On the serene hills of the Kumaons, he was walking. His tired feet dragging him towards the old Kasar Devi temple. He remembered himself running uphill with a bunch of white flowers in his hands as a boy. He would go with his father to make offerings to the goddess on early mornings. There wasn’t really any difference between that day and the present day, everything was the same. The quiet hills, the clear winds, steep slopes, those tiny white flowers, the pasty clouds and that 2nd century temple. What is changed was him!
Cool breeze was blowing through his grey hair; his old tired eyes were seeking something. He remembered himself young and strong. How he hated these hills and wanted to go to the town. Young and cheerful; he wanted to experience everything that is in the world. The wide roads, fancy restaurants, cars, and charming ladies. They said army men get to live the fancy lives. Big medals, parties, cars, women and tales of bravery! All the boys from the village had decided to go to the war. He was leaving the Kumaons, youthful and full of life. He felt happy he is serving the country. His mother howling and father encouraging. He won ample medals and was known for his courage all around. He was on the pinnacle of his dream. He had travelled around and met a lot of woman. Danced with few and made love to the others. Life was just as he wanted.
One evening he came home, home to the Kumaons on one leg. Life was slow and steady again. People came, met, felt sympathy and some felt extreme pride. Days went by and his youth had already faded away. Graying and accepting solace in silence, he lived. Lost in thoughts he did not realize he had reached the top of the hill. Standing outside the temple, he saw the valley. Clouds below him and a rainbow above. He was at peace with himself and life. He took a deep breath and sat outside the 2nd century temple. A little boy came to him and offered him prashad from his tiny fist. Accepting it, he tried to make a conversation with the boy which was lucratively ended by a distant voice. The boy was rushing back to the man standing at a distance. When asked when he will get to meet the little boy next, he shyly said, “Not very soon, I have to go to the town to see the lights and the people.” He rushed back to the man and they started walking downhill holding hands. He kept staring into eternity watching the two disappear into the fog at a distance.
Kasar Devi temple, Almora, Uttarakhand
Photograph courtesy: Ajay Paul Mathew
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– My October 2013 trip to Hippie hill, Binsar and Kasar Devi in Almora, Uttarakhand