The next morning was beautiful.
We both got up early, thanked the landlord for that thing he called breakfast, gulped it down with heavenly coffee, and got out to meet him.
Both our hearts thundered in our chests.
I was dying to tell him, no, show him, that I wasn’t alone. That I belonged in this place, where I had no friends, no relatives, no past.
She slipped her hand in mine and gripped tightly. She was just seconds from breaking into a nervous laughter. We smiled at each other and reached the tree where he sat yesterday.
He was there, looking at the crowd inching to see the deity. He murmured silent prayers and moved the beads in his hands. He nodded to himself, turned around and smiled at us.
Our hearts thundered in our chests.
We walked towards him, as if bidden by a secret hand. She looked at him sheepishly and smiled. He did not, could not, take his eyes off her. She blushed and ran away towards the queue.
His eyes followed her until she joined the line and then he turned to look at me. He sighed, smiled and closed his eyes again.
I joined him in the tree, stretched my legs and smiled. Why do I feel so free? I had no answers, but I was happy and it was enough.
We sat in silence until she entered the agrahara and vanished from our sights. Seconds passed. My happiness, piqued, now fell slowly into a tumultuous nerve of emotions. Second thoughts raged until I could contain myself no longer.
You are wrong, I told him. I am here because I can be here. This is a vacation and I am just a tourist.
He smiled, said nothing. He then got up, and stretched his hand towards me. The sun shone brilliantly to frame his kind face. I took his hand and we walked.
He stopped near a stone set below two figures. The lady and the man was carved with their backs barely an inch from each other. Their features were remarkably neutral with the lady braving a slight tear in her eyes. In her hand, she held a flower and in his hand was a water kindle titled towards the ground.
He noted my curiosity, smiled and pointed towards the stone. In it, read:
"My mind storm in thoughts,
Ripples created by slight words,
Every lost moment,
I became what you made me,
Of ten thousand souls that wander alone,
I feel lost amidst them all,
My heart aches and wishes for a death,
Hope of mercy,
By the swiftest wind,
But if every wish I wish went answered,
Oh, won’t I be the queen of your dreams,
But my life isn’t mine,
A forfeit of choice,
One thought that changed it all,
Like the smoke from the fire,
I stand polluted,
Judged by your eyes,
Guilty by your indifference,
Condemned by your absence,
For on my death,
They will sing a song of fire and ice,
Of life unlived,
Of crows that took my heart,
While I turn in my grave,
Weeping, I pray,
Let me have a wish for the life I was destined,
Let me have a choice for one last time,
Let me seek redemption from my withering corpse,
And from where you stand,
You turn and smile,
Cruel and kind,
And nod the acknowledgement,
Of a pitiful existence alive in your eyes,
My eyes whisper shame and hope,
whilst my lips move to resurrect what was once yours,
and I pray to you thus:
Ah, but if I shall have one last wish,
Let there grow a flower, I say,
Of breeze and beauty,
That shames the gloom,
While the earth hums a lullaby,
Of petals that are trampled,
By a heart of fire and ice.
The wind turns your soul,
And I wonder if I saw the ice burn in your eyes,
But you simply walk away,
Melt in the crowd of cloaks,
While I close my eyes,
And die unsatisfied,
And there grew a flower,
Of such beauty and fragrance,
That shamed the gloom,
Inviting whispers of songs and lore,
Of my heart that got stolen away,
For a price too high,
And laid to rest,
For a sleep that would haunt your dreams,
Little did I know,
That the flower grew in salt,
Remnants of your tears,
That went unshed,
Whilst you carried my burden,
Deprived of salvation,
With a soul that burned,
And scarred your fate.
And so the song was sung,
Of fire and ice,
Of truth and lies,
Of hearts and swords,
Of flowers and boots,
Of life and curses,
And O my love,
Of you and I."
I did not know what to say. He smiled and stretched his hand again. Mesmerized, I walked as if in trance, guided by a hand bidding to follow.
The deity shone from a distance dressed in blue. She was seated near the agrahara alone. He took me closer to the deity, looked at me and pressed a finger to his lips. My heart thundered in my chest.
And in that silence, she sang. Her voice echoed through the walls into the hearts of everyone who stood. Her notes perfect, it pierced deep into my soul and I stood shocked. Transfixed.
Breathless, my eyes wept a silent tear as she sang the song of Fire and Ice.
I do not remember how I came to be near the lake. I sat in the sand, listening to my heart. How can a boy of barely ten years unnerve me so? How is it that my anonymity be disregarded so slightly by this city as if I just returned home? What is it about everything here that I am missing?
I sat and looked away while my mind obdurately played the tune.
But if every wish I wish went answered,Oh, won’t I be the queen of your dreams.