If you were to ask me what it was like, I would pause for a moment. I would tilt my head to one side, as if listening to an invisible spirit. Then I would begin to speak. Slowly. And this is what I would say:  Before this time I believed loss was just loss. Light was just light. Now I see that loss is also beauty and longing. Light is also shadow. This cannot be explained in words. You who have felt this, know exactly what I mean. To the others I will say, please consider this: Words are like pebbles. Small and easily picked up. While this may make them lovely to hold, it does not mean they are exact.

Language is irresistible, and often unreliable. Me and you. Black and white. Endings and beginnings. The delineations we make are functional, not always accurate. This is why I like the word bittersweet. It does not pretend to extricate what is inextricable. You who have felt this, know exactly what I mean. To the others I will say, please do not misconstrue any of this to be sad.

A child draws a wavy line on paper and calls it water. This is a simplification. The depiction omits depth and flow. A picture’s truth relies implicitly on the dimensionality of the viewer’s experience. It is the same with words. Happy and sad are simplifications. What we are talking about is the alchemical dimensionality of experience. Please take a moment here. To fully appreciate how nonsensical and important, how like a dissertation topic that sounds.

Sometimes it happens like this: In the blue shimmer of evening you take a walk with your husband. Like a jack-o-lantern (only kinder and much better-looking) he is lit from within. A-glow with goodness. He is also unwell. An autumn rose blooms, vivid as an accusation, over a garden fence. For the first time, you will experience the perfect beauty of the rose and the strickenness of mortality as the same thing. As inevitably one as the wave that rolls onto the shore and the wave that’s drawn back to the ocean.

There is no unknowing this. Once you have seen it, you are a half-done Midas. Everything your gaze touches will gleam both dark and bright. A disorienting, truthful mingling will take hold of your life. One day you will wake to a sun pouring molten gold over the hills, and your hand will fly to your heart as if to staunch blood from a wound. At night a distant dog will bark at the moon, and in that lonely howl you will hear a world of love and courage. Aggrieved and robbed of absolutes you will stumble into new realms of richness. You will mourn the loss of a certain kind of innocence. And you will surprise yourself by the admission, that given the impossible choice, you would not choose to cross back.

Little by little, you will learn to hold the infinite complexity of what is, with a simple(r) heart. But this cannot be explained in words. You who have felt this, know exactly what I mean. To the others I say gently: Fold these words into a back pocket friend, and go on your way. Perhaps they will wait there. Like so many little pebbles. Dreaming side by side… Until it’s time.

25 responses to “Bittersweet

  • Mohan

    Very well expressed the subtleness of life’s experience of ” Bitter Sweet” combinations. The intertwine that cannot be viewed in isolation.
    Mohan Nishtala

  • anne

    astounding feat, putting what cannot be explained in words into words that are not word per se but “the dimension of experience”. i cannot say precisely what i mean to say but you did. Thank you.

    • Pavithra K. Mehta

      Thank you for the kind words Anne. And for the remarkable gift of stories-in-pictures that you share with the world! I visited your site and was touched by glimpses of your vibrant journey.

  • Hufrish Irani

    you are truly inspired…this piece sounded almost like Khalil Gibran had somehow come alive in your writings…very poignant


    This is incredibly beautiful, Pavithra. Strong beautiful words.

    “The alchemical dimensionality of experience”. Wow.

    Thank you.


    Sent from my phone


  • sparklinraindrops

    Light and shadow, we are with you in spirit. Thank you for writing

  • SaraB

    Enlarges my perceptions and touches my heart. Thank you Pavi. You are both in our thoughts and prayers. Suranjan and Sara

    • Pavithra K. Mehta

      Thank you for the kind words and for holding us in your hearts. The journey has been and continues to be a privilege in beautiful ways. Sending our warmest wishes to you and Uncle for 2016!

  • vaishali

    wish you would write more often. I long for your posts

  • Welles

    Lyrics for music of a soul.

  • UR

    I like what you wrote about light and shadow. Here’s a page I wrote, “Shadow is real. It’s natural and necessary. It’s what light creates when it touches life.”

    View at

    • Pavithra K. Mehta

      UR — what a powerful quote. It rings so true. And thank you for sharing Sun and shadow — it’s a story full of truth and poetry. I am sure your words have brought a measure of comfort to many going through their dark night.

  • srini

    You do write so beautifully! The interplay of joy and melancholy is a true reflection of our lives and you portray that eloquently. Look forward to more of these. God Bless.

  • srini

    You do write quite beautifully! The interplay of joy and melancholy is truly a reflection of life itself and you bring it out so eloquently. Look forward to reading more of these. God Bless.

  • Merri

    Deep gratitude for your being-ness, and generously sharing that with us in the searing beauty of your words/poetry. I’ve followed your poems like bread crumbs on a trail back to my heart. This morning I woke and quickly penned a poem of the darkest light of my grief still holding me captive. Release and relief often doesn’t come through my own halting words. Now that I’ve read you’d today, and felt the mirrored sense of someone else who gets it, I do feel some relief. Thank you. And blessings be.

    • Pavithra K. Mehta

      Dear Merri — gratitude for the kind words. Am grateful my scribbles served your own journey in a small way. Wishing you all good things.

  • RohiniDG

    As usual, completely beautiful and captures the heart with its truth…

  • Nimesh Patel

    …and I am brought in, for a moment, into another realm of wisdom and life and truth, that I may not have truly ever experienced yet. And feel so humbled and blessed to taste it through your words. To know this is all of our stories at some point in some mysterious and unique way, sometime soon in this life! Wow dear sister, so amazing to read each and every word and heart expression of yours, always. I have no more words. Heart is soaked full right now. Love you guys!

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