Tuesday, November 29, 2005


It’s like rubbernecking.

But this time the accident was going to be me. It happened before, and they had promised it would never end, as long as I was to live, they would make sure I lived in fear.

And it had been true. I had lived all along like deer. Afraid of shadows, afraid of everything. And then when I had a family of my own, was afraid for them.

That was one of the biggest reasons why I was here. I did not want to be afraid any more. I did not want to be standing like I was, trembling like a leaf. I had heard the old man who headed this haven say that Death was the only certain thing in our lives, and if we were slowly but surely proceeding towards it, shouldn’t we then prepare ourselves to meet it whenever it chose us.

It is this thought that made me want to look at Death I was certain was standing right there in front of me. And the fact that it had not struck yet. My stomach received my heart with a silent whoosh. Why hadn’t the person struck me yet?

I knew someone was standing there. Although the breath was barely traceable, I knew there was someone there.
I decided to view Death from under the veil of my lashes, making sure I was not moving any other part of my body.

I saw.

I opened my eyes wide.

Standing in front of my was a maroon robed, bald headed, monk in tevas. He was simply standing there, in front of me, silently, waiting for me to open my eyes.


Profound, Manisha, very profound. I kick myself silently.

The smile was less than what qualified as a hint, but it was a smile. Then in a voice that was so soft, city folk would miss it, “You knocked. Don’t you want to go in?”

My jaw dropped. My eyes should have goggled, the situation demanded it, but my eyes are too slant, not big Bharatanatyam dancer like beautiful, as heroines of blogs ought to own, I mean who would want to read about an ugly broad getting killed. Good riddance it would be. But here I was standing in front of a one man rescue team, and thinking disconnected thoughts. Boy! If only he figured out how nervous I was! But I could not stop the stuff crowding. Somewhere in the recesses of the mind popped a Wodehousian description, ‘dyspeptic calf’

I have always wanted to use that description.

He was still waiting.

And I had read too many who-dun-its to let things be.

“I didn’t see the door opening…”

“The door?” he asked, “It is a ceremonial gate. Come with me.”

If his head wasn’t tonsured, and he weren’t wearing the robes, and we weren’t standing where we were, I would have surely thought this was an elaborate gag cooked up by friends who knew I pictured monks as rescuers instead of the standard Shah Rukh Khan as Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford was perfect but too old!)…

Stop thinking. He obviously expected me to follow, because he was walking away.

Weirdo. Did not even ask me why I was standing shivering against a tree, eyes shut. Didn’t even ask me what my name was, who I was…

“People spend a lifetime trying to figure out who they are. Why would I ask you that? And how can I expect you to answer that question?”


He was downloading straight from my brain!

“No. I don’t read minds. Your face is very expressive.”

I rolled my eyes. Lugged my backpack and followed him.

I must have been blind. The well-trodden path was running parallel to the wall and it went by the gate. We walked maybe fifty, or sixty yards.

Stupid, stupid, stupid! How could I have missed such an obvious thing!

He turned around and made a wide sweeping gesture with his hand.

“Please, proceed ahead.”

“Why? Are you not coming?” I had visions again of a classic film goodbye between mysterious guide and traveler.

“Please, proceed.”

Just beyond the clump of trees, the wall ended. We were there! The monastery.

It was all open. There was no need for a gate of any sort. It was well hidden, but open. No wall, no gate, nothing.

I turned around. He was standing there, behind me, grinning ear to ear.

I was not sure I liked being in a monk joke.


Blogger suniti said...

Very intereting. Moves at a good spead. makes me want to know more. Is this part of a whole ?

1:15 AM  

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