Everything about the temple was in a state of decay- had Vaibhavi slipped on the corroded stairs leading to the lake she would have certainly broken her jaw. The cement floors had sharp cracks that could easily cut someone’s heel, ugly creepers protruded through the gaps between the black stone walls, even the divine idols were covered in torn rags and dry flowers. Strangely, Vaibhavi had hoped this would be a welcome break from her family but this location had only reminded her of her disintegrating marriage.

The priest deliberately made a guttural sound to bring Vaibhavi back to her senses. She blinked her eyes twice and heard him recite his shlokas without any change in her expression. Then she recited the same, pouring milk on the miniature idol of Lord Shiva. After about an hour the puja was completed and Vaibhavi threw all the milk and the flowers into the lake (this time climbing the stairs more cautiously). The priest got up, sorted his white dhoti and walked towards the temple.

“This will cure my son?”, Vaibhavi asked with a hint of suspicion.

The priest turned around, put some ash in her wet palm and smiled.

“Whatever is best for him, will happen”, he said. He seemed to be half Vaibhavi’s age but he had a deep and soothing voice, courtesy of reciting the vedas every morning at the crack of dawn.

“You know”, she said rubbing her fingers in the ash of her palm, “We have taken him to the best doctors in the world, we spent a lot of money on his treatment”.

The priest looked into the cooper plate in his hand, nodding at her words. Vaibhavi looked at him in ridicule, this was a young man with a bald head, did she expect him to have all the answers?

“Did it work?”, he asked looking at her mocking face.

Vaibhavi shook her head slightly and salty tears flug down from her eyes. She wipped them immediately, she wasn’t one to show vulnerability.

“I have tried everything- science, medicine, ayurveda”, she whispered, “I also took him to a witch”.

“What is written”, he said, his words barely audible over the loud bells, “will happen”.

“I want him to be free”, she said.

“No”, the priest’s voice said echoing around the halls of the temple, “You want to be free. Of him”.

My first attempt at a short story, feedback is much appreciated. Thanks!


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