It was an early morning in the summer of 2004. As had been our custom for many years, I was reading aloud from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri to Dr. V—or Dr. Thatha, as we in the third generation always called him. Thatha is Tamil for “grandfather.” The day’s passage was a conversation between Yama, the God of Death, and the princess Savitri. The long, flowing lines were dense with imagery, and I unconsciously began to read a little faster, not waiting for my mind to catch up to the meaning of the words. “Wait, wait, Pavithra,” said Dr. V—who reminded me on more than one occasion that Savitri was meant to be read as if there were a laddoo (a round Indian sweet) in your mouth. He bent his head to the page before him and repeated ...

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