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Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Walk to the Temple

Monita Soni

By Monita Soni, MD

Recently on my overseas trip to Mumbai, sleep eluded me. It was due to a jet lagged body and a brain on overdrive to keep up with parents’ medical appointments.

My parents live in Vashi, on a strip of reclaimed land by Thane creek.  On my morning walk, the tree lined path abutting their back yard was monsoon -bedazzled. I bid a good morning to lush Mango trees framing our home and weaved my way through spindly Asoka assembly. I felt a light drizzle on my cheeks. I marched on towards the village temple challenging the Monsoon Gods not to drench me.  People were barely stirring in their homes, servants were on their way to pick up milk bags; strays and pet dogs were stretching; hot water geysers were humming ; the cosmos thrummed to Surya Namaskar. 
 
I came face to face with elderly citizens in rain chappals, clutching umbrellas, plucking white blooms for worship. They were chanting mantras as I ventured to involve them in a dialogue, they observed me with half puzzlement; but were not rude and did not mind an intrusion into their morning rituals. I found everything so colorful, multilayered and intensely beguiling, more so after my twenty years sojourn into the organized, clean apparently hygienic western world.
 
I made it a walk to remember! I inhaled in the fascinating tapestry of life in her cosmic rhythm and forgot to exhale. In that never ending moment, I tasted rich color, shape, texture and ether. The winding creepers, broad speckled strappy splendored leaves, jeweled blooms, swathes of grey monsoon clouds, slashes of pink sky peering through serrated palms, not to mention hidden fauna making our planet more livable. Tender coconuts clustered on slippery trunks like unreachable golden orbs. Massive prickly Jack fruit threatened to stone me. Tart green mangoes, colorful cashews and towering trees with prehistoric pendulous bean-pods danced in the mischievous rainfalls. The immersion pond was greenish purple with a spreading carpet of water hyacinth.  So magical! 
 
Black ravens did not swoop down on me. It was too early for house flies and deadly mosquitoes were busy guzzling their blood meals from sleeping Mumbaiites. Village kids with scrubbed faces, school bags and water bottles were skipping to school. Playing hopscotch on colored tiles that mimicked yellow hibiscus, flaming Gul Mohurs, and magenta Bougainvillea.  I could not peel my eyes away from their oiled braids, red ribbons waving like banners of hope. Their familiar ink blue shorts and skirts contrasted with their black eyes and shiny olive skin.  They were happy, I was happy too! 
 
Mud, grime, rubble and filth were everywhere but there was also a gentle acceptance of seasonal wear and tear. The patient grace to thrive despite the mishmash of human refuse was apparent here. My gaze touched careless disarray juxtaposed with stark white virginity of a Frangipani bloom. 
 
The Shiva Temple was in my vision. I was enveloped in a spiritual orb and the numerous walks my mother had taken to this temple were strung together like a garland of prayers threaded by her chanting the Hanuman Chalisa. Golden rays outlined the spare figure of a woman wrapped in a white saree praying at a Banyan alter. A devotee washed the courtyard exposing colorful rangoli mandalas. The air was crisp, the moment was centered. The attitude was drenched in gratitude. I bowed at the vermilion feet of “Maruti -God of winds”. I was home and one with creation in this prayerful moment! 
 
Monita Soni 
 
 
Monita Soni, MD -- A pathologist in Huntsville, Alabama, diagnosing cancer in her day job. Reading and writing poetry is a passion that splashes her literally with a sparkling abundance. She is inspired by great twentieth century poets (Robert Frost, Keats, Browning and Tagore) and ancient Sufi poet like Hafiz, Rumi and Faiz. Her writing style weaves eastern and western cultures. You can hear her commentaries on WLRH Sundial Writer's corner.

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