Love or Death – part 2
Next day I woke up at 10 and hurried to get ready and reached Mrs. Rajput’s residence by quarter past 11.
“Hey, so you are here. I was just going to call at your grandfather’s place.” The girl was standing in the veranda wearing a blue Salwar Kameez. Her hair were left open. “Let me knot my hair and than we are ready to go.” She said. Her hair were curly and dark, not very long. “Shall it be OK with you if we walk or should I take the bike?” I asked her. “No-no we can walk. Leave the bike here only.” She said smiling. When she smiled dimples came up on her cheeks. “So where are we headed to?” She asked. “Today, we will go to Naageshwer. Its just 2 kilometres from here.” We were already walking. While walking one thing I noticed about her was the way she carried herself. She was a tall girl. Her height was nearly equal to mine.
“You know” I started “this whole place was once the property of my mother’s grandfather, but he donated it to the municipal corporation because the well situated there was the main source of water supply for whole village.”
The path to Naageshwer was a trail amidst the vegetation mainly consisting of acacia and neem. Very few people visited Naageshwer at this time of day so both of us were almost alone. One noticeable thing about her was that she was always concerned about her hair. Maybe because I was around or she was like that only. She kept touching the knot of her hair and would tuck back the locks of her hair behind her ears.
“You know 8-10 years ago this place was covered with lots of mango trees and was full of snakes.” I told her. “What happened then?” she asked with a childlike innocence in her voice. “This place is identified as one which would be drowned by the backwaters due to the Sardar Sarovar dam. So the government decided to chop down the trees, as they would die if water flooded the area. Eventually it was done 15 years in advance. There is still no sign of backwaters. You know how it works in this country.” I explained her, the situation. I still remember when I visited this place as a kid the huge mango trees seemed as giants to me. The cover of the trees was so heavy at some places that sunlight didn’t reached the ground there, just like the rain forests. But all that was turned into a wasteland. “So sad, it could have been done much later.” The concern in her voice was very clear.
“That’s the way government works. Now most of this place is leased and majority of tenants don’t use it. But some others have put it to a very good use.” I told her as we made our way along the trail through the shrubs to a clear open field in front of us.
The sight in front of us amazed her. Her eyes were wide open. The expressions on her face were like that of a child who just got the whole toy store as a birth day present.
This part of land was used to cultivate sunflowers. Rows of plants, with flowers pointing to the Sun, seemed like children asking for blessings from their father. She ran into the field. Beyond the fields stood a tower worn out by the tide of time and a temple complex to its left. What made the temple look apart from the surroundings was the vegetation around it. No mango tree from the temple was cut down; hence even from a distance one could differentiate the temple complex from the fields and arid wasteland around it. Life giving river Narmada flowed on the other side of the temple.
I crossed the field to reach the temple. She was still among the sunflowers. The yellow sunflowers, against the background of her blue dress, presented spectacle of a sky on which numerous suns have came out to celebrate the joy of life.
She came running towards me. “I have never seen such a sight in my whole life.” She displayed enigmatic excitement. “There’s lot more to see.” I pumped up the excitement in her as I said this. Curiosity was evident from her radiant face. She stood there for a while as I said that. I noticed that a curly strand of her hair was hovering around her eyes and yet she was not even bothered. It was the first time that I noticed the colour of her eyes; they were green. Green and ornate, as emeralds would be. Her eyes were damp all the time, but this dampness did not reflected any sorrow or grief. Her eyes were placid and deep. They reflected the depth of hers. The dampness in her eyes presented a serene sensitiveness. They seemed as brilliant green emeralds immersed in a sea of tranquillity.
The temples were dedicated to lord Shiva. They were built about a thousand years ago. They were not ordinary temples. Instead of the standard dome, one of the temples had 2 pyramid like structures above its central chamber. One exactly above the lingum and other above the place where the devotee would sit.
“This is amazing. And what’s that tower?” she asked. “This tower was built for Rani Roopmati. You see those hills out there.” I said pointing towards east. “That’s Mandu. The Rani was from Dharampuri and when she was married to Baz Bahadur, the king of this region, she had to move to Mandu. It was his capital at that time. But she would not eat her meal before worshiping her beloved goddess ‘River Narmada’. To fulfil this wish of hers the king built this tower at the bank of the river and appointed a staff. Each day when the Sun would set a huge lamp kept at the top of the tower was lit. The light of this lamp was visible from Mandu. The Rani would worship Narmada every evening.” As I told this to her we were already climbing the stairs of the tower. “This is the place where the lamp was kept,” I said pointing to the raised platform at the top of the tower.
“Hey Rohan, what’s that?” she asked pointing to a large landmass surrounded by the river on all the sides. “Oh that. Its Bet, an island. It’s about one and a half kilometre long and half that wide. It’s covered with forest and there’s a ghat on the other side.” I was thorough with my information about Bet, as I loved going there. I knew what was on her mind so I answered even before she asked. “We’ll go there tomorrow.”
The Sun was bright and exactly overhead. The breeze picked up a little pace and at the top of the tower it was even faster. The two of us stayed there for how long, I don’t know. We talked about each damn thing that we could. Politics, Philosophy, Arts, Science, Culture and God knows what more.
“You know, there is always a cause and effect relationship for every creation. But thinking of God, I always wondered who created God?” I asked looking towards the sky. The Sun was now behind the western wall of the tower top against which we were sitting. I was looking at a faint body in the sky, which was Moon. It was visible in day during this time of year, although it was very dull.
“Even I was baffled by the same question sometime ago. But I found a very convincing answer in a book written by Swami Paramhansa Yogananda. He says that when you’re inside something you cannot make out how it would appear from the outside. Just like a fish living in pond cannot realise what does the pond looks like from the outside similarly we live in a world governed by the rules of causation, that you just stated, and due to the fact that we are governed by causation we cannot imagine anything that’s beyond causation. This is why we ask questions about the creation of God.” She explained. It was amazing how she had the precise answers to all my queries. We kept talking and talking…
“One thing that I always think is, what draws line between sadness and happiness?” now it was her turn to ask. “This is very much related to what I told you yesterday. What I think is that there is nothing as being sad or happy. These are relative terms. The thing that makes the difference is the reference you chose. Like in ancient times the Earth was considered to be the centre of the Universe and stationary. Now the Sun is taken as the point of reference for the motion of the Earth. But even the Sun is not stationary. Similarly with time and spaces the definitions of happiness and sadness change.” I explained her. She went ahead with it “Ya, that’s what you said yesterday. ‘We tend to classify things’ but there exists no such classification.” “Exactly” I said. The understanding developed between her and me overwhelmed me.
Since neither of us had cell phones or watches, the time seemed to have stopped for us. The light was getting dimmer and the sunflowers were now about to bid goodbye to their father. The breeze dropped to a zephyr. I asked her to leave for the village. She was not ready to go back. She asked me to take her to my farm, which was near by. We walked to the farm as the huge yellow ball of fire turned orange in the western sky. Now was the time when you can directly look into the eyes of the Sun. We walked through the farms, some of them were just ploughed others, sown with wheat. A smoke was rising on the horizon as someone was preparing the fire for the dinner.
We crossed the dry river bed of river Khuj, a tributary of Narmada to reach the farm. We kept talking all along the way. Some people would say that she lacked the spark or being more precise she was not cool and sexy. But if you ask me she was sexy in her own way. When she spoke, her voice, the way she used her words and the minute modulations in her voice were like poetry to the ears. This was what made her sexy.