Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meeting Her

She was waiting for me. As soon I laid my eyes on her from a distance I could see her waiting patiently, yet an anxious eagerness filled her grey body as she mildly smiled in the orange sunlight around her. The sun spread his powdered gold on her slow waves and the light caressed her softly with intense love. I went closer to her and she smiled affectionately. She held me in a light embrace with her winds that touched me and soothed my face. I surrendered to her calm invitation. Water was lapping the last step of the ghaat. I went down to the very end and sat on the dried earth that had come with the waves and settled on the bricks. Ganga was flowing by. Pieces of plastic, bottles and other crap were floating down her body and she wore a very dirty colour but still she was pretty, like a woman in love, like a mother. I smiled at her. She was beckoning me into her lap. I went close to her and dipped my feet into her waters. My feet instanty felt the chill of her cold caresses. As if she is so eager, so intent to absorb all the heat in my body and cool me down, give me peace and calm. The cold waters absorbed my feet in their magical adulations. I looked at them. They seemed so happy, as if finally they have found a place to absolve their grim sorrows. A place where they can tell their complaints and grieve over things that cannot be undone. And they slowly lost their heat in the charming coldness. I stared at my own happy feet. For the first time in my entire life, they seemed beautiful to myself. As if they have been loved by the soft waves. Through the water I saw them, resting at perfect peace. The river has cleaned it of all its tired pains and has kissed it with new vigor and beauty. The waves began to rise above the steps now. They crept above my feet and slowly climbed up my legs. Jowar has come. Tides.

Old lady, you have been flowing for ages, for thousands of years. You have been part and parcel of so many stories, of so many lives through hundreds of years. You have touched the shores of almost half India. You have been worshipped, used, molested, cleansed and discarded yet loved and praised. Mother of half the civilization of India; witness and party to history, you flow by with nonchalance and perfect poise. Yet you have broken homes and flooded villages, drowned them all and created something somewhere else. Maker and destroyer. Vaishnavi and Shivangi – patit pavni Ganga. Industrial waste bearer Ganga, an essential way of purgation – your waters – and herein I dip my feet – dirty Ganga, pure Ganga.

I picked up my feet after a long long time and looked at them. They have turned fairer I found and were glistening in the wet sunlight. Red nailpolish adorned my feet in a suhagan way. As if its Ganga who had painted my nails with a lot of care and suhag. I felt like a bride whose feet has been dipped in mehendi or alta before her first grihaprabesh into her new home. And the wet foot marks are supposed to be a ceremonial entrance into a new life. I smiled at my own footprints on the dry steps. Ganga has soothed me, calmed me deep inside and thrown me into a trance. As I had dipped my feet into her waves, I had become a part of her history, her many stories and her essential being. I have Ganga inside me now. Born on Ganga-puja day, my dida always said I belong to her, I am her boon. She has blessed me today and washed my feet, decked them and sent me back to land -- to start a new life, a new tryst; like a daughter to on her bridal journey to an unknown destiny that has been so carefully bred in dreams.

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