- How India Post Cemented a Long-Distance Friendship - 22/06/2018
- The Journey - 23/03/2017
- A New Beginning - 02/11/2016
She scanned the list of applicants who had sent in requests to come to meet Her. Reading through the letters, she reviewed each one’s story and assessed the journey they were on, to make a decision of whether to grant them an audience. There were two letters she found intriguing – from a man and a woman. She paused, pondering over the decision of whether to put their names onto the final list of those she would meet and bless. From the lofty heights of her shrine located in the majestic Himalayan mountains, Mata Vaishno Devi watched the two subjects who were the object of her curiosity.
The woman walked slowly in the park, and then, sat down on a bench to relax before heading back home. Just then a man walked briskly in her direction and as he came around, almost in the same minute, they noticed each other.
She felt a familiar shock that sent a tingle up her spine and her heart beat raced. He found himself smiling with pure, clean delight in a way that only looking into those eyes could make him do. Struggling to come to terms with this unforeseen encounter, the questions tumbled out of both of them, as the two old friends sought to catch up on how time had treated them.
He had recently retired from teaching at one of the most prestigious institutes in the country. So, he did pursue his dream, she thought, remembering how he had spelt out his plan to eventually quit the corporate sector and get into teaching. His kids were comfortably settled, pursuing professional and personal lives that were immensely fulfilling. He lived a peaceful life with his wife; he shared with her a camaraderie that was rare between married couples.
Her husband had passed away a few years ago and now that she had no duties towards the family, she had finally found the time to get involved with educating poor kids in the villages.
As daylight faded away, they sat on the bench in the park, two senior citizens, catching up on the 14 years since their last communication. Both silently reveled at the familiar ease with which they conversed, completing each other’s thoughts and sentences, intensely aware of the other’s presence….and wondered why they had let a small misunderstanding come in the way of a relationship that made them both come alive in a way nothing else could.
Neither was the kind to shy away from an honest self-appraisal and so, the talk soon veered around to that misunderstanding. She had expressed a strong dislike of some aspect of the corporate sector. He had taken it as a personal affront. She had apologized and tried to explain her position. He had tried to understand and they seemed to have patched up. But it caused a dent and they slowly drifted apart as they went further on their respective journeys.
Now, sitting on the park bench, they laughed over the incident, gently ribbing each other.
“You were always so quick to react,” she told him.
“Yes, and you always drove me nuts with your sermonizing,” he quipped.
In hindsight, armed with the wisdom that comes with age and experience, they realized how immature that disagreement had been and laughed at how foolish they had been.
Looking at that beloved face, all those years of missing him slipped from her mind. All she could feel was a deep, uncomplicated joy. As he looked into those still-mesmerizing eyes, he felt himself happily drawn in the calm emanating from her gaze.
As they sat talking, that villain called Time sped by. A call from her sister brought her back to reality.
“I’m here for the next two days,” he said.
But neither suggested they meet again within that time or made plans to meet again. They just said they’d keep in touch. Each of them went their separate way, silently sending up a small prayer to Mata Vaishno Devi. Once, long ago, they had made a pact to visit the Mata Vaishno Devi temple together. They knew of the legend of the Goddess – that only the ones She Herself chose are allowed to make that particular pilgrimage.
Hand poised over the list, a smile playing over the face, She contemplated what to do. Will she grant their desire? Time alone will tell.