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  • Wednesday, 16 January 2008

    Anaatha aka Orphan

    Prahladachar woke up at first light. He was the first one to be up in his small village, everyday. He was up even before the earliest farm hand in the village. Unlike the farmers and farm hands, he had chores to finish before he left home for the day. He had to be early.

    He got up, went to the back yard. Drew two large kodas of water from the well. He finished his morning ablutions muttering the mantras in an undertone as he had done thousands of times in his life. Then he drew two more kodas of water and had his bath. All these actions were done according to either the scriptures or tradition or what his father had taught him. He would not perhaps know where one ended and the other began. It was one continuum. Practice had made it a routine without a variation if not perfect.

    On the rare occasion that he did think about his daily routine, he was satisfied. He might not be as learned as some other priests, but no one could question his sincerity. No one, in fact, did.

    He was a well known figure in the neighbouring villages too. Most of them had occasion to see him doing the daily pooja at the Hanuman temple. He had acted as the intermediary between ‘his’ god and the people of the village. He had done this for years and he was a content man.

    As he finished his daily chores and started walking towards the temple, hardly did he realise that this was a momentous day, at least in his life. It looked like any other day, felt like any other day, if he thought about it at all.

    The temple was a good three miles from his home. He had to walk a path through brush jungle, cultivated fields, a cart track and finally what went by the name of a pucca road.

    He turned the last corner that brought him ‘face to face’ with his temple, so familiar, so comforting . .

    He stood there transfixed. Shocked. Disbelieving. The small door of the small temple stood ajar. The chain was hanging loose from one of the doors. Had he forgotten to lock the temple up the previous day? No. He remembered having done it, like any other day of his life.

    As he got over the shock and dismay, he hurried towards the temple. He could see that the strong Aligarh lock was lying right at the threshold, shattered. Some miscreants had burgled the mighty god’s very temple. He peered into the temple to see, what had been stolen. Well, everything was! Including the small white piece of cloth. What was left was worthless – a jar of kunkum, a tin of camphor, matches, agarbattis…

    Then anger, nay, rage replaced the dismay and confusion. The thought that here was the almighty god, on whom he had relied all these years for protection, was unable to defend and save even his own langoti (loin cloth)! He decided, at that very instant, even without being aware of it, that was the last day he was doing pooja at that temple. And so it was. He stomped away from the place for good.

    The villagers saw him withdraw into himself. A lost look on his face, he went about his days as a man betrayed. He continued to follow the daily rituals, at home, as before, but never entered his once favourite temple again. He even avoided that road.

    He lived on the small piece of dry land and what it grudgingly yielded, and earnings from teaching Samskrita and Kannada to some interested students, for the rest of his life.



    Note: This is a story from real life, from about a century ago. The name of the priest and details are imaginary.

    7 comments:

    Starry-eyed Shruti said...

    God is within us. That's something we all forget. Ahem...a very debatable subject!! So, let's leave it at that.

    Now this post was written exceptionally well(I mean, the imaginary detail)!!

    Indi said...

    Anil,
    Loved the story ; was sad to know it was real, albeit a century ago.

    I would love to post this at www.indimag.com (with you as the author). We are a nascent weeks old blogazine with about 10 authors. Requesting permission to cross-post or better if you want to join and cross-post yourself..

    Anil Jagalur said...

    Indi,

    Delighted. Please cross-post. I tried to join but could not figure out how. I hope it is because I am in a bit of a hurry. I would love to join, when I have a little more time, hopefully tomorrow.

    In the mean time please go ahead.

    Indi said...

    Anil,
    Sorry, duty beckoned -- udharam bharanartham, I was traveling. :-) .

    I will create your ID and cross post this. Watch for it later at www.indimag.com and comment. When you do comment be sure to check the Comment-luv checkbox, it will list your last post as a hyperlink beneath your comment..

    I will use a dummy email id for now. Please mail to indimag@gmail.com and I wil mail you the login details and update the site as well..

    Ravi Lobo said...

    Hello Anil,

    Got the link for this story from Indimag. Very nicely written. I like your style of writing.

    Gulmohar said...

    Anil,
    We featured your post on our TOP-5 picks

    http://www.indimag.com/2010/01/29/top-5-january-31-2010/comment-page-1/#comment-1237

    shambhavi said...

    hello Anil,

    I like the story, and your style of writing beats many others I know. Simple, clear and effective. Look forward to reading more.