Story of a Ruin

 

Hindu temple, Ubud, Bali
Pura Temple, Bali

 

On the banks of a winding river
covered by shade giving trees
stood an old temple now a ruin
one day, was I mighty surprised
to see myself walking towards it?

The glaze from the noon fiery sun
as it struck many majestic pillars
at first blinded me; I could now see
a deity of a goddess unattended.

Offering my salutations to her
I looked around to spot anyone
who would come this desolate way
but alas, no one seemed to exist
except me, in these lost quarters.

I walked down the once trodden steps
when having heard a sharp noise
I turned around to see, to my wonder
the old sanctorum door now shut
who had shut that door, I wondered.

I went around to the farther side where
trees grew abound next to a cool pond
with water flowers growing amid aplenty
my eyes spied in the shade of trees
a monkey and a squirrel eyeing in awe.

The cool breeze and the fruits in bounty
took me to a dream of bygone days
I dreamt of that very place back in time
how festivities rocked the still ground
where people flocked and lost in joy.

The temple fair with all its pristine glory
had attracted one and all, near and afar
a visitor like me now in different attire
it was then I spied upon a beautiful girl
who stood in the precincts of the temple.

Was she beautiful, or was she radiant
there was something about her charm
eyeing all who seemed to be lost in fun
wondering who she was, bright as the sun
my mind at sea, churning with thoughts.

I climbed the well laid lovely temple steps
a flood of devotees praying to the goddess
somehow the glow on the face of the deity
could very relate to that on the young girl
one in divine and another in human form.

Making casual inquiries it was made known
she was the very child of the temple priest
a staunch devotee who cared for nothing
engrossed in the ardent service of his folk
worship of a mother who was his child.

I circled with the crowd, and at every turn
her radiant smile, of the ever mighty holy
my doubts cleared with the compassion
she bestowed on us with her look of love
a mother truly pleased at her children.

At a loss, to keep the discovery to myself
do I make it known, not had I, the courage
should I approach her the wonder she was
would she listen to me as others of her age
or be wise as a woman of a countless age.

One day, she was playing prank with kids
getting close, away from the little ones
when she sensed my faithful approach,
the graceful, the all knowing smile asking
how was I attracted to her, all these days.

Garnering courage, I went near divine her
while the kids were not at close quarters
asking her, was it true, what I had sensed
she being the divine in human form said
keep it to you, which I did all this time.

Days were spent meeting and asking
had she powers that she could exercise
could she keep the village blessed
she would wait for them to pass a test
would then, she decide to be a part of it.

A few months passed by, days of joy to me,
but one day, the priest’s daughter fell sick
the ailments added to her father’s plight
one said of a physician at the king’s court
might help her to tide over her such illness.

A journey to the palace place was too far
calling the physician might invite wrath
a young lad, i was to carry the message
private it was, to the medic to respond to
a person who still glowed, despite her pain.

I went to the king’s court and with difficulty
manage to get his consent, for the call
but he asked for a big fee, which I doubted
any one, of the village could well afford
but they could have grouped and helped.

With sad tidings, I brought the message
no one cared or willed to help the priest
who rendered selfless service for them
helped bring them blessings from Her
just as She had blessed him with Her.

Chiefs and the landlords refused to help
in kind or in money, left him disconsolate
the priest died,  heart broke, just as he was
was this test you told of, she faintly smiled
she was to pass away, with me by her side.

Rain clouds hovered to the delight of all
but my wet plight only, no one could gauge
I lost her that very night, her hands in mine
radiant as ever, her loving eyes upon me
was it in torrents, it poured from the sky?

The river, beside the village, rose in anger
submerged banks with all its people
the waves climbed the forsaken temple
did they also wash away our lost selves
I must be delighted to part with my body.

It all came back to me, I was driven here
a place where once, I loved a  girl of  glory
a divine Odyssey it was,  that got me here
I now, left to reminisce the story of a ruin
a pleasure if She would come again for me.

 

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The Referral

Jagan was looking for a paying guest accommodation in the city and one evening finally tired of walking through building blocks, decided to take rest below a banyan tree that had a concrete bench built around it where he thought  he would rest his aching legs.

You seemed to be tired, young man. What is it that are you looking for? asked an old man sitting on the same bench at a distance. Jagan didn’t remember noticing him while he had sat on the circular bench. He must be in his late seventies, a retired old fellow who must be a frequent visitor here, so he thought. Jagan told him about his predicament about getting some accommodation, as staying in a shanty lodge which was far away from his work place was difficult for him.

You have come to the right place and lucky for you, I am been sitting here this late today. Maybe I was waiting for thee” he chuckled to himself, his wrinkled faced showing the amusement in the faint glow from the street light. “There is an old lady in the next building who is a bit lonely. Her children now grown up with families of their own, have left her for greener pastures. Maybe you can drop in and have a word with her. If she likes, as I have, you can surely move in to her house and stay with her as long as you are in her good books“.

Jagan thanked the old gentleman who was now looking at him with gentle eyes as if a father would look at his son, and proceeded to the building pointed by him. He had walked a few steps forward and then turned to ask him. “Can I refer your name to her?  ” Why not? came the answer. “Tell her one Mr. Ram referred you. I am sure that would be an advantage for you” he said waving to him. Jagan thanked him again and went in search of the flat on the second floor.

While climbing the steps, he had his doubts as to whether he could adjust with the old lady or whether the owner would adjust with him. Not that he had any habits which would be a bone of contention for rejection.

The lady took an immediate liking for him and told him that he could stay with her and share her flat. He was supposed to be with the lady, so that there was someone at home, who could take care of her in case she fell sick with some ailment at this advanced age. Therefore the rent amount fixed was quite low by her to Jagan’s liking. Jagan was a pleased man as he climbed the steps down that day. He could move in, bag and baggage from the next day itself. As he went by the banyan tree, he wanted to meet the old man, but he was not to be seen, not surprising, as it was quite late.

As days passed, contrary to expectations set, it was the lady who started to care for him. She always prepared breakfast for him though it was not part of the deal. On weekends Jagan could enjoy the vegetarian lunch and dinner with her. She used to have a  menu of dishes so that Jagan would not feel it mundane. While eating , she used to remark, “what is the point of lavishing love on you by making such dishes. One day you would leave me as others have did..”

Once when he came late as usual, there was no electricity, so he bought candles and lit one of them as he climbed the stairs. He knocked on the door and kept the candle besides his face, so she could identify him in the darkness as she looked through the peephole. But what a coincidence, as soon as she opened the door, the electricity had come back.

Most of the time after dinner, he used to switch on the TV and leave it running and fall asleep and it used to be her job to switch it off in the midnight. She used to make fun of him about this. The lady had trouble sleeping and therefore the only job he used to do for her was to bring sleeping pills for her using an old wrinkled prescription. Some medical shops would decline seeing the date on the slip and he would have to approach a few before he could get a couple of strips from an obliging shop or a shopkeeper who didn’t care to see the date.

One day, he had to rush to the doctor on the ground floor as her pressure was low and she couldn’t get up. The doctor when he heard Jagan, in surprise and  shock asked. “which lady are you referring to?“. The lady in Flat 202 on the second floor was Jagan’s reply. The doctor got up immediately and came upstairs with Jagan, and when they went to her room, she was not to be found. They searched for her everywhere, but just as the doctor had thought, she was a faint apparition of her self that passed away an year ago.

It was now Jagan’s turn to look surprised and worried as he heard the story and packed his bags with the doctor in attendance all the while. He thanked the doctor and bid adieu to his accommodation of few months, his mind full of turmoil, and as he walked on the pavement, he just looked upwards at the balcony, did he see an apparition of the old lady waiving lovingly at him? He averted his eyes, was it fear or something else which made him look down, he never knew. At least, he was still in her good books, he thought.

He hurried knowing he had to find Mr. Ram one of these days and then wondered if he would ever find him…

old lady
Pic Courtesy: Shutterstock

My Dog Charlie

charlie2
My Dog Charlie

Charlie, came into our lives the same month I got married. He was just 2 weeks old when one of my relations handed him over to us and he adapted to his life with the new surroundings. There was our Tom cat whom we used to call Mani with us for the last 2 years before the little dog arrived.

Initially Charlie used to play with Mani, but somehow the cat was not very amused to see the attention getting diverted to the new visitor. Once he tried to put his paw at Charlie, and from thereon the dog was careful in his interaction with Mani. Mani as tom cats do, slowly used to disappear and would come back once a week and thereafter his frequency decreased to a month and then he never came back again.

Within leaps and bounds, in a matter of a year Charlie grew up and was seen in almost all corners of our one acre land. You could see him smelling something at one corner, and the next minute he would be standing just next to you. He was a dog seen in all places within the well defined boundary walls of the compound that had a pond and many palm and arecanut trees and a few cashew and jack fruit trees.

When we used to call him, he used to run across to us in a fluid motion with his mane flowing. Most of the time he would collide with me as he rarely could bring himself to a complete halt.One of our past time was me putting my hand in his mouth an he trying to bite playfully with the right amount of pressure applied.

In the initial stages, he loved to take a bath especially in the summer days, but as he aged, it was a bit difficult to entice him for the bath. Sometimes he would run away before the first cup of water was poured over him, and sometimes he would vanish after the  soap was put all over. But somehow I would manage to grapple with him and bring him back to the bath stand and because of the love he would stand still and take the bath, maybe, because he did not want to hurt me or any person in the family, who was trying to clean him.

In the night, he was left to roam the compound and during the day, he was sent to his kennel, the only way to entice him to it, was to either bring his breakfast or his lunch. He would run from wherever he was, the moment he heard the sound of his steel container, as that meant, his food was ready.

Dogs rarely like anybody touching their plate, once it is handed over to them, and this was true with Charlie too, as he would growl and show his teeth, if your hand went anywhere near his tiffin once he had started eating.

Dogs also know who is the real master of the house, and that way, he first respected my father and mother and then us in that order.

He was vaccinated only twice in his entire life of 13 years with us. Once I remember, I had to close his barking mouth, since he was not very keen to get the injection the first time when he was around 1 year old. But I could see the trust in his eyes, as I closed his jaw, saying silently to me, “I am not bothered what the doc does to me, as long as you are close to me and wish me well”.

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The pond in the compound would see him standing at the edge and looking into it, maybe looking at the tortoise or the fish that used to come near the edge. He rarely was engrossed for long in any particular thing and would move on to the next thing that interested him.

While my father watered the plants and the palm trees, he would run around or stay around, but would rush with great speed towards the gate, the moment he heard someone touching the latch on our gate. That way we used to keep our gate closed and had to take him to his kennel before letting our guests in.

Since he was seen strolling freely most of the afternoon times especially in the summer, all visitors would call out to us at the gate just to make sure that Charlie was not anywhere near.

One day, I remember, I came home late in the night, and my parents had locked the gate as I had told them, I will be sleeping at the office and be coming in the morning. As I came near the gate, Charlie made those funny squeaky noise especially when he spotted a loved one. But I wanted him to bark at me, so that my father would be alerted. But he just lingered for a few moments and vanished and finally I had to climb over and jump into our compound. I was a bit worried though, as to how he would react to me  scaling and jumping over. But then, he had disappeared into the darkness..

pond2

After the first few years, myself and my family moved to the middle east and would see him only once in a year, and you could see the joy as he saw us when ever we came back. Leaving him after the vacation was heart wrenching for me, as was to the whole family.

My parents took good care of him, and he turned out to be their second son in my absence and mother would say to me, “taking care of him, sometimes would neutralize your absence “. The last years, was not good for him, as my parents had to leave him alone at the house with the care taker coming twice a day to feed him. The absence of his loved ones for one month or so in the last 2 years left him a bit gloomy and depressed. Though I came back, 2 years before he breathed his last, because of relocation to the city, my visits to him also went down.

My parents had gone to meet my sister and during that time, he contracted some illness and stopped eating for 2 days, and on the third day, I reached and gave him medicine to help him recover from his ailment. He was also running a fever. I knew he was going through his last moments. Dad arrived that evening without my mother as she planned to stay for a few more weeks at my sister’s place.

Dad gave him some food in the evening which he took, he must have been really overjoyed to see him back, the master of the house,  despite his illness and happy that he could rest in peace. That very day, during the night he passed away leaving a vacuum in our lives. My mother was really sad but in a way consoled herself that she was not there, as it would have been heart breaking for her.

It has been around 5 years since he left us, but to us, he was to us, a great pet and shall ever remain etched in our memory till the very last…

Balance Lost

The crow craned his neck to look at me
the alley cat with inquiring eyes wondered
as to what was wrong as I stepped out
the clumsy dog who normally lifted his ears
upon my sight, today got up fully confused.

I knew, something was wrong with poor me
my legs refusing to anchor me as I walked
and when I fell, all animal kind fled away
except the dog who came running to me,
and barked at all and licked my fallen face…

Lost forever

There never was and never will be
any one dear to me as you were
but it took long years to know it
now that you are no more with me
How will I reciprocate the feeling
that now criss crosses my mind
now that you are not there…

It took years for the love to mature
just as good old wine with sweetness
that fermented and lingered
How can I now raise a toast to you
to commend you on your support
etching those memoirs in my mind
now that you are not there…

The Wait

The train has arrived and the long wait over
on the station you have been in attendance
as always, every day to meet your beloved
did she consent to meet you one more time?

Quarrelsome that you were, with a bad past
you had made amends, now that you had aged
you survey the passengers slowly getting down
in the darkened dusk, wonder where she was?

All these days, with a distant promise from her
with all bliss, you came everyday to receive her
she was  sure to visit you, or so you thought
will I live long to see her just one more time?

With a heavy mind carrying a bundle of thoughts
now that the train had left today with all hopes
you start walking out when someone pats you
as you turn, are you surprised to see her again?

 

shutterstock
Pic Courtesy: Shutterstock

When Life is tough

When you see a poor old woman
looking at her scanty store
she counts them through tears
when she is short by a penny
then life is tough.

When the winds batter you days on
the water having flooded your house
when there is no life in sight
to pull out your drowned self
then life is tough.

When you see a little girl in pain
who picks rags for a living
crying out to her dear mother
when she prods her to pick more
then life is tough.

When the little abandoned dog
in the rain, with nothing to eat
and nowhere to go, knowing not
what to do and looks at you
as a savior, when you ignore him
then life is tough.

When the hungry come to your door
and ask you for a pan of gruel
and you turn them away
saying the meal isn’t  ready
when you just had your fill
then life is tough..