Whatever I saw seemed to be experienced by me alone, or as they said imagined by me. They, my strict relatives consisting of many uncles and aunties headed by my grandfather considered me half witted or crazy or even possessed. They even brought in priests to exorcise me. If it was not for my father I would not have survived my childhood at all, but he also couldn’t help much.. he was brought up to respect and accept them and not question back.. But he believed me or so I thought, when I told about seeing mother every day, he would smile and say he saw her too.. although she died long ago.. that made me happy but then he would add that when we love someone so much we tend to think they are with us, when I stressed that I spoke to her every night, he gave me a heavy and sad smile. I was not sure if he believed me, but at least he did not look at me like a strange creature like others.. and that was enough for me.
But when he went to Mumbai to carry on with business, I knew that he was escaping from them, he wanted to take me too. But grand father wouldn’t accept.. the old man seemed to see though his sons plan. So it was decided to let me stay in my ancestral house until my school days are over or until grandpa passes away whichever occurred earliest, and then move to Mumbai with dad. I prayed every night to become 18 soon, but at times I prayed for my grand father to trip and fall, on such nights I would sleep guilty. Kids of my generation were scared of me and avoided me as and when possible. Soon I got acquainted with this loneliness and started making so much out of it..
I wandered aimlessly in my grandfathers plantations. But always met at least one of the workers there and was shooed home. But soon I found my niche in the isolated family temple located on the far corner of the plantation. The temple had a strong legend and people still feared to go near it on mid days and night. The only time the family gathered around the temple was once in a year and then the temple was opened and cleaned and prayed. Other times it remained closed and uncared rendering it a kind of mystic feel. That was where I crashed almost all of the weekends and holidays.
The temple was surrounded my many jasmine vines and tall neam, banyan and coconut trees, and thorny bushes of some unnamed cactus and pineapple. The fruits, coconuts and flowers that blossomed and ripened there was considered to be the deities and never touched. Because of the fear of Grandfather no thief dared to cross the path either. There was a rock facing the temple where I would sit wondering something or the other. The stream of little pond that glided nearby gave the place a Eden like feel, and when the wind blew the place was enriched with the smell of jasmines. Even sunlight seem to be in love with the place giving it an enchanted glow.
But nature was not the thing that pulled me there, it was the legend of the place. The deity there was not the usual God, it was an angel (gandarvan) punished by God, doing his penance there, but instead of involving himself in godly duties, he found himself fall in love with a damsel in the nearby house. (A great great great ancestor of my family). Back in those times, love was true enough to shake the faith of even angels. So they decided to live happily in the world, but a cunning man in the family itself recognized the real identity of the angel and entrapped him in a statue and threatened to kill his lover. So being in love the angel obeyed and stayed in the statue and every full mooned night the lovers meet in the mystic forest.
My rational mind failed to believe it fully but the other part of me was enthralled by the love. I empathized with them and at times when I sat staring at the temple, imagined myself as the lover girl and waited for him to come to me. At those times, I did not bother the wind or even my own hand trespassing improperly. At times I felt uneasy like being watched by someone, and would run home as soon as possible. On a full moon evening is when I first met him, the receding sunlight and the looming full moon both played around the place making the stream sparkle like gold, then a figure “him” walked towards me from the temple guided by the light, he sat near me and smiled, he was a boy in his early twenties, with long hair, sandal wood paste in his forehead, sacred thread around his fair bare chest, he wore only a white dhoti and smelled of sandal. I was in a kind of trance and got up we stood facing each other, he smiling and me dazed. His hands clasped my face and he spoke of waiting for a long time for me and when he was about to kiss, I panicked and ran away.
Nothing he said or did made my doubt go away, for there was something intense in him, when he came near me, when he touched me and there was a look of fierce passion in him that never was there in the eyes of people I met. His passion at times got diffused into the forest too. That day, when his kissing became intense and our breathing shorter I became strangely conscious of the nature and its intensity. The trees shook like they were being rocked to and fro by strong giant hands, the wind gushed brutally in my ears, even the stream flew violently. When the spirited passion got carried back to him, I saw in his eyes the passion and calmness, he looked at me like I belonged to him, I surrendered for the first time in my life to my love, till then I was unaware of the ecstasy of complete surrender to love and never will I ever be.
Next day when I went back to see him, although being aware of the previous night’s storm my heart sank seeing the state of my charmed forest tore down, and below the trunk of the neam tree I found his open hand, moving the truck away I spotted his face, it was the same, unhurt but lifeless. The coldness in the eyes attacked me like a poisoned dagger. I blamed the nature, I cursed god for taking him away from me. I walked back home silently, and next day as I imagined there was no sign of him there and I resented going there anymore. I blamed my eccentric mind for mourning something that never existed. I accepted what others said, it was all in my mind I found them unusually kind towards me, as they helped into the train to Mumbai. After all its easy to blame oneself and the nature than the cold blooded brutal human for separating him from me.