karma, kali, kaal


It was an almost dark morning but not raining. I, along with my parents and siblings, were going to a distant temple. We had always wanted to go there but as luck would have it, that day was today. We were climbing an array of stairs and there were so many. Dilapidated and crumbling down. The never-ending steps kept on spiraling towards the heaven. There was a huge water body beyond, whose end we couldn’t see. Outside of these two, there was absolutely nothing we could see. We were a bit petrified but kept climbing. At one time, the stairs had almost chipped off and only the edges were holding together. It was precarious and looked difficult but we had to cross and climb over. Holding the railing, we tip-toed on the boundary and carefully made our way through them. What a relief that was. The level of the water body kept rising and we had to hurry. We soon finished all the stairs and came to an open field inundated with waist-deep water.

The kali temple was located right at the other end of the field. We could see the sikhara of the temple. We got down into the pool of water. Hardly did we wade through a few yards when we saw a few men carrying a headless buffalo away from us. It was a horrifying sight. It wasn’t long before we crossed through and reached the entrance of the temple. It was an old one carved out of huge blocks of black stone. My parents went inside but I preferred to enter moments later. I saw those men yet again and this time forcing a huge buffalo towards the altar. I followed them. I knew they would sacrifice the animal and I had to see it. One of the men, with a gentle blow of a scimitar, cut off the animal’s head. The beast fell down and after a few minutes of struggle lay lifeless. Some kids, whose parents couldn’t hush them away from the spectacle, vomited. I was indifferent to the sight. I turned my back and rushed towards the temple. Going a little towards the garbhagriha, I bowed down and paid my obeisance. I asked for the divine’s blessings.

The temple was almost dark except for a small diya whose light kept on flickering. We had to hurry back. The water level kept on rising. Crossing the pool of water we came to a small market place with a jumbling number of alleys. We had to buy some sweets. Suddenly, the rising water entered the place and before we could react or run, engulfed us all in a sea of darkness.

At the hindsight, thankfully, we didn’t have to climb down that array of stairs all over again.

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