Who said rain was non-traceable??
Sitting at the edge of the balcony,gaping at the so-called phenomenon, I was in turmoil over the traceability of the rain. The raindrops from the sunshade drifted to the ground and collectively dashed like a snake, down the hill. And at the view where the flow reached the river, close to the shore, I saw Swarnamma’s home. The place was a bit distant from my position, more distant than one could reach in time catalogued, yet I saw it. The self imposed verdict over the traceability of rain dropped me at the memories of Swarnamma- ‘Mad Swarnamma’,like the other world called. Me,for the first time in my life,wished to be thrown into rain,travel like a serpent and reach there. Why bother about the height ..!! The only difference between the topmost point and bottom ground is just that one fall.
The evening was turning the pages for the next chapter and it was soon approaching. The scent of Agarbathi’s from the prayer hall lifted me. I prepared myself to fly. But some senses which were not so high,helped to adjourn the idea
I decided to walk,instead.
I was walking downhill,fully drenched in cold rain water. I heard a lot of indecent laughters all around me. My senses,whom helped me to avoid the jump once again got my back. I waved of those laughters. My fists clenched a brown cover consisting of some colored candles. I couldn’t loose my grip because I needed those more than anything,for something I’m about to do today was so much sacred.
I tried to roll-back my memory for quite a long bit. It was some time long ago. I was cycling back from school, on another rainy day, and I saw her standing near a shallow water channel with a stray dog. I’ve heard my parents,friends and neighbours blabbering about ‘Mad Swarnamma’ a lot,but it was for the first time I was seeing her. Thin flat body,sun-tanned cheeks,shrunken little head with glimpses of silvery hair. She was trying to drink that dirty water.
“Do you want help??” I asked her,boarding down from my cycle.
She let her dull eyes fall upon me. She smiled,an innocent smile. She was either wondering what help could this 12yr boy could shower upon her or she was thanking me in advance. I got my water bottle and passed it to her.
“I’m always thirsty my son, I don’t know why,but the truth is I am”. she spoked in between gulping my mineralised water. And that day,like many other days to come, I gave her my lunch which was uneaten. I did it not because of self pity,but because I felt a bizarre affection with her. I felt I’ve seen her before, I couldn’t remember when; maybe in some wonderful dream where she was younger,brighter and beautiful. Days followed and my lunch box briefed her appetite for a long time. One day after when I gave her the lunch box,she pulled me closer to her and asked me’
“My son,don’t you think I’m mad ??”
I knew the answer,but I felt like keeping my mouth shut. She may mistook that for a question of higher standard for a child.
She smiled at me and said, “My son,I’m not mad. I am the widow of the priest who recited prayers for Lord Shiva in our village temple. He got drowned in our temple pond some 20 years back and they blamed my stars for it. And locking down the temple pond added to my woes. I lost the track of myself.”
I simply stared at her.
“These people” she continued, “they made me what I’m today-Mad Swarnamma. But I don’t know why I behave like mad. You know, everybody has got a secret world inside them,you and I and all have got one. Each world is like a cave of formidable walls whose entrance is known for the soul only. No matter how dull,boring,strange they’re outside,inside them,they’ve got wonderful,merry and unimaginable worlds. I’m acting mad sometimes,may be because I’ve got many of such words inside me.”
I continued to stare at her. I was getting enamoured to this old lady. But as years passed, my conscience wrapped her in my unconscious. Slowly, I started to forget her.
I was walking slowly,absorbing every drop washing me. I passed the ground, the temple and the temple pond,which no longer existed. She was drowned in it just like her husband.
I remember the last time I saw her. I was around 20 years or so and it was almost 2 or 3 years since I’ve seen her. It was another fiery rainy night and I was walking to home,after a second show. I saw a thin figure walking towards the temple pond compound. It was Swarnamma.
“Swarnamma,where are you going?”. I enquired.
“oh my dear son, I need to go, Lord Shiva and my late husband appeared in my dream and they said that the misery of this pond will be soon lifted up once I swim across it and look,I’m ready” She said in her weak sound,but the enthusiasm in it was astounding.
“No Swarnamma,you’re not doing that.” I said harshly.
She smiled faintly and said “Son, I’m a devotee of Lord Shiva and he resides in here. He’ll take care of me. You see those big lotus flowers”,she pointed to the middle of the pond. “I’ll get those for you my son.” Saying this she continued her weak,yet resolute steps.
I could’ve stopped her. But something from my inside urged me to not do so. She entered the pond compound and I waited outside. The Trishul model gate promised me she’ll come back safe.
Promise was broken. Much to the dismay of Lord Shiva and myself she drowned. I cried openly. I had never learnt to control my emotions. In case if I had,what difference could it make myself from being a totalitarian.
Her death had immense importance in our society than expected. Soon after her death,the water in the pond started to vapour out. It seemed to me like her thirsty soul sucked out the entire water in the pond.
Anyway I never missed on her. She continued to wander in the realm of my dreams. But soon I understood, I want a way out from this.
I reached her house. It was a bit marshy earth and I struggled to keep up my steps. I lit the candles and the aroma of the coloured chemicals in the candle was spread.
“My dear old lady, I need a liberation from you. You can stop me,stop me from leaving you,stop me from the entrance of reality. But I need to go and I’m asking this out of the memory of what we’ve shared together,I’m asking your permission to leave. My dear friend of those worthy days,please help me leave you.”
The aroma of candles were getting thicker. It reached a stage were the smell was indistinguishable. And at last the smell turned out to be the smell of lotus flowers.
I walked back home.