Tickles of Wind - Part 3

It was a whisper. "You are not home."

I was very sleepy, the way my eyes refused to open. In my gap, I could see it was her, legs folded on the sofa, one hand on her chin, playfully watching me. I smiled. It was a change. To wake up to a face this pretty.

I got up, took the paper from under the door and called my host for coffee. I could hear her constant chirping in the background. "We need to go early. The deity will be dressed anytime now." I smirk at her and then sit to read my paper. She seems restless in a manner that was not right. She came, placed her head between me and my paper and mocked, "You ran, to find something; and unless, that something is in the paper, it would have been better if you did this over mom's coffee." Like you, I agreed. That pretty little thing had a point.

There is something about India's culture, that many fail to see through. Beauty. In every temple, every god and goddess, in whatsoever form they might appear, are portrayed in a manner that best suits your imagination. No one can see a god, that is perfect in every manner, physically and in grace, elsewhere. Or angry. Or sometimes even sarcastic. Every priest, in India, is an underpaid artist. You need to have talent to lure people to a temple, not just knowledge.

I was sitting around a corner, under a tree watching the long crowd, edging each other to see Him, his beautiful face, in the morning. She was among the crowd, and somehow she slipped in the front, craning her neck to see if the drapes were removed.

He was draped in a dhoti, had a sacred thread around his shoulders and came and sat next to me. He murmured his prayers for a while and then with his eyes still closed, said with a smile, "She is pretty!". I smiled and looked at him. He was almost her age, perhaps a year or two older. I said, "Yes." He was seated with his back to me and said, "Tell me, why did you run from home?". I was perplexed, there was no way he could have known. I could have passed being an occasional tourist, but my indifference was not this plain. "How did you know?" "That is irrelevant. Why did you run?" "I dont know. Why do people run?"

There was a pause before he answered. "For answers. Who are you running from?" "Me." He smiled, "are you a bad person?". I smiled, "Yes". The holy bell was ringing. The drapes were removed and I lost her in the crowd. He got up, turned and said, "Come, lets pray." I didnt move. If prayers were my answers, I wouldnt be here. "No. You carry on." "You dont believe in God?" "Is that a criterion?, I ask, to measure me?" "Yes it is." "And how exactly do you measure?", I asked him, tauntingly. "Well, if you believe in God, You believe in His judgment of right and wrong and all you need to do is check yourself with His judgment. And since you do not believe in Him, you will have to tell me how you measured yourself to be a bad person. Now, if you will excuse me, I will be back soon."

I watched him walk in a daze. He stood away from the crowd, directly in front of the deity, closed his eyes and murmured a prayer. It must have been 15 seconds. He came back and said, "Shall we walk? My house is nearby." I look around for her and he says, "She will be fine. Come with me."

There was an air of confidence in this kid of Haridwar. Honestly, a part of me was skeptic being preached by a boy who has hardly reached puberty. But the morning was fine and I was happy to be away from a crowd. "Do you come here daily?" He said "Yes". "How long have you been here?" "A very long time. In fact, I dont travel much." "Why not?," I ask, "this world is big. In fact, a planet. Dont you want to go around and see everything?" He smiled. "I dont have to travel to belong." I look at him and he adds "I dont have to run either. Yes, this is a planet but I already found my place of peace."

I am stunned and hurt. He took my hand and said with a smile, "This is my place. Come back tomorrow, same time. They dress Him in her favorite color blue."

I look back and she is there, her face frozen. I go to her and she hugs me, tearful, "He remembers!"