A death had not saddened him more. He saw her wrapped in a sari, eyes closed, faint smile to imaginary eyes, before her pyre was lit. Her voice echoed whenever he observed silence, and her smile, danced in front of his eyes refusing to evade. She was not his lover. He was busy loving when he crossed her house and heard her voice ring in his heart, asking him to step in. He had shut the voice whenever it arose. He wrote to his lover rhyming metres, while he wanted her, to be his first reader. She would wait he assumed, unaware of her battle, without ever considering to rattle.
She, the one who had taught him to write.
She, the one who had made him smile at lines.
She, the one who had asked him to observe silence and find his inner balance.
She, the one who had asked him to visit her without an invite.
News about her death, he struggled to handle, and spent no more time describing his lover’s ankle. He got up to his feet and stepped into her street. The sight of her in a freezer box froze him to his bones. He walked up to her and placed a wreath of paper, filled with an incense of his words in ink. She, his teacher and philosopher, had not stopped teaching him even at her funeral pyre.
From the fountain of birth
I irked to create
A world apart
About the world within
In which I dwelled
From day to day
Standing on the bank was no fun,
Tepid under the noon sun,
Earth, bare and exposed,
Cracked and cratered,
In water drained
In morality we steer our lives,
Immortality we assume to attain,
Forgetting the glaring moral,
We are but mortal beings!
I dreamt every day
That somehow someday
I would cross the ocean
And start like a new season.
Today I cross the ocean
In a bundle of emotion
With a toddler by hand
And an old mother to help stand.
Leaving behind debris
Lived lives in memories
I cross the ocean
Without a destination.
The abuse the river underwent physically and verbally was brutal in the hands of human beings. It had ceased to flow and stagnated with a stench pervading through its length and breadth.
A group of artists stumbled upon the thought of working along the river, not necessarily to clean it but use the space on its banks and create a visual sight and capitalize on it. A public discourse was created in the order of emancipating the river. Enthusiasts joined the project in good will and proposals were made and sent to various government organisations and corporate offices for funds. The budget inflated every third day according to the whims and fancies of the team. But its details remained unaltered without any specifics. The cause of the river got drained in the greed for artistic recognition and monetary gain.
Nature foresaw the treachery to be committed in its name and rose in revolt. The blue sky and the winter mist dissipated under black clouds and nonstop rain shower drenched the earth in two spells for more than seventy two hours. The river swelled. Century old trees uprooted. Pipelines broke. Earth refused to absorb water. Traffic stalled. Life came to a standstill, but the river flowed in full throttle. All that humans had accumulated and discarded into the river floated back into their residence. Houses turned into drains and trash cans. Human existence was threatened. Rain was cursed. Political mileage was sought. Fervent prayers recited. Caste, religion and class dissolved as human concern peeped. Enthusiasts associated with the project withdrew in despair. People fled to save their lives and returned after a brief.
A handful of them realised the error caused by them against nature and themselves. The rest chose to ignore and continued to create more damage. The government managed to prevent outbreak of epidemic diseases. Political parties blamed each other. There was continued hype about the impending art festival along the river banks for the river, until the day arrived. The festival was called off citing insufficient funds and it being improper in the current milieu, quoting people would not be in the best of their mindset to receive it well. In a fortnight the river dried to expose its sand and breathe sunlight after a spate of washing out all that was thrust into it and upon it.
Temples came into existence through propagation of religious practices. Though its function was to unify people under a single roof in the presence of God, strict adherence to hierarchies of accessibility was practised. The ruler, usually the person who had initiated its construction, was without doubt given undue precedence and access to the sanctum sanctorum, while others had to await entry. Centuries after kingdoms have been erased, reeling under democracy Indian temples still pursue hierarchy in accessibility to the shrine.
Power of money has pervaded all walks of life, and it is no different in one’s accessibility to temples. Differentiation begins at the entrance where counters are installed to channelize the devotees into queues respective of the price of tickets purchased. The speed of access to the sanctum sanctorum increases with the price paid. Then there is always the VIP Darshan or Special Darshan, to those who have attained heights professionally, have wealth and the contacts to lead them directly into the sanctum sanctorum, with much proximity to the deity which the masses are denied access to. They are usually welcomed with red carpets and spend considerably less time in waiting to see the Lord. Their arrival stalls the thousands of devotees waiting to get a glimpse in caged lines, for hours together devoid of food and water.
So does this mean, the Lord is testing the patience of his/her devotees or that s/he blesses only based on their financial capability or the structures of hierarchies and accessibility enforced by those in administration of the temples indicate their weakness to wealth in the name of power. People, though entrapped in these classifications, still unquestioningly throng in thousands to those temples in fervent belief. Is it due to ignorance or a reluctance to defy hierarchy and assert equality? Under whose creation all beings are equal, are continuously and consciously being classified and declassified in their physical access to the Lord, by the exacting measures which one is expected to renounce to realise the Divine presence.