Mar 14, 2016

Professor Bate

Do you see how the little flame rushes over the wick, a sliver of blue and dancing yellow? I do not have the eloquence.

As they gave the eulogies I thought to myself, what does it mean that he is gone? Perhaps it was hard for me to comprehend because I didn't see him around much after freshman year; and every time I watch a video of him or simply picture in my mind his exclamations of wonder, his eyes gleaming in fascination, he is alive. I took a class with him, but didn't interact closely with him after that; what would be different now?

The vigil ends and I walk over to the steps, away from the people hugging and crying, and sit down with my candle. The wind is strong now; it threatens, it threatens, and the flame's dance is no longer calm and free. It is fierce. I try and shield the flame but the wind is too strong and the flame is amok and it shouts it thrashes and it's gone.

In that instance I understand.

As the sliver of smoke disappears I walk back to the circle of Class of 2017ers. There is a special peace within our circle, and President Lewis comes over to join us. Linh's flame goes out too; a gasp; she bursts into tears.

Kavya walks past me and I am reminded of why I love her name. I encountered the word in his An Anthropology of Literary Culture class. The first day I met Kavya I exclaimed "I know what that means! Kavya means song!" - well, I guess more of 'sonnet', or poetry - but Barney Bate lives in her name for me; every time I think of the name it is wrapped in beauty. 

A couple of days ago when the news broke, as I prayed for him on the train, I got this image of a lively procession, vibrant saris and blaring instruments, the atmosphere filled with much colour and life as he had, a celebratory farewell. He was a man larger than life, and his contagious energy transcends regions, transcends time; in every remembrance of him there is gratitude and joy.

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