October began with holidays. Dussehra was soon approaching in a week. My all dear friends (friends near to my heart) were going to their respective homes in their respective towns. I was not going as I had planned my home trip for Diwali. The only solace I had at that time was – Pia. She was with me. Campus walk had become a daily routine for me and Pia, my best friend. In first few days of the month, our hostel shrunk to just 30 students from the full strength of 250. Harsha, Harimohan, Rahul all had been gone. Our room had been reduced to a single soul and that was me. But it had its green effects too. I became more closer to Pia. Apart from our daily rendezvous in the morning, we started meeting in the evening too. One day I proposed her to visit a nearby temple. She hesitated initially but when I promised her that we would return in an hour, she gave her consent.
Daksheshwar Mahadev temple was one of the beautiful place in Haridwar. There were clusters of temple around. First time, I had visited there with my friend Shubham. It was a wonderful trip. So I took her there and really it became another cherishable chapter of my life. We reached there in the evening around 5 pm. Firstly we visited the Daksheshwar Temple and performed darshan of Lord Shiva. On the entrance of the temple, there was big Nandi Maharaj sitting in a humble position. People were whispering something in his ears, probably their wishes. I heard someone stating that all the good wishes are turned true here. So I asked Pia to make a wish. She looked into my eyes and my all wishes were fulfilled. Then she said something softly in the right ear of Nandi Maharaj. After her, I turned ahead to make my wish. I looked inside the ear of Nandi Ji, it was long, hollow & dark.
‘O Maharaj, please fulfill all the wishes of Pia. That is my only wish.’ I prayed. I bowed and then we came outside. After that we went to Hanuman Temple and other few ones. But the most magnificent was the Laxmi-Narayan Temple. We crossed a short alley to reach there. There were different old people, vagrants, and yogis sitting on the sideways asking for the alms. I looked at their crestfallen faces and prayed for them. Pia took few coins from her pocket and distributed it among them. I looked at her lovingly with my hands-fold for a prayer.
‘Come here,’ she said to me and I followed her like a little kid follows her mother in a market.
The idols in the Laxmi-Narayan temple were carved so beautifully that it reminded me of the Delhi Akshardham Temple. I performed dandvat to the Lord and said a little prayer, ‘O Supreme Lord, please take care of my parents.’
I opened my eyes to see that Pia was also praying next to me with her eyes closed. I looked at her beautiful face radiating with a new kind of joy yet so silent. She opened her eyes only to find me staring at her. I hesitated and closed my eyes. Then I felt a soft touch on my hand. She was holding my hand.
‘Chale,’ she asked. I smiled.
If you want to feel the presence of a Supreme Being then come to India. Here are beautiful temples. Here are kind-hearted people. Here are joyful festivals. Each part and pore of this country resonates with the song of a Divine being who is eternal, who is kind, who is most lovable and who is God.
We were sitting on the Ganga-ghat of the Daksheshwar Mahadev Temple. Our feet were touching the cold water beneath. The environment was serene and beautiful. Slowly the sun was going to sleep in the beauty of night. Suddenly Pia held my hands in hers. ‘Thanks,’ she said very calmly. Before I ask her why, what, she responded very beautifully.
‘For each moment that I have shared with you today.’
I looked at her. Her each word was true. Each word from heart. She was looking straight into my eyes so I lowered my head shyly as if to measure the depth of Ganga. I was confused now, how to reciprocate? My idiot mind encouraged me and this time I held her hand. More tightly. Thinking that she might run away after hearing my stupidity.
‘For each day and night
I want to be with you,
All seasons of dark & light,
I want to see with you.’
I was almost in tears after saying it to her. Not because whatever I said was directly from my heart but I was thinking that what if she might take ‘dark’ in an offensive way. But she smiled and I sensed relief.
We sat there for few more minutes and then walked away together. Back to Gurukul.
I was sitting alone in my room working on few college practical files, when I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to find our college president standing with his men. I greeted him and he abruptly said, ‘Do you know how to make Ravana?’
I said, ‘Umm.. Yes.’
‘Then come fast with me and bring few other students with you.’ He said and went away. I wore my slippers and walked away with him.
It was Dussehra. The festival day. It marks the triumph of Righteousness over Evil. Thousands of years ago on the same day , Lord Rama had killed Ravana. Ravana was an evil demon. So, his effigy is burnt every year on Dussehra.
I had to prepare it. Firstly, we collected dry grass, wood, and other waste material. Then I built his skeletal structure using two large wooden logs. Later, I gave it a shape of a big demon – Ravana. Lastly we decorated it from outside and filled a lot of crackers inside it. Around 6 pm, our 6 ft. Ravana was ready. We took it to the hockey ground and posted it on the ground. His face was looking terrific with large sharp eyes, big moustache and evil grin.
We were waiting for a senior leader. After he came, we flamed it to fire. Soon the crackers inside it started bursting and we all enjoyed the bonafire. Chanting of ‘Jai Shri Ram… Jai Shri Ram‘ was roaring everywhere. Every year in my home, I used to make the effigy very cheerfully to burn it in the last. This year, I was away from my home but the ritual continued.
I was happy. But I missed Pia. She had gone to Rishikul with her family.
As the last piece of demonic Ravana fell to the ground, I closed my eyes and a small prayer slipped out of my heart.
‘O God ! Burn all the evils of my mind and purify my heart. Let the truth rein.
Jai Shri Ram.
Thanks For Reading
Gaurav S Kaintura
31 March 2017
Read the previous chapter : A New Friendship
Read the next chapter : Room No. 108
Please like it and share it with others on Facebook, twitter, whatsapp, Instagram, blog, etc.