My gaze was fixed on the main deity of the Sringeri Sharadambal temple; She had the power to encapsulate my very existence with that divine sight. I only wished She would come to life for a split second and embrace me into Her fold; Her eyes had such a might. But then, that is what all the learned men, the so called sages have been praying all life for that split second darshan. She could destroy anybody with that glance, and equally, bring any inanimate object to life with the minimum of fuss. The all pervading being had everything within Her control; Her simple glance encompassing so many facets of life. Simplicity and majesty are two words that can lend a paradoxical touch when describing someone, but She had both these qualities embedded within Her in such a way that it is very easy for a normal being to identify distinctly the difference. I closed my eyes in front of Her. What can I ask Her? She knew everything that I wanted. I prostrated before Her, flat on the ground, without any idea of what was happening around me. I could really understand the feeling of being in trance.
I came out of the main sanctum to the open space, where my friends were waiting for me. "Where were you?" asked Anand. "Oh, I was lost in Her divine presence." "We are starving, let's get to the main dining hall." shouted Kanna. "Yeah, let's get moving. We just can't keep waiting for you forever." said Prasad. I just nodded my head in an absolute sense of subconciousness and moved ahead. My glance suddenly fell on her. She was the only one standing right opposite our end. She looked to be a perfectly simple being. She was clad in a traditional saree, the colour of which can be likened to that of a mango pulp. She had grown her hair long, and there were exactly two strands of her hair jutting out from the back right across her cheeks. She used her tiny finger to get them back in place, though the effect was not as pronounced, as it slipped back in the light breeze. I understood the meaning of the term lotus eyed for the first time in my life. She stood there as if not interested in anything, just looking at the wide expanse of the vast sky with not so many birds flying high. She caught sight of me staring at her, and I could sense the gleam in her eyes. It was unforgettable. Suddenly, I heard a voice from the background....lunch....get going!!!
The railway station was totally jam packed. There was not a place to move around in the main station. I had to get onto platform #1 which was not too far off from the entrance. But the main hall was packed with almost the whole of Bangalore. I had to go to Madras for the weekend, and I had serious doubts of going ahead with the journey in spite of having a ticket in the night train. Friday night is not a good time for short distance travel, my friends had remarked. Everyone in the station was shouting at the top of his voice. I could not hear a thing. The announcement through the speakers could hardly catch my attention. I was straining my ears to find out if the train was on time. If it was, then I could as well forget my travel plan. There was no way that I was going to get onto the platform on time.
Against all odds, I made it to the platform on time. Now, it was the time to find the right compartment. I hustled and bustled taking note of every compartment on the outside to find out if it was the right one. I was relieved to find mine quickly. I just wanted to get in, shut my ears, be totally oblivious of what is happening outside, pull out my blanket and get to sleep. I was just making my way into the compartment to find my seat, clutching my shoulder cum hand bag, when right in front of me she stood there. I just could not believe my luck. There she was, when I least expected her to come, in the middle of such a big crowd. Her black T-shirt was generating so much radiance, contrary to the laws of physics, where black objects were supposed to absorb everything. "Excuse me!", she said with a clear voice. I just stepped aside to see her moving away from me. I got my seat but lost my sleep for the night.
The British Council Library on St. Mark's street in Bangalore is not a highly imposing structure, but has an elegance that beckons me to visit the library on a regular basis. A yearly subscription allowed me to borrow three books of my choice at a time, also giving me fifteen days to read and give them back. That was the time when an online system was not in place, and so a physical presence was deemed mandatory for the renewal of books and cassettes. Remember, it was some time into the past, and so there was no choice but to borrow only cassettes. DVDs were unheard of! I took a couple of Shakespearean classics (As you like it and The merchant of Venice to be precise) and a Jeffrey Archer novel to beat my boredom. Not that my job life was treating me easy, but the pleasure of reading books elevated me to a high.
I was standing in the queue to borrow the books, and get the entries done. Waiting in lines always seemed an eternity to me, what with heights of restlessness creating havoc in me. I was not the poetic kind of person, to observe other people when you had no job to do, note down their mannerisms and then blog them in detail. No way, that was just not my job. Luckily, as I feared a bout of restlessness about to take over, the lady at the counter called me. She noted down the books I had taken, told me to return the books in two weeks' time and was kind enough to wish me good reading. I gave a beaming smile and turned around to see her waiting behind me in the line. Now, who in the world told me not to observe people when waiting in a queue. Both of us exchanged fleeting glances along with a smile, a smile which had the Should I smile or not written all over it at both ends. Now, now, wish I had been poetic!
Yes, I had done it. Finally, my boss came over to me and told me that I was in line for a bonus, a promotion and an increment. That is one of the few happy moments in the corporate world, and I was feeling on top of the world. He said that the management was extremely happy with my progress and they had no choice but to offer me the said incentives. It was not easy to obtain even one of the three easily, but to get everything at the same time just left me spellbound. I just had to call up my parents to inform them, but I held back in time. It would be wonderful to surprise them on the face, I thought.
It was a long ride back from office. As such, the Bangalore traffic can leave you gasping for breath taking a long time to commute from one end to the other, and on such a day, I felt I was riding for eternity. It was so difficult to contain my excitement and I just wanted to meet my parents quickly to share the good news. I was waiting for the signal light to turn green at one of the numerous signal junctions. It was frustrating. To top it all, it had to rain at that instant. Small pools were getting created on the roads. Across the road, at the bus stop, I could see a little kid playing with her mother. She was totally at bliss in the pouring rain. What a contrast of emotions, I thought. Her mother turned around, and I was staring at her face. I was lost for words. My love affair had ended even before it had begun.
I reached home, and almost instantaneously, my mother asked me "What's wrong?" I replied gruffly, "No, nothing, just a bad day in office."
I decided to do my Masters from a good engineering school in the United States. I had got bored with the monotony of job life, and I thought that it was time to do something different. The application process and all other formalities taken care off, also fortunate enough to get my F1 visa cleared in the first attempt at Madras, I was all set to take off to the States. My parents had organized a small get together in a good restaurant at Bangalore.
I happened to meet my father's good old friend during the party. "Even, my daughter is going to the US to do her Masters", he said in typical South Indian style. "She has also got a scholarship. She will be traveling on the fifth of August by Lufthansa from Bangalore with a stop over at Frankfurt. She will be pursuing her Masters from so and so university." I was surprised for a second. "Sir, I too, am going to the same university", I said. Immediately, he called his daughter, and I had no words to say as I stood staring at her again, for the nth time in my life. "Oh, it is nice to see you pursuing higher education even after marriage", I said. Both, father and daughter burst out laughing, and then I realized, that I must have faced a typical Hindi movie scenario. I felt totally embarrassed. Anyways, "Sahana, that's my name", she said. "Ravi", I said.
It just blossoms...