There! The cursed tears had started to flow again. How I dreaded it! Looking around I wondered if anybody had noticed my flooded eyes yet? I hoped not.
I looked at her. I hoped to seek answers from her. She was a woman too, only she could give me my answers.
There was a slight push from the crowd behind me. I was occupying prime space for a second too long. It was one of the days when the temple was more crowded than the rest. I guessed I was expected to move away and humbly give space to the devotee behind me. After all, she too had to gain her full view of the Lords on the altar.
My eyes gazed one last time at the Goddess. “You know about it”, I reminded her of my plight. I looked at the Lord standing majestically next to her. I paid my respects subtlety to him, bowed my head in reverence and paid my customary respect to the other magnanimous personalities on the altar. I do have my meditative conversations with each of them during other occasions, but today it was she whom I seek help from.
I completed my routine circumambulation of the temple, taking in to my within’s content, the colourful visuals and the fragrances that was unique to a temple ambience. Seemingly insignificant things to do they were, but my grandma would say that nevertheless one was better off doing them, as they had unimaginably purifying powers. I was older now and more accepting of such wisdom, it was more for somebody my daughter’s age now to question the logic behind it all. I had questions that were littler now, that mattered more.
I sighed as my thoughts got entangled amidst those of my daughter, her life, mine…I had tried my best hadn’t I? With the Goddess within my heart, who was witness to every moment of struggle that I went through, I could vouch with enough self esteem that yes, I had tried my best. I had tried everything that my well meaning mother had taught me to do, everything as a woman, as the backbone of my family. I had even tried the not so traditional path of contemporary self help training sessions, counsellors, reading up of modern books, etc. Why! I had even taken advice from my daughter to save my marriage! But alas, what had to end had to end.
“Child”, that was the priest calling out from behind. I looked back at him, did he have anything to tell me? I had just collected from him, the portion of the Goddess’s offering that is returned back to the worshipper, the prasad.
“Do not ever leave God’s abode without taking prasad, daughter.” The elderly priest smiled at the young girl whom he had called out to. “Oh!!” mumbled the young girl. She fished out a tenner from her purse, almost threw it onto the plate in front of the priest , took the prasad and mumbled as if to no one in particular “I come here to seek answers to my life’s questions from the Goddess, not for any damn prasad! These rusty old priests seek nothing else but money!!” It was again, a usual practice in temples to put in some little currency onto the priest’s plate as he handed out the prasad of the Gods, a little token of gratitude, maybe that was what it was meant to be.
The impudence in the young girl’s voice made me want to yell out to her “Hey kiddo! You are wrong!” I did happen to have known this old kind man since a long time now. He hadnt called out to her to get that tenner thrown onto his plate! He genuinely had belief in wanting to share his Goddess’s mercy with her. The young girl did look as though she could do with lots of it anyways!
He had that embarrassed look on his face as some other onlookers shook their heads about the brashness of the generation X of today. I kept looking at the young girl as almost everybody else was. Especially now as she was hollering into her phone.
“Can you just stop stalking me like this? I just told you today morning that its all over between us. I cannot have anything to do with a double faced man like you. I am in a temple right now and can you please leave me alone at-least here, for some time? For some Goddamn time??” She shrieked the last sentence not only into the phone but inevitably into all our ears. The temple security guys had to come up to hush her up and try to normalise things around her.
The girl had started crying by now. I started wondering if I had judged her prematurely. My heart went out to her as I could understand her helplessness. Like me, she too seemed to be going through the pain of separating from one she had invested her love in. I was unable to express it as loudly as her (was it better for her to do so or not can be another train of thought and no…right now I couldn’t afford another train of thought!!) , but the heart cried the same tears. I was sure by now that we both had come here to ask the same question to the Supreme Mother who adorned the altar beautifully.
I cried silently thinking of the day of my marriage when I had prayed here to Mother Sita to always be with me on my onward journey. The Goddess had kept her promise. Whatever situations I had faced until then, I knew my strength in facing them had always come from her. My question today to her was, now what? Would I be able to actually traverse the bold path of separation that I had chosen?
I would wonder often, what would she have felt when she went through what people called ‘abandonment’ from her partner, Lord Ram. Having known her all my life (thanks to books that I had always loved reading), I could say that it definitely was not ‘abandonment’. Rather, it was a beautiful understanding between her and her Lord Ram, where he had duties to perform in-spite of unflinching faith in her love for him and where she completely understood him. The calm inside Sita was just a reflection of the ocean of love that existed within her.
As I was leaving the temple, I had a small prayer in my heart. I prayed that may Mother Sita help me be forgiving, may that young girl learn to fill her heart’s void with enough love and hope and may the entire world learn to seek refuge in the experience of connecting with one’s deeper self . The young girl was now on the phone with her mother, “No ma, I am here at the temple, I want to pray. I am confused and I seek answers. I cant speak with him now….”
Well, of course, its each one’s own journey, connections or no connections, I thought to myself as I drove back. Sufferings and happiness’s are subject to how you perceive them, sometimes. At other times, its a simpler world, with all of us connected together like a string of pearls. We all have the same questions that we seek answers to. We all question the pains and the tribulations in our lives or in others. And answers there surely are, as sure as the existence of the journey each of us takes to seek those answers, knowingly or unknowingly.