Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shelter in Heart

- by Ayesha Parveen 06 Dec 2008
Category: Others. This story has been read 150 times.

Sushila was brought up in a conservative atmosphere. Coming from a rural Brahmin family in India, she was taught all the rituals a woman is expected to perform traditionally. Married at an early age, she was unfortunately, widowed soon.

Being childless, her days were occupied with performing ‘pujas’ at home and chanting the Lord’s name. All her sorrows seemed to cease when she worshipped her Balagopal. Now a woman in her late-thirties and not having any earthly desire left in her, she had found contentment within her heart.

Being the eldest in her joint-family of brothers-in-law with their wives and children, she had a revered position in the house; none questioned her decisions or perhaps even when they disliked her views, they did not argue.

One day, a voice was heard outside the main gate and the gatekeeper came running in telling that a boy had come asking for shelter at night. All looked at Sushila who asked the gatekeeper if the boy was from a Brahmin family. The gatekeeper went and asked the boy who said his name was Mukund and when asked about his caste, the boy kept quiet. The gatekeeper, however, said the boy was beautiful with very attractive eyes.

Sushila decided to give shelter to the child but he was not allowed to enter the main building. Mukund had to sleep under the covered portico.

The next day, as usual, Sushila rose from sleep before sunrise, had her bath and started the morning ‘aarti’ for her Balagopal. Then, for the first time in her life, the most inauspicious thing that can take place during ‘puja’, happened: the plate offering ‘aarti’ fell from her hand!

What had gone wrong? Sushila agonized. Why was Balagopal angry with her? Her attending maid entered then and informed her that the boy Mukund was missing. Sushila, forgetting caste-consciousness for once, rushed into the garden and looked for him.

Where, the previous night, Mukund had slept, was a peacock-feather: Sushila’s Balagopal had come; she had not asked him in. As the tears streamed down her face and wet her white ‘saree’, Sushila cried out, “Balagopal, forgive me.”

“As God takes it. Our feet may have reached the holy places, but our hearts may not have done so.” (Quoted from Leo Tolstoy’s short work, “Father Sergius”.)

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