Climbing the slippery temple steps, with a prayer in her heart, Rama was oblivious to the crowds around her. The peal of bells, the smell of incense permeating the surroundings, set the ambience of the temple. It was a very old temple built in the times of Cholas. Visited by thousands everyday. By those who had faith as well as the skeptics. So walked Rama, jostled by the crowds, some times pushed back. She went right on, not stopping or looking back.
How could she? She had to come here. Had been doing that for 60 days now. Never ever missing any day. Her daughter, Krittika, was in the hospital, in coma for more than 2 months. She was only 7 years old. Had been in that state after a major accident on the highway, while going to UP from Delhi. Lost so much blood. Had a clot in her brain. Rama had lost her son, Rohan, (4 years) and Husband, Shekhar, in that accident. Doctors were not sure about the little girl recovering either. When all is lost, Faith is regained. Rama held on to that for her daughter’s sake.
She reached the santum sanctorum, offered her prayers, bowed in obeisance. Turned back. She felt someone pulling her sari. Looked over. Saw a small boy. He had a sweet cherubic face and reminded her of her son. Lost in the worry for her daughter, she had not been able to grieve for all that was gone from her life. Her husband and son. But now looking at that boy, she felt tears in her eyes. Her grief poured out. She bent down and held that boy in her arms and cried her heart out. And the boy too reached out and with his tiny arms held on to her, comforting her, letting her hold him. So they were thus for sometime. Rama realized after sometime that the boy’s parents must have been missing him. Asked him about them. He pointed towards a pillar, without saying a word. She could not see anyone but the temple was crowded. Before she could ask anything, he was lost somewhere behind that massive pillar.
She went to the hospital, straight from the temple. Found her mother-in-law smiling after a long time. She looked askance. “ Krittika made some movements.” Rohini, her mother-in-law said. “ The doctors are saying she might just recover.” Rama did not know what to say. Just held on to Rohini. Looked at her daughter. She knew her in-laws had lost so much but they were there to comfort her, not leaving her or Krittika’s side.
When she went to temple next day, she searched for that boy, found him, held him talked to him. She had not done that for sometime now. Withdrawn into herself. Her daughter was showing signs of recovery, though it was very slow. But now Rama was not as withdrawn as before. She went on praying, looked out for that boy, related with him. But whenever she asked about his parents, he just smiled and pointed behind the pillars. She did not give it much thought. So it went on for sometime.
Krittika had regained consciousness. Was responding to treatment. The doctors were elated by this turn of events. They talked about miracle. Along with treatment and faith, Krittika was on her way to full recovery. And the day soon came, when she was to be discharged from hospital.
Rama as usual went to the Temple. After offering her prayers, she looked out for that boy. Could not see him anywhere. She was desperate to see him. After all he had given her solace and restored all the love in her heart when she had needed it the most. He was nowhere to be seen.
She went behind the pillar. There was nothing there. Only a wall, which was not from the Chola period. Appeared recently built. She asked around. The oldest Pujari of the temple came out. He smiled sadly after she told him about the boy, describing him. He told her, that the boy was dead for 40 years. Fell down from behind the same pillar. But the Pujari said that he had never seen the boy since that day. But those who needed healing………..and belief……..and faith…………..saw him…as did Rama.
Was he a ghost? Belief? Faith? Own self? Or everything together……….