A short-story on faith for World Story-telling Day

Returning to Krishna

Usha looked at the clock. It was not yet 5. Sliding off the bed, careful not to wake up Ravi, she walked to the bathroom. The door creaked a bit as she opened it, but Ravi slept on, blissfully unaware of anything. She wondered how he could be so peaceful all the time.

As she brushed, she looked at herself in the mirror. The lines besides her eyes had deepened. The few strands of white hair glowed bright under the bathroom light. They were signs of her age. What was supposed to display the wisdom? Was she really any wiser now as an adult than as a teenager? Her fears still seemed to overcome her. Here she was helpless, trembling as she watched her fearful thoughts running in a loop. Playing the same movie of terror over and over in her head.

The cold water she splashed on her face seemed to knock a few thoughts away. What was the purpose of thinking about something she had no control over? What was the point in going over scene by scene of frightful possibilities in her head? What was the point of trying to know more, understand more about what was happening? She heard Ravi say she was causing herself immense suffering with her overthinking. And yet she couldn’t stop. She had been trying.

She rubbed her face vigorously with a towel. She rubbed the tears away with even more vigour. It wouldn’t and couldn’t move beyond the towel. She was tired of crying. She took a breath and felt the fear pressing down on her lungs. Heavy and immobile, sitting on her chest, refusing to budge, refusing to let her breathe deeply.

Walking to the kitchen, her gaze fell on the darkened prayer altar tucked away in a corner. When was the last time she lit the lamp? Just as she was about to walk away, she froze. Buried under a layer of dust, the idol of Krishna was smiling at her. She had meant to clean it last week and had forgotten. She walked to the bottle of water on the kitchen platform and poured herself a glass. She spilled some on and watched the water run towards the sink. And just like she heard Grandma’s voice rise from the folds of her memory. “Nothing in the world is permanent. The only constant is your connection to God. When life is lived with this awareness, everything is simple. Just take it one moment at a time. You and God. One moment as a time.”

The glass trembled in her hand as she sipped the water. Suddenly, she was overcome with a restlessness to clean the altar. Picking up the dusting cloth, she walked to the altar. A prayer, she said as a child, found its way to her lips. Grandma had taught her that when she was little. She picked up the idol of Krishna and carried him to the kitchen sink. She watched as the water flowed over him, carrying away the dust, bringing back a lustre to the idol.

Usha used to love Krishna. As a child, she would lovingly bathe her grandma’s idols and dress them in tiny colourful bits of cloth. But Krishna was her favourite one. She would hug his idol and dance with him. She remembered how she would talk to Krishna whenever she was scared or sad. She remembered praying to him, crying with him, and even getting angry with him when she couldn’t have her way. Once when her parents were out at night, she had been so afraid. Grandma was sleeping in her room and so Usha had rushed to Krishna and held him close to her heart. As she spoke to him, she had felt comforted, safe.

Now, she instinctively hugged the wet, soggy Krishna idol. Soon, she didn’t know if it was her tears that were bathing him or if he was still wet from his splash under the tap. Usha stood still, leaning against the kitchen platform just holding the idol. She looked at him with questions in her eyes. She looked at him with yearning in her heart. She looked at him and felt the familiar warm of the love she once felt for him burn in her heart. Why had she had forgotten him?

Reaching for the end of her sari, she wiped the idol dry and placed him in the altar. The prayer found its way back to her lips, as she reached for the wick of the lamp. As she chanted the prayer, Usha found the heaviness in her chest loosening itself. “Me and you. One moment at a time,” she told Krishna. Lighting up the lamp, she looked around the kitchen at the golden shadows dancing around her. She was with her Krishna. Krishna smiled at her. Usha found herself smiling back at him, as she closed her eyes and sat down to pray. 

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