It had been a while, so I asked to go to the temple. It is very uncharacteristically characteristic of me. My husband thinks my motivation continues to be the wonderful South Indian food of the temple canteen. Ever so often it is good to be in the company of the almighty. For me it is a place of quiet conversation.
I haven’t always felt at ease in this setting. Today, I move about freely. I know the spot I stop to bow my head, I circle about the Shiva lingum, not once but 7 times. I try to verbalize my list of wants; not exactly what comes to me naturally. I always pray for wisdom to know and do the right thing.
We walk towards the room of Raashis. I have never understood the point of this room. I follow my husband without any reservation. As we await our turn to enter, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet. I see a little girl dressed to the nines in traditional Indian attire. She is absolutely adorable. She catches me looking at her with a huge smile. She smiles back. I look up to see her father holding her tiny hand. I think, they are raising her kindly. She knows to smile at strangers that are smiling at her. It is something I don’t see that often in this part of the world.
We go round this room and leave when the husband is done. My husband makes a few more stops as I wait to end this temple tour on my favorite spot. I don’t feel so out of place anymore. I have my own rituals that feel right to me. I have found my path to communicate with god. Sometimes I just communicate with myself and that suffices.
I am amused to see two very young women amongst the devotees today. They could be Indian, but then maybe not. I cannot tell. I am amused and happy and puzzled. I take myself to my favorite spot. I sit down slowly, painfully aware of my weak knees. I am sitting on the floor in front of the large, center stage Ganesh. I cannot recall the number of times I have sat here in quiet conversation, praying, fighting with god, crying. I have come here at every joyous occasion and wept in full submission to god at my lowest. I have questioned my faith and what I have got for that faith on more than one occasion.
Today I am just happy to be here. I notice the two girls again. I wonder if they are lovers. Are they here for blessings? One of them comes and sits close to me. The other one approaches the priest. I can hear a conversation in English. The priest has asked her to wait as he takes the flowers from her offering. I can tell she is very unsure of the next steps. The girl next to me emanates some tension. I am intrigued. I look back at the girl with the priest. I catch her wiping a tear and my heart feels suddenly broken. I find my own tears well up to the brim.
I wonder what sorrow brings the two girls here. I know I have sat at that very spot vulnerable and miserable wishing no one the pain I have endured. I wonder what is making this girl cry. I wish I can tell her, the pain will become manageable. The girl sitting next to me is now deep in thought, perhaps prayer. I decide I will respect the privacy of these girls and continue my own conversations with god.
Not even a moment later, I see the girl next to me has joined the weeping girl. They are deep in conversation. I wonder if they are just friends, and not lovers after all. I could be that friend to my own childhood friend. My mind wanders to her. I just spoke to her the previous night. I think of all the times I had wished I was with my best friend. I sense my bile rising when I think of all the wrongs she has faced and I wasn’t there to give her a hug, say a prayer with her, let her know that things will be okay over a cup of tea.
I am now crying with audible sniffles. I miss my friend. Perhaps I miss knowing someone has got my own back like the two I see here. I miss close proximity. Whoever said technology has brought us closer is wrong. I would have liked some hugs or a hand on my back as I curled away from the world in my own misery. I would have liked to make endless teas for my friend when she had to do it all alone.
I know my sobbing is pure catharsis. If I can only get another moment of this outburst, I will be much better the rest of the day. I can feel the husband has finally caught the wind. He is worried, but lets me be.
I have finally made that connection with god. I have had my quiet conversation even though it is through tears. I also know that I finally belong.