purnima Meditation Centre in London. I found her easy to talk to and she was very direct. It was in London that I discovered that she suffered from a mental illness.
In 1990, I returned to Edinburgh and she followed, moving into a neighbouring bedsit to where I lived. I later left Edinburgh and moved to Germany, but I kept in touch with her. We regularly talked on the phone and, once we had bought mobiles, also sent texts to each other.
Veetrag was extremely honest and shared everything that happened to her. She had an ambivalent attitude to Osho and her sannyas name, which means ‘beyond attachment’. So I got used to calling her Carmel or Veetrag depending on the situation.
I was probably her only sannyasin contact. In Edinburgh, sannyasins are thin on the ground and the ones that she tried to befriend did not reciprocate. In the spring of 2017, she started coughing up blood. Then the doctor gave her the shocking news that she had lung cancer. Veetrag was a heavy smoker so, although the news was a shock, she was not surprised.
By coincidence, my girlfriend Devamani and I visited her shortly after she had got the news. Veetrag asked us if she should get chemotherapy. We both said yes, but she decided against it in the end.
During the last few months, she started asking me about death. I sent her texts saying that death was nothing to be afraid of, but was like a door opening while another door closed. I also suggested that she practice dying in her imagination. I remember receiving one text that simply said, “No!”
About a month before she died, I discovered a charity that looks after people with terminal illness. She got in touch with them and they started visiting. I got my last text from Veetrag on the 14th November. Two weeks later, I heard that she had gone into the Marie Curie Hospice on the 15th and that two days later, she died. The day before her death, she demanded a cigarette, but the nurses refused. I feel that she died peacefully without any resistance and lived up to her name at the very end of her life.
I would like to share the tribute that I wrote in the website that posted her passing away:
I received your last text on 14th November. I will miss your texts and hearing your voice on the phone. Fly high, Carmel ❤ xxxxx
You are meant to lose the people you love. How else would you know how important they are to you?”
― Benjamin Button, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
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