When he was very young little did he know that he was going to leave what others around called his homeland. That's what childhood does, everything is so golden and eternal, nice and warm, all you can think of is mangoes, playing in the dust and coming home in the evening just when the birds are flying back to their nests. Wash your feet and briefly pray to the guardian gods before you retire to the light of that oil-lamp burning bravely to keep Lakshmi in the house.
He was all of 14 when he left home and came to videsh, away from home and family, mother, father, dada and didi. All he remembers is the copious tears his folks shed as his rick disappears into the curve of the road. A frail little boy leaving home and life to a rebirth.He does not remember his name that his parents lovingly call him or the affectionate names his didi calls him when he is sad and sulky and throwing tantrums.
Death of an innocent romantic.
What the teenage years can do to you!! You know your constitution is changing, revolting at times and you get repulsive with the tempest in your mind and heart. At an age when most teenagers sail through an enviable golden maze, my little friend was ordained to be a priest. The elders blessed him in his new birth, he had to shed all the trappings of his past life-paap, punya, maya, karma, etc. Shaved his head and shed his clothes for the divine robes, the sacred thread and praying beads thrust in his hand, tremendous peace and calm in his visage,
a monk was born, Sadananda was born.
The child died a valiant death, crying helplessly, stoned to eternal silence by the worldly intervention by the learned divine.Poverty of the human soul and also, our welfare economics could not save him. His father was going to marry his sister to some old widower, dada works as a day wage-labourer and ma and baba will go to Brindaban to beg and wait for moksh and serve Radhe. What will you do? I will go away to God, He brought me here, to Him I return.He does not know if it is a brave decision.
I met him in one of my visits to a monastery.He sits at the main prayer hall, at the book corner.
He loves to read, not particular about choice, just about reads everything. Says a namaskar/hello to visitors, takes the subscription and gives directions to visitors from meditation room to washroom. Smiles at bratty kids which parents forgot to discipline somewhere in their immersing love and affection. Elders throw a volley of questions and the frail soul has learnt to handle them with ease and panache, benign smile intact.
I take 2 books and ask him, " Please prepare the bill, "
He replied, " Whatever you wish to donate..."
"What do you do?"
"I study and work..."
The air reverberated with two tiny voices chattering away in this big hall of prayer and mediation.He thought I was a Buddhist.
Incense filled the air, the smell of ghee lamps in the air and in the process, the monk took my phone number on the visitor's subscription book promising to call me for any event they have in the future.Like a diligent enthusiastic visitor, I took all the pamphlets for my knowledge bank and read all that was available in the gallery.
I was out in the open, saw a glorious view of the city, beautiful because it was lit. Took a picture for keepsake with Sadananda. He was very thrilled. In his excitement, he asked me my age, aha!
"How old are you, boy?"
"I am 18...left home when I was 14."
"Ah!I am not 18,"
He called me the next day.Small talk, I don't know what to speak to him besides asking how he has been, what he did and if he had dinner.
"We do not have dinner,"
"Oh,actually...I am having dinner with a friend,"
"How are you?"
"I am fine, thank you."
"Ok, I will call you up sometimes.Thanks for calling."
So the phone calls came and went, some attended and some not, deliberately! He asked me,"Didi, were you busy?I was not well, fever and cough."
"Oh, I am sorry, how are you now,eat well, take more warm clothes, your two-piece yard is not enough, please take a shawl."
"Yeah, I was out of station...I left my cell at home...umm, I was in a meeting, I was busy..."
The little man assured me, he will call when I am not busy.He also told me how he missed his sister, she used to take care of him when he was not well.
I said, "I will call you,na.."
"No, didi, I will call you."
"No problems, take care and feel good, you will feel better."
I have to go visit my monk friend who is in search of his didi.