Helllooo! Sorry, I couldn’t update on Saturday. Here’s Chapter 3! I felt really happy as I wrote this chapter and the parts ahead, hope you enjoy reading it just as much. 🙂 Love and comments are always welcome! Happyyyy Reading! 😀
Back in the closed space of her room, Karthika sat down on her bed and took a deep breath and grinned widely.
“Ayyappa what is happening? I can’t stop smiling! Okay seeing Shabareesh after a long time and spending a day with him is one of my truest wishes come true. But this is something more than that. What I feel right now, the bliss and joy it’s..okay forget it! Like stop it Karthika. Don’t overthink. Just go with the flow.”
“Okay, what’s your plan, where do we go?” she asked him while adjusting her neckpiece.
“You tell me. Today is going to be completely your call!” He replied making her look up with a jerk.
“Are you serious?” she questioned unsurely.
“You’ll do whatever I want us to?”
He simply nodded.
“What if I ask you to do sit-ups and run around this building?” it was her turn to smirk.
“Karthika!” He huffed cutely. “I can do the sit-ups, not sure about the running.” He added making her laugh.
“Chill chill. I’ll be back.”
She ran to get some Vibhuti and applied to Lord Ayyappa’s idol, closed her eyes and prayed, unaware that she was being observed by someone with the same amount of love she had for Him.
Opening her eyes she looked back at Shabareesh and saw a Vibhuti mark on his forehead. “You didn’t have that when you came in?” she stated confused.
He simply shook his head and smiled, “Figure that out later. Shall we leave?”
“Yessss! But where to?” she placed a finger on her chin, as if thinking hard making him smack his forehead.
She ignored him, looked at the idol and back at him.
Something about the glint of timeless wisdom in his eyes and the kindness in
his smile touched her soul like never before. Knowing not why, she decided to
do all that with him, what she had imagined she would with the Lord.
“Cool. Let’s go.” she held his hand and they left for their first destination of the day.
As soon as they stepped out of her home, the birds started
chirping while the leaves of the trees danced to a gush of wind, while
Shabareesh cuddled a small puppy. Karthika looked on, it felt like her
surroundings were surcharged with a divine presence.
“Bye puppy, else you see that girl there? She’ll burn me down with her glares!” he chuckled earning a whack on his arm from Karthika. He went on to gently touch the trees and their leaves while two birds perched themselves on his shoulders.
Truth be told she was in awe, her heart seemed to want to burst with joy and reverence at his presence. And this was only the start of the day. She sensed he wasn’t the Shabareesh she had known for 10 years of her life, there was something else. She didn’t hurry, she wanted to live each moment with him.
As they left, the energy of these creatures seemed to droop when Shabareesh turned back with his smile, as if assuring them that He will always be there.
Their first stop was one of the most popular chaat stalls in the sprawling city of Mumbai. Karthika knew how much her friend loved chaat.
“Chaatttt!” Shabareesh exclaimed excitedly.
“Bhaiya inn ke liye ekdum tikha Pani Puri banana!” she giggled as told the stall-owner, knowing what was coming next.
“Nooo! Are you crazy? Bhaiya, medium Haan. Thiki waali isko Dena.” He glared at Karthika who burst into laughter seeing how much he hated spicy food.
As he gorged on the Pani Puri and a plate of Ragda Pattice
after that, Karthika couldn’t help but keep looking at him. She felt she could
do that the entire day, like these moments wouldn’t ever return and she wanted
to capture them forever in the treasure chest of her memories.
Yes, he meant the world to her but..why did everything feel so divine today, almost as if the Lord Himself was standing beside her? Or was it because she saw glimpses of the Lord in him?
“Yummmm! Why aren’t you eating? This is so good!”
Shabareesh spoke with his mouth full, distracting Karthika.
She chuckled and didn’t reply. When she looked at the old Pani Puri vendor, she was surprised to see his hands trembling and tears escaping his eyes as he finished serving Shabareesh. Suddenly she had lost all her appetite.
Shabareesh held the old man’s frail hands in his own strong yet gentle hold, looked at him, smiled and spoke with firm compassion, ” Bhaiya, Maine kabhi itni achi aur itni saari chaat nahi khaayi. Aapka bohot bohot dhanyawaad.” But there was more to these words, as if they meant to soothe deeper wounds hidden in the man’s soul, rewarding him for his hard-work.
The man had no words to say. He didn’t even try. Folding his palms together, he wept as Shabareesh held him.
After bidding goodbye to him, the duo walked along silently. She didn’t ask for any explanation, he didn’t offer any. Her heart felt full with the overwhelming sight she had witnessed. Yes, Shabareesh was an extremely kind person who could offer a shoulder to anyone in need. But what she had seen was other worldly, almost as if the Lord had conversed and offered solace to his broken devotee!