She got down from the bus. It had been a long time since she'd visited the hill. Considered a part of a growing city. Tranported back a few years, she recounted the wonderful time spent at a hill-station in the north-east. Nine years have gone by me, she surmised.
They walked to the counter where one had to deposit footwear. After shaking their feet free, they neared the entrance of the temple.
The weather was perfect, clouds were within the limits of the hand, a low temperature which did make a few people shiver in their clothes. A variety lay before them. Colours-pinks, greens , blues, whites, yellows, reds... Textures-cottons, silks, polyesters, wool.... Amongst the various shades of brown that coloured different bodies and faces, indicative of their origin. Reasonably.
She accompanied five others to the temple. There was a line snaking in neatly arranged barricades. After a few minutes of discussion they decided to join the queue. Somebody told that the wait would not be a long one. Anyways there was a lot to be exchanged. Recipes... movies... the whereabouts of a lone cousin... future prospects... The group had come together after a distant period of time.
The wait began. The women looked back now and then. When the men joined the discussion, enriching the git-mit of the crowd. Some additions, some deletions, some clarifications, some specifications to the ongoing talk. She mentioned words occasionally. By and when she was jolted from her reverie, by the loud voices around her.
A mobile started ringing, a popular film track played on untill the call was recieved. 'Hello! How are you? I'm here.....' A bunch of college students chatted rapidly, answering and questioning at the same. An aged lady walked with footsteps laid carefully, supported by a walking stick.
She was asked, 'You must be enjoying the weather... right?' In reply, she nodded. Soft raindrops poured from the heavy sky intermittantly. Grey-blue clouds hid the sunshine. Walking barefoot she entered the temple-complex. The slabs of stone around her felt cold. Floating clouds hid the main tower, and the walls which limited the temple.
The temple was old, she was told. 'About 800 years or so.... Imagine how labourers transported huge blocks of stone. In the absence of motorized vehicles...' She listened further. Tourists never miss this place, she assumed. In accordance she saw a couple of white-skinned people emerge out. They had a bright red dot of vermillion on their forehead. Bright against a pale exterior.
While the others' prayed to the goddess, with heads bowed in submission, she observed the black idol studded with precious stones. The exuberance, the brilliance of the jewels struck her eyes. Sacredness ruled their facial expressions, as the devotees submitted themselves to the almighty. Drowning the incantations of the priests, muttered in a sing-song tenor.
She walked out of the temple proper through a side door. Adjoining shrines attracted quite a number of people. As she out of the complex, she climbed the three steps that lead to a platform. Wet waves of air currents hit her face. 'Aha! This is life', she celebrated.
Wandering in a meandering fashion, she noticed a pariah dog. An elderly man was feeding it with pieces of bread.
Upon hearing her name being called, she blended with those five people. Her soles were dirty. Muddy water clung to her skin. Strapping her footwear on, she strode to the bus-stop. Back to the mundane days ahead.
The sanctity of the moment played on her mind. The goddess had smiled on her. For once, she pushed thoughts which made her weak and vulnerable to the depths of her being.