Mountains, Ruminations

Graves and their lilting lichens…

Graves are as much annals of natural history as that of civilization, one muses, looking at lichens creeping over the tombstones… myriad shades of green go exploring the cracks and crevices to burst forth and fulfill their seemingly imperialistic ambitions through spores or isidia… from the vestiges of those deceased, life emanates as an intriguing concoction of fungi, algae and bacteria…

The (new) cemetery near Ganyadoli has this brooding ambience to it, in part due to the cypress canopy that shrouds it in an eerie stillness, enunciated by a rickety wooden gate patched over the gothic entrance… one traces graves from the latter half of the 19th century to more recent times… while most of them are marked, there are several unmarked (truncated, it seems) too, with small rhomboids for tombstones, ones that the lichens seem to prefer the most, guarding the anonymity…

‘Tis ironic, or rather befitting, that lichens, supposed to hold the secrets to biological immortality, prefer to wrap themselves around graves that are the pinnacle of senescence… slowly, subtly they take over the tombstones, obscuring names and dates, letting the rocks breathe and unburden themselves from the weight of calcified memories…

There are such interesting contradictions at play here… as they grow older, lichens are less likely to die, fungi reproducing more as they age… at a cemetery, these are sobering facts as one mulls over their own transience… immortality has its own price though, for lichens are forever at war with one another, much like these colonial remnants that sought expansion of the empire… ‘tis difficult to comprehend lichens in a manner that we do other flora or fauna since the idea of an ‘individual’ isn’t relevant here, and maybe ‘tis this idea of ‘non-identity’ that the lichens try to ascribe to the dispositions resting six feet under…

Lichen growing over graves

 

Lichen growing over graves

 

Lichen growing over graves

 

Lichen growing over graves

 

Lichen growing over graves

 

Lichen growing over graves

 

Grave at a cemetery

Musing on lichen growing over graves at a Christian cemetery, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

Author: Parth Joshi

Mountain lover ⛰️ | Hiker 🥾| Runner 🏃‍♂️ | Cyclist 🚴 | Photographer 📷... allured by the outdoors, the author is a quintessential lost soul craving for the outdoors while suffering in a desk job...

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