Kuleen had never anticipated that he would die in autumn. Winter is the right time to die, isn’t it? Let’s have a glimpse at his last thoughts in today’s story of the four seasons in everyone’s life.
“Who would have thought I’d die in autumn?”, he thought, when he died. Leaning against a tree. Watching the sunset. Pure kitsch!
He was out for a walk, because he had the feeling this would be a unique sunset. Rust red, magenta, orange and yellow. Postcard colours.
He walked to the edge of the forest. Then he felt something inside his body. He says: “Oh. No.” Nothing more. Heart attack, he knew that right away.
He was not panicked, shocked or frightened. Just a little surprised.
Just “Oh. No.” Then he sat down by the tree and died.
All that bothered him was the fact that he was going to die in autumn.
Why not in winter, as it should be?
Winter was his mother’s season. Her name was Gramya. Brigitte at birth, but then Gramya. That’s the name Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had given her. Gramya means innocence. Brigitte from Konzerbrück at the Mosel was Gramya in Poona. Exactly 8431 km from door to door.
Brigitte came back to Germany in 1977 to give birth. After six months she returned to Bhagwan. She had left her son Kuleen in Konz. That was him.
Kuleen is also a Bhagwan name and means “well born”. But for domestic use he was “Collin” all his life.
In March 1978 the magazine “Stern” published a big feature about Bhagwan, Poona, the whole sect, the Sannyassins and – with pictures to prove it – about free sex.
The reporter, Jörg Andres Elten, stayed in Poona afterwards. On two of the black and white photos, Brigitte was to be seen. Once naked and once dressed.
His grandparents had kept this copy of Stern and gave it to him as a coming of age gift in 1995. These were the only pictures of his mother he owned.
His mother herself was born in November. “Winter child, Brigitte”, says the grandmother, who actually was his mother. “Snow child,” says the grandpa. “Always pale and always cold.”
So winter was the season of Brigitte. Of Gramya.
It was in 2002 when he visited her in Poona. In winter. She was 52 and he 24, they didn’t have much to say to each other. Poona now was a luxury resort for wealthy people from the West seeking mindfulness. Gramya was an “ashram therapist”. No longer clothed in bright orange, but in a black robe with a white sash.
In the last years Bhagwan had become Osho. And free love had become chastity. Aids had changed everything.
In the middle of India, in the heat, they sat in the spacious courtyard of the ashram. They had nothing to say to each other. Gramya was cold and Kuleen was sweating like a sinner in church.
An unequal couple, mother and son. Winter and summer. Gramya and Kuleen.
So why not die in winter? Or in spring?
Spring was the season of Pia. That was his wife’s name. Red hair, freckles, always working in the garden, always with a little sunburn.
She smelled like grass and earth even back in college. She had turned the balcony of her flat into a plantation, in the middle of the city. Herbs, tomatoes, beans, lettuce – everything from Berlin Mitte. Directly from Pia’s balcony.
The year 2000 itself did smell like earth and concrete. The future had its troubles in beginning. Democracy had won and the world was peaceful and colourful. One cold war was over and the next cold war had not yet begun.
One year of breathing space. Berlin was a huge construction site and the youth of the world poured into the new, old capital of Germany.
Kuleen studied comparative religious studies, or more precisely: religious transfer and cultural transformation, and he believed in nothing. Pia studied botany, more precisely: structural and functional plant diversity and she really believed in Gaia!
They had no common circle of friends and no common interests. Everyone they knew advised them against their relationship.
Wedding 2007, birth of twins 2008, move to Hiebenburg, so that Pia could plan and design a new botanical garden there.
2015 the long-planned divorce, Pia and the girls move to Reserva Paisajistica Nor Yauyos-Cochas. Near Lima. In Peru. In the middle of the jungle.
“I’ll come and visit you soon” he had promised. He knew he was lying.
They were called the ecofreak and the raver, the weirdo and the gardener, or, less friendly but more often: fat and stupid. Though he was fat, Pia was not stupid
He still can’t look her in the eyes. Because he still loves her as he did in the spring of 2000, because he still smells grass and earth when he thinks of her.
So not winter or spring. Why not the summer… it was a close call, wasn’t it?
In 2018 he was diagnosed with cancer. He doesn’t work anymore and is under constant treatment. Many pills and a lot of radiation. Accompanied by psychotherapy and meditation.
This summer no tumor cells could be found and he was considered cured. “He had beaten cancer,” was what his neighbours told everyone.
Bullshit. He hadn’t conquered shit – he hadn’t even fought!
He had not googled all the symptoms, had not read the package inserts, had not looked for a support group. He just nodded at every diagnosis and went with every suggested treatment.
The truth was that modern medicine has defeated cancer, all by itself, without Kuleen. Because he was fully occupied with feeling nothing. Like it had been since childhood.
The cancer, Kuleen believed, had defeated itself, probably out of boredom. Because he was the most apathetic patient ever. The tumour cells just gave up and left. Gone. Sweated out. Pooped out. Just like he pooped out 40 kilos of his body.
It was like the school sports festival. You hang around all day, then you do something exhausting for twenty minutes and in the end, you get a certificate.
That’s what cancer had been like to him. His certificate probably said: “Participation in the Carcinoma” – a consolation prize.
He stands in the hospital and packs his bags when suddenly he has to sit down. Everything hurts. “You’ll be all right,” said the young doctor. “Take long walks!”
So, he didn’t die that summer.
Autumn was the time of year he always liked the least. Chestnuts rotting in the streets because nobody picks them up. Cabbage, fermenting in the basement of his grandmother.
Corpses of bees and flies on the windowsill, frozen overnight in shock. Trees stretching their bare branches senselessly into the sky. Empty fields afraid of winter. That was autumn to him.
On one day in autumn, his heart had decided to stop beating.
There he is. Kuleen. Or Collin. Leaning against the tree, holding his numb left arm. In the distance he sees his neighbour playing fetch with his dog.
Coloured leaves trickle down onto his legs. The sun shines warmly straight in his face. For the last time. This could easily be the most beautiful sunset of his life. It smells like earth and grass; he hears his girls laughing in his head.
He thinks of his estranged mother, how she smiles politely at him in India.
He thinks of Pia, how she always curled her nose while kissing.
He thinks of the twins crying in the airport.
He realizes “This has always been the right thing to do. That is the road I went. That’s how I came exactly to this place. I belong here. Now. All is well. The sun shines on him and it becomes so bright and huge in his mind that it holds the entire universe.
Leaves cover him. A journey has been made.