We start our mornings in a rush, often thinking about the little worries sitting on our shoulders, which is the very core of our existence. We cease to acknowledge the transient nature of life itself.
As we start our day we must try to take a conscious decision to reflect yesterday, to be grateful for every throbbing nerve and cell in our body. I try to recognise the metamorphosis of me from my adolescence to the matured woman of today. And in this journey of self-realisation and discovery through heartbreaks, finding love in the small and big things of life, Benares plays hide and seek in this journey of the I, just juxtaposed against the older materialistic world I inhabit and the innocence of my past. As a child, I travelled to Benares with my parents and barely could afford the most expensive Benarasi. But I yearned for one.
And now Benares is a view through the lens of my soul. This trip called Benares, isn’t surely for the faint-hearted. The chaos and the calm always fighting to find space next to each other is a daunting experience for most.
The Kashi Vishwanath temple is crowded with devout Bhakts who wait in an endless line to reach the Shiva lingam and pray for the marvel of procreation and the very intrinsic energy called the man-woman communion. I quietly watch the devout praying for their long life and on the other side lies the comatose dead body burning on the pyres. Isn’t this life?
As I navigated my way one afternoon into the snaky lanes of Benares, saving myself from brushing against the line of people holding the four-poster bamboo handles of a dead body covered in a white shroud, I realise the futility of the very existence that we take so seriously. It’s funny how we don’t search for the quiet of our mind to realise the silence that eventually floats on water as ashes.
I reminded myself that I came looking for a celebration of life and walked into a Benarasi seller home, he sells his saris from his living room. I was lost in the swathes of fabric and colour. But I just couldn’t find what I was looking for.
I returned back to Bangalore. Life started and I had forgotten that fading sunlight into the mighty Ganges as the lights went out till the last burning lamp danced in reflection of the ripples of the holy river that carried all the debris of dead ashes, hope for new birth and prayers for the couples who wanted more from life.
I called my friend Arundhati, another Bengali who has the same sensibilities like me. I mentioned that I couldn’t find the sari I was looking for. We chatted about this, that and the other.
Next morning on my doorstep was a packet that I received. I collected it and opened to find the most exquisite creation from Benares. A purple Benarasi weave with intricate gold and silver design. As I opened the sari, I found a note saying “For you, with all my love, may Benares never disappoint you”
I sat with tears in my eyes and called her to say thank you and told her the magic of the universe conspiring to make our dreams come true is astounding. You don’t know when is that magical hour when someone is listening to you and getting all the forces to make that wish come true.
Thankyou Arundhati Rao for adding this in my collection. Even when my body leaves this earth this heirloom piece will be passed on with the words “Benares never disappoints you”.