So far, in my life, I have been through numerous time—time anonymous to me; belligerent time in the mask of friendliness; time which cannot be forgotten and, time which cannot be remembered. It was the year, as far as I can remember and calculate precisely, nineteen hundred and ninety-five. Yes, of course, before that year, too, there were four more years of my life, but I cannot recall them; a faint blur image forms between my eyes and those incognito years, and I feel like I have never existed then.

It was a melancholic day. The pale amber sun, hidden somewhere behind the white misty fumes—which enshrouded the blue ether and many times made us believe that there never prevailed the blue emptiness above us—scattered guileless and impotent rays.  Nature hinted and we predicted—deadly downpour down the dale is waiting for us as much as we were not waiting for it. The serene breeze, with moistness in it, traveling from the west has much-untold news to convey, many griefs to share. I was, with my uncle, going to the temple today, all of sudden. On asking him why were we going to the temple when the sun is right overhead, he said, with a dim smile, God always wants us to meet Him once in a while. There was gravity in his face like nature. He tried to conceal something, unknown to me, but his face revealed it and his eyes could not and would not lie. Sadly, I was unable to interpret anything.

While holding his muscular and bold hand, and walking down the aisle of the trees, I felt I was safe—from the naked vulgar goddess incarcerated within the stone; from the monkeys climbing the trees and inventing the rustling of leaves; from the persons with little or no any clothes on them and surrounded with long hair and beard; and, from the conch shells roaring at a distant and became more distinct when we approached near to that place. Walking with pusillanimous steps, he threw coins to those various positioned nude goddess, sadhus, and beggars lying on the floor to the temple. We reached on the bank of the river after passing through many temples. The bizarre smell, maybe it was from the river, was awful and there was no chance of escaping from it even when my two fingers tightly pressed the nostrils. My uncle pointed with his index finger. In the direction of the tip of my finger, I saw my father. I ran to him like the lovers who were departed from each other for an epoch. While I was running, the ashes on the floor, slowly and swiftly, rose high up in the sky. He hugged me, and, the tears trickle down from his eyes.

“Pappa, what happened?” My powerless whisper disappeared in the midst of the bellows.

There were crowds of people with the same seriousness and tediousness face.There was a well-mannered management of the pile of the woods, and within them was something wrapped yellow clothes in it. A slender man, draped in a yellow lining clothes, was blowing the conch shells, may be to send it to the heaven. The echoes reverberate within the walls of the temple, the logs, the motionless trees, and the translucent water avoiding us and running way. Another man, same as him, was murmuring some vague and incomprehensible language. I was totally unaware of what was going on but they knew it and even nature was aware of it. The place was new to me and so was the situation.

After a while, the same slender man came with a long stick with a vigorous fire glistening at the top and asked me to hold it. I denied. But, carried the heavy stick after my father told me to. After a certain whisper between them, finally, the father said to me—lit the wood. I did. Obediently. The pile of logs was burning now, without a fuel. Similarly, the yellow straight thing was melting hurriedly and was encouraging the fire.

My hands were around father’s broad leg. I asked him:

“Papa, what is that? Why are we burning it?”

“Your mother. She is dead!”

-Rozesh Gautam

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