The rain had stopped by the afternoon, and the sun came out spreading its golden glow in the valley washed by the rainwater, lighting the peaks of the hills with its soft afternoon light. The wind was still cold, the sunlight was warm, the soil mushy with the rain from the last two days. A few clouds still hovered in the sky above; a warning sign that this spell of untimely rain wasn’t over yet, that more was to come, and come soon. But we were happy for the break in the downpour, for we were getting bored locked up indoors, scooped up inside the blankets, in front of the halogen heaters. We needed to stretch our legs, and feel the cold mountain air on our faces. So we decided to go for a stroll, all four of us, and explore the area around the house, the one with the green roof, on foot.
We put on our jackets, and ventured out. The wind was cold, but refreshing, and it made us happy to be able to walk around on the rain drenched roads and gravelled walkways. We strolled down the main road at first, and then started to explore the side tracks which led to the houses in the village, or into the fields, or into forested areas on the hills.
On one such path, we came by a solitary temple, standing alone on a shoulder of a hill, painted red, a single loudspeaker over its rooftop playing devotional music softly, it’s strains melancholy. The temple was deserted, and me and Vaishali removed our footwear and ventured inside. The sanctum, or the garbha griha, was a single, small room with an idol of the Mother Goddess installed inside it. We prayed to the Mother, the source of all creation, the feminine energy which animates matter, which infuses life into the universe, with bent heads and hands folded into Namaskar.
The children played outside the premises of the temple while we explored the compound. The rear of the temple consisted of a courtyard with a low wall running around it, overlooking a valley. Few potted plants with seasonal flowers dotted the deserted enclosure which opened out on to the dirt track, the one which we had taken to reach the temple, through a rickety iron gate. On one side of the small compound was a ficus tree, tall, and thick, and gnarled, with its canopy covering one side of the temple and then extending beyond the temple premises, its branches reaching out to the sky, its leaves fluttering in the wind, whistling, singing the song which was so familiar to me now…..
We soaked in the ambience for a few minutes, then decided to resume our stroll. As we exited the premises through the old iron gate, hand in hand, I looked at Vaishali, and she at me; our eyes met, and I knew that both of us were thinking the same thing, feeling the same emotion…..that of gratitude, thankfulness, happiness, completeness……thanking God for this present, and past, and future – whatever it may be. We exited the temple, our hearts heavy with happiness, our heads bent in humility….a strange feeling of lightness in our hearts….
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