In the first part of Svagito’s recollections, we followed him and Meera on their adventure in South Africa up to the fatal dive. In this part Svagito tells of the many decisions he had to make to take care of her body.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 – afternoon
I had been sitting with Meera’s body on the back of the truck for perhaps three hours, maybe longer. I can’t remember exactly. I had no sense of time. I did not know how this accident could have happened. I thought she might have had an embolism or something similar. I still did not want to move away from her body and did not want to see or talk to anybody. The dive crew came and brought some of my and Meera’s belongings and finally the police arrived. Fortunately, the inspector did not ask me any questions.
There was talk of an autopsy. I said I did not want that. I wanted her body to be with me for the night in my hotel room. The police officer phoned the hotel manager and that was sorted. He then phoned his superior who would not allow it. When I insisted, he told me that he could not do anything, that according to the law a dead body belonged to the government and that Meera’s body was to be brought to a morgue some 70 km away. I had no energy left to fight. He also said that an autopsy absolutely had to be done because the cause of death had to be investigated and that the officially authorized doctor would do it in three days’ time. I said I wanted her body to be cremated as soon as possible. So he phoned around; at least he found a doctor who could do the autopsy the following day in the nearest bigger town.
After a while the hearse arrived to take Meera’s body away. I was still sitting with Meera on the truck, her head in my lap, sometimes talking to her and touching her body and head. I did not want to leave her even for a single moment. Everything felt completely unreal. I experienced my mind like a dead computer program trying to do a re-start endlessly. It was as if I had gone with Meera and my mind was still there trying to function on its own. It was as if I was no longer part of this world, like a dreamer in a nightmare waiting for it to end. My body was numb as if still under water and all sounds appeared to be coming from far away.
Finally I allowed them to take her body from the truck. They put her in a plastic bag and placed her into the hearse. It all felt so mundane and ungraceful. I was told they would take her to the hospital, put her in its morgue for the night and then drive her the next day a further 120 km to Richards Bay for the autopsy. I told them that I wanted to go with them so that I could stay at least near her body.
I followed the hearse in my rented car and asked them to wait at the gate of my hotel where I wanted to collect a few items, like Meera’s iPad. I wanted to play some Osho music for her. I wanted her departure to be festive, beautiful and celebrative… not so primitive as it looked like it was going to be. I felt terrible that there was no way to create a beautiful celebration for my beloved’s departure from this world. Everything was so plain and primitive.
The hearse waited for me, then we drove on. They stopped at a petrol station to get petrol and have coffee… I could not stand it. I wanted to see Meera’s body and pleaded with them to drive on – which eventually they did. I followed them for all the 70 km on country roads. While driving I screamed and screamed and screamed.
After maybe an hour we arrived at the hospital. They unloaded the bag with Meera’s body, but before they placed it in the refrigerator, I told them I wanted to see her again. They opened the bag, I talked to her, again saying that it is only the body and not to worry. I talked to her, but I talked to myself as well. Certainly I was the one who was worrying, as the only thing I wanted was for Meera to be well. I played Osho songs from the iPad and placed it next to her head inside the bag before it was put into the refrigerator.
I waited outside in the open and did a dance for her, and kept talking to her continuously. I was there for maybe two hours. The guard who was sitting outside the morgue had pity on me and asked me if I wanted to see her again. I said ’Yes’ immediately. He opened the refrigerator and took out the stretcher. The music on the iPad had stopped playing, maybe because of the cold, so I gave up on the idea of making her listen to Osho songs.
Finally my mind started working again. I had to inform many people about what had happened. I was torn between wanting to stay with her and planning all the things that needed to be arranged. Finally, I spoke to Meera and told her that I had to leave and would be back with her the following day.
I felt so very guilty that I had not been able to save her, that I had not been able to keep her body in more beautiful surroundings, that I was unable to stay close to her. I felt so utterly helpless for not being able to create a celebrative surrounding for her. I felt as if the worst thing had happened in the worst place possible. Why had my beloved left her body at such a moment and in such a place?
It took me a whole hour to drive back to our hotel in Sodwana Bay – it was evening by now. The hotel manager had waited for me and told me that I could use his office for anything I needed to do. I was very grateful because the internet connection for the public was so bad and unstable; although the connection in his office was poor, too. Skype did not work as the connection was too weak. I tried to use my German cellphone but the pre-paid amount was used up after just one or two calls. And to top up my account I needed the internet. It was all so complicated and difficult.
I tried to find the phone numbers of Meera’s brother and friends in Japan. No one answered. I found a number of a Japanese couple, friends, who spoke almost no English. I told them on the phone that Meera had left her body and asked them to phone her brother, or if they did not have his number, to inform another friend, who could tell her brother. I managed to contact the embassies of Germany and Japan after finding their emergency lines. Luckily I could use the telephone of the hotel.
My plan was to take Meera’s body back to Pune and be cremated there, the place she loved and where we could have a proper celebration.
I sent e-mails around the world and tried to phone India. And in Facebook I put up this post about Meera’s leaving:
My most beloved Meera has left her body today, in the morning. I am still in shock and cannot write more right now. Just asking you to meditate with her and give her the send-off she deserves. She was so full of love for everyone – such a gift to have spent 25 years with her. I try to bring her to Pune for her goodbye celebration, if possible.
Fly high, love of my life. Not only me, thousands will miss you. But it is only your body that has left and your dances, paintings, laughter and love will remain with us forever.
Even before I had posted this, the news had already spread like wildfire. I was on the computer till late at night – and I still had to pack our two large suitcases. The hotel manager gave me the details how to reach the town where, the following morning, the autopsy would be made and reserved a room for me in a neaby hotel (but it later turned out it was 200 km away from it!).
I went back up to our room to pack. I did everything as if in a trance. My body was shivering with cold, even though it was a warm night. I had to take a hot bath because I was freezing cold. It was so unreal to pack Meera’s suitcase. I was exhausted and after packing I lay down but could not sleep, of course. I dozed off a little bit, but as soon as my mind remembered where I was and what had just happened I was again wide awake – with my heart pounding.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Most of the night I had been awake. My mind was blank, often feeling like I was living in a dream, a nightmare – and hoping to wake up. It was not easy to get up from bed and face reality, on the other hand I knew I wanted to be again with Meera’s body and as soon as possible.
While I was packing the car – it was very early in the morning – a girl from the dive shop came running and hugged me, crying. She gave me one of Meera’s things and I handed her my still-wet dive suit saying that she could keep it because I would not be diving anymore. She was the only person I saw from the dive company ever again and the only person – so far – who shared some of my pain and helped me cry. Otherwise I was still in a trance and quite dissociated from everything.
After I had loaded the car, I backed up and hit a bulldozer that was parked just behind me. The bumper was badly damaged, but I could not care less. I checked out from the hotel and started the 200 km drive to Richards Bay, the small town where the autopsy was going to take place. I followed the written instructions given to me by the hotel manager and it took me about 2 ½ to 3 hours to reach there. Still it was not easy to find and I was in a great hurry because I still wanted to prevent the autopsy from happening.
I finally found the place and the doctor. Meera’s body had already arrived. I wanted to see her and was allowed to do that. Then the doctor started asking questions. I told him all the details of what had happened as far as I knew and I was very eager to get an explanation from him about what could have possibly happened and why we had not been able to bring Meera back to life. He couldn’t say much and insisted that he had to do the autopsy and that I had no legal right to prevent it. I finally gave up. He told me that they would cut open her ribcage and stitch her body back again afterwards. I did not want anyone to touch her body, what to say about cutting her body open? I connected to Osho and got the message to let go and that Meera was fine.
The doctor suggested I should get an undertaker. The embassy had also given me some names, but none were from Richards Bay. So I agreed to take the local undertaker that the doctor had suggested. He arrived within a short time while the autopsy was still underway. The doctor came out to see me and told me that they could not find a problem with Meera’s body. “She was a very healthy lady,” he said. The cause of death was drowning, but why she drowned he could not say. All my questions remained unanswered.
Now: Paperwork. The undertaker took me first to his office and then his assistant took me to the various government offices where I had to sign papers and give fingerprints. It was a torture to sit and wait in all these offices, while all I wanted to do was to sit with Meera’s body. They insisted I had to do this quickly, otherwise it could take a very long time to get her body out of the country.
Meanwhile, the Japanese embassy phoned. Meera’s brother had been in contact with them. A very supportive and kind person in the embassy eventually managed to get together all the necessary papers from the Japanese government, and in a relatively short time. I also got lots of messages by phone, SMS, e-mail, Facebook. It also became clear to me that it would not possible to take her body to India. So I thought that we could maybe take at least her ashes to Pune? Was that the right thing to do? And where to have the cremation?
By early afternoon I returned with the assistant to his office. By now the undertaker had brought Meera’s body from the autopsy room and I could finally spend time with her. Her dive suit had been taken off and I washed her body, her hair and face with warm water and soap. I combed her hair and clothed her with a dress that I had brought with me – I had bought the dress for her when we were in Dubai. She liked it very much but had not worn it yet. I also placed a beautiful silk shawl on her that I had bought in China during my last trip. Her face looked so relaxed and peaceful. I asked the undertaker and his assistants to leave me alone so that I could sit with her for some time.
I talked to her and felt her presence very strongly. She was well, maybe even blissful, but I saw her looking at me as if she was worried. She was concerned about me. I told her not to worry about me, that I would manage and that she should continue on her journey. I told her how much I loved her and wanted her to be well. She was with me all the time. I went in and out of shock and now my tears started flowing uncontrollably. From now on this would happen anytime, anywhere, like a sudden waterfall, with heavy sobbing.
The undertaker returned and wanted to discuss the cremation, which coffin to choose and so on. I reluctantly let them put Meera’s body back into the refrigerator. I had received lots of messages, also from Pune. I was informed that neither Meera’s body nor her ashes could be brought to India and that, according to Osho’s guidance, the cremation should be as soon as possible. Okay, I thought, not India, but then would she like to be in Japan? I talked to the man from the Japanese embassy and decided to take her body to Japan as soon as possible. The undertaker tried to speed things up and pushed me to do all the paperwork quickly, otherwise we would not be able to take her body to Japan before the next week.
I went on a mind trip: What to do? Should we maybe do the cremation in South Africa? It might be faster than sending her body to Japan. Am I doing the right thing? I meditated and felt that Meera preferred Japan. Also Osho’s message to me was that this choice was good and that for Meera it would not matter if the cremation was a few days later.
More paperwork, more phone calls.
I received a message from Chetana, a friend from Mallorca. She offered to come to South Africa – she had already checked out possible flights. I was very touched and told her that I would come and pick her up at the airport in Durban.
By now it was late afternoon and I needed a rest. That’s when I found out that the hotel, which the manager had booked for me the night before, was 200 km from where I was; it was actually close to Durban. So I asked the undertaker for the address of a good hotel in town. It turned out it was in the outskirts, but I managed to find it after a few wrong turns.
After I had checked in, I spent more time on the internet contacting people, talking to the embassy and now also to Meera’s brother who was very practical and helpful. I talked to friends on Skype and read Facebook comments, which helped me cry. I sat and closed my eyes. I talked to Meera, cried again, took a hot bath. I even ate something, because I told myself, “If you do not eat, your body will collapse.”
Then again I had those strong guilt attacks, where I literally wanted to bang my head against the wall. I felt so terribly responsible for what had happened. My whole life had stopped and nothing made sense. I wanted to disappear. For a long time I was just sitting on my bed watching the movie in my head. Probably because of my high adrenalin level I was wild awake. I had a strong sense of being out of my personality, as if mind and body were separate from me.
I just wanted to sit and sit and sit and disappear in meditation. And in all my agony these were almost blissful moments.
There was nothing.
Svagito is a therapist, teacher and training leader and uses various therapeutic modalities, such as Family Constellation, Male-Female Energywork, Pulsation, Trauma Healing and others. He has been Meera’s partner for 25 years and sometimes together and sometimes alone they have been travelling extensively every year visiting many countries. Together they had homes in Munich, Poona and Japan. www.family-constellation.net
When my life stopped – part 1
The shocking news – part 3
Meera – 21st February 2017
Dancing into the Unknown: Osho Painting and Art Therapy – review of Meera’s posthumously published book
Celebrating Meera’s Legacy