Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Seasons and She

Sarla, aged 12 was brought up as a free bird, without any restrictions, though born into a community where a girl child is fastened with umpteen  limitations.

(Limitations in the way how she should - walk, talk, place her hair, modulate her tone of speech,   gaze at people etc.)

Sarla, lives with her grandmother in Kerala, as her parents are away for their livelihood.

As a custom, every morning, Sarla along with her grandmother, visits a nearby Shiva temple for offering their morning prayer.

Conversation between Granny and Sarla on one such fine day:

Sarla :        “Granny, hurry up. It’s time for the Aarti at the temple, and I need to offer my prayers to Lord Shiva for securing scores higher than Vishal in my maths exam.”

Granny:     “Sarla, my baby girl, I am suffering from high temperature and have not taken a shower. So, Granny will not be accompanying you today to the temple. You have to visit Lord Shiva unaccompanied by me. However, do pray for your beloved granny and rush back home fast.”

“Do not talk to any strangers and be very watchful on that deserted narrow road through the fields, which leads to the temple entrance”. (Granny’s voice has a concerned tone now).

“Ok, I shall go by myself and will not talk to strangers. Granny, don't you worry. I can take care of myself!.”

Nodding her head in agreement to her granny's advice, Sarla rushes to the temple, hopping, with a little bag on her shoulder, which has flowers and incense sticks as offerings to Lord Shiva.

Sarla has worn a silk white skirt and a pretty embroidered white blouse. Her  long hair is braided beautifully with a red rose pinned in the middle.

Sarla has to cross a scenic green field, which takes her to the temple entrance.
As Sarla crosses the deserted green field, she looks around her with amazement.

“Looks like it’s a special day today. The nature is at its full bloom.” 

“Ah! Nature looks so gorgeous. Is it all because of me?” “It looks like the lady nature is welcoming me.”  She says in amazement.

She watches a bunch of butterflies circling around the blooms which are about to flower. 

The flowers happily sway in the field as the wind passes through. She sees leafless trees coming to life with naïve leaves on it.

“Aha! How beautiful and comforting, a sight is that!”. Sarla in her amazement exclaims joyfully,  witnessing the way of mother nature.

Birds are chirping in their sweetest tone ever. The wind soothingly fondles Sarla as if it is caressing her.

This is the first time, Sarla noticing mother nature in such little proximity. 

“What is so special today? Let me reach home and then I will ask Granny.” Her young heart pounds.

At the same time, Granny is worried, as Sarla hasn’t reached home as yet. The medicines have its effect. Granny slowly glides into a nap.

Aaah, Grannieee! Um..Hmm…eeee!  A cry awakens the granny from her nap.

She jumps out from her nap and rushes to the front yard.

She sees Sarla standing and sobbing. A shiver ran through the granny’s spine as she sees blood stains on Sarla's silky white  skirt.  Though initially shocked, granny regains her posture, embraces her little granddaughter and takes her in for a shower.

Later in the evening, Sarla asks her grandma, “Grandma, why the blood? Am I sick?”

“No my sweetie. Did you notice there in the fields? Did you see the flowers bloom, and the  butterflies hopping from one flower to the other. The season has changed. Right?. 

Likewise, from a little girl, you have blossomed into a beautiful young lady today.” saying thus, she pecks on Sarla's forehead.

And Granny continues “Now during these days you should not wander around too much. You should stay at home and should not visit the holy temple as you are unclean”.

"Unclean?" Huh!  “But granny can you please clarify me something”, scratching her scalp, Sarla probes further in a very pleasing manner.

“Ask me, my baby girl”, the gray-haired granny lovingly runs her fingers through Sarla’s hair and waits for her to ask the question.

“You say that I should not  enter the temple as I am unclean.  But then Lord Shiva himself is “ardhanareeshwar", so do God undergo these periods?”

Innocence is personified in her question.

“Hmm. Good question, Sarla.” says the granny. But her tone made it very clear that the granny isn’t pleased with Sarla’s question.

Oblivious of the tides of expression on the granny’s face, Sarla continues...

“Again, today in the temple, I have noticed, the senior priest accepting the fees for the Pooja, standing in the Sanctum-Sanctorum. The notes were so filthy and were foul.  I am sure that the notes have travelled its way through the fish and meat market as I saw the blood is smeared on it.  Then how can it be touched by the priest? The notes too are unclean, isn’t it? Are the rules different, for the priest and me?”.

Granny stares at Sarla with a poker face.

Sarla continues “Granny, you have always taught me, that we visit the temple to cleanse our thoughts, right? Also, you have imbibed in me, that every human body is a temple and God lives within.  So how can the body be unclean if God lives within the body?”.

Hearing this, Granny, whose face is tense with anxiety and anger loosens with love and tenderness. She is impressed with the brilliance of Sarla.

She grabs Lil Sarla, kisses on her forehead and whispers into her ears, pulling her long braided hair...

“Sarla, my Lil one, do not talk like an adult. However, this silly Granny is in agreement with your broad thoughts.” " I just wish that people had a broader and a logical mindset on such issues."