Thus we reached the Tulsi ghat, talking, skipping, laughing, reminiscing about our days in Varanasi. I talked to the children continuously, and to Vaishali when I could. The steps of the Tulsi ghat lead up to the residence of our senior, V N Mishra, and just before one reaches the top of the steps, to step on to their private property, there is a promontory, a secluded area of the ghat with a banyan tree girded by a stone platform, and a short stone railing that runs around the small enclosure.
Many an evenings have we spent on that secluded area of the ghat. It is an area which is both private and public. The access to the ghat from the road is through the private property of our senior, and hence restricted to a select few. And yet, the view it offers, and the vista that it opens out to, is public, and celestial. In the evenings one can hear the temple bells ring, listen to the pundits chant hymns to the gods, and to Mother Ganga, see them worship the river deity with their clarified butter lamps, enjoy the sights and sounds of an immortal city saying thanks to its gods, all the while looking out over the vast expanse of the languidly flowing waters of the river which descends from the locks of Shiva, the Mahadeva.
One such evening three of us sat together talking, eating, drinking. Evening turned to night, and our talks did not end; maybe it were matters of the heart that were being discussed; memory fails me now. As it got really late, all the sounds of the city, of the temples, of the vagabonds, and even the stray dogs populating the ghats, died down. We still kept talking….creating a minor ruckus. Presently, someone switched on a light inside one of the rooms of the house which adjoins the ghats, and a voice was heard, ‘Who is it?’
It was our senior, Dr V N Mishra. One of us replied tremulously ,’We are students, Sir, from IMS, BHU.’ That introduction was considered enough back in those days.
‘Oh ok.’, came the answer. ‘Continue. Just keep it down, will you?’
‘Yes Sir,’ We replied, grinning sheepishly, at having been caught, and then allowed to indulge in our excesses.
It so happened that all of us slept on that ghat that night, our sleep was disturbed only once when Dr V N Mishra stepped out of his house to cover us with blankets. We have been fans of his generosity ever since.
All this and more flashed through my mind, as I walked on the ghat that day, my children in tow….
To be continued…..
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