Mother Ganga–the river Ganges–flows down from the Himalayas, glacier-fed and holy. On her journey to the Bay of Bengal she picks up every offering from the earth and every contribution from her people, until she is rich in everything from mountain silt to ash and dung and rotting
flesh. So enriched she winds her way from India into Bangladesh and finally out to the ocean.

In Patna where my father was born the water runs thick and grey-brown, the ghats crowded with people mourning and celebrating and praying from the depths of their souls. Patna’s sacred history has been obscured by generations of corruption and poverty; it is the capital of Bihar, known still as one of the “backward states” of India–least developed, least forward-thinking, least wealthy, least stable. Like the river, Patna lives in paradox.

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