Incredible India

“What took you so long?” Rita asked.
“Oh, I was just checking our passports and everything,” Dave said pointing to the small pouch he was carrying, “Can’t leave anything around.”

The ghat was nearby; they decided to walk. It was nearly seven and the aarti was about to start. It’s the most beautiful thing you will ever see, the manager had told them.

Varanasi, the city of ghats, on the banks of the holy Ganges, was as crowded as any other pilgrimage. The crowd moved slowly, but in a definitive direction of the ghats. They reached in time, just in time as the aarti started; and for several moments stood rooted to the ground, taking in the breathtaking view that welcomed them.

Darkness had already covered the skies, and the silhouette of the flowing holiness reflected the lighted flames of the golden lamps. Seven men clad in orange and white stood at regular intervals facing the river, singing hymns and ringing the bells. A pious feeling filled their hearts. The holidays were never this good.

It had taken them a week to decide where to go. Rita wanted to go to the Alps, while Dave was inclined towards the Maldives. It was Mike, Dave’s younger brother who suggested them of India. It’s a beautiful country, rich in culture and has a brilliant history. And India it was.

With a carefully planned trip, they started off in Jaipur. And though the palaces were rich and amazing, the heat of the city caught them off-guard. They would sweat all day, clothes sticking to their bodies and come back to the fat-rich food of Rajasthan. After Jaipur, it was Agra, the famous Taj Mahal. They saw the Qutub Minar, the Red Fort, the India Gate and the Buland Darwaza. Then they moved to Varanasi, the pilgrimage capital of India, the seat of Lord Shiva. They visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the most famous temples of India; its dome made entirely of pure gold. After a three day stay, they were to move to Sarnath and then Gaya, the seats of Gautam Buddha. It was their last day in Varanasi.

Rita touched the cool water with her finger, creating ripples on the surface. The boat cruised slowly through the silent river. The fresh air hit their faces and they relaxed. Suddenly Dave asked the boatman, do you sing?

The boatman often had these requests from his passengers. He began,

Jab din lage dhalne,
Ek thandi bayar chale re,
Dilwa se hook uthe,
Ab aa ke mil le sajanwa re.

He sang as they moved through the night. The boatman’s voice was husky, piercing through the silent air, but it was beautiful. Perhaps, it was the atmosphere that made it beautiful. What does it mean? Rita asked.

The boatman replied, “When night falls and the air becomes cool, my heart laments for you. Oh darling come to me.”

Rita gave herself in Dave’s arms as the boatman continued to sing. When half an hour later they were back on the bank, she gave ten dollars to the boatman as a tip.

“What was that for?” Dave asked her.
“Just a small thank you, for the reason that my darling is with me,” Rita said and kissed him. “Let’s sit here for some time.”

They sat on the stairs. No one said anything; they let the silence take over. Dave put his arms around her and she put her head on his shoulders. She was never happier.

“Will you marry me,” Dave said.
Rita didn’t even look up, “Yes.”
The holidays were certainly getting better.

It was eleven by the time they decided to go back. There were few people around. Rita saw the same boatman taking another couple into the river. She waved to him. He waved back happily. Dave smiled.

Suddenly a hand grabbed Dave’s shoulders. He turned around to find a young boy with a handkerchief on his face, brandishing a knife. “Give me your purse.”

Dave hesitated. The boy stabbed him. Rita shouted. The boy ran. People gathered. Few people ran after the boy. Rita wailed. Dave closed his eyes, Rita cried harder. She was a doctor, she knew. A voice pierced the air,

Dilwa se hook uthe,
Ab aa ke mil le sajanwa re.

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5 responses to “Incredible India

  1. Wow..that ending was least expected..I thought the story was going towards a normal ending, unitl ofcourse the last part…The ending even though kind of puts a bad name to “incredible india”..still gud

  2. Factual Error: clothes never get stuck to the bodies because of excessive sweating in Jaipur because it has a dry climate. This fucking thing happens in a place like a shit hole which we better know as ‘Varanasi’.

    Moreover, hope you enjoy the holy serene Ghats of Varanasi, throughout your life. Amen.

    • sorry dishank…for pissing u off… i know its hard to listen to something, of the slightest adversity, about your own city. 🙂 anyways…even u have another year in VARANASI.. njoy..

  3. I agree with dishank, it has certain factual errors and a tad disordered (though I love varanasi and will choose it any day over jaipur). But then only you know how to bring the romantic angle so suddenly(with a song) and then kill it (literally in this case). Some of the sentences and descriptions are fantabulous….silhouette of holiness(really!!), I would have loved it there was some more background to their love story…. One of the most sudden endings i have ever read….ala Night shyamalan

  4. lovely story………………m getting emotional…………… 😦 keep it up………..:)

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