Spirituality touched me quite early, I would say. But amid a breezy childhood, it did not count much until, unless it was in my early twenties when something happened that turned me to thinking, if everything, I had heard about the spirit was true.
It was early evening, and the year was 2004. My train finally reached the station and I got down somehow struggling through the crowd, which builds up mostly at the gates in trains.
Winters are very beautiful in my place- foggy, misty and calmer than usual.
It was my first vacation in two years, as during my previous vacations, I was working all day in my lab, feeding rats, rabbits and preparing antibodies for most of my days. All this while, I had waited to rush back home and that evening all I wanted was a warm home, a warm meal and a soft bed by the hills. The light was already fading as I came out of the station. Not a single rickshaw puller was in sight and even though walking back home was not a bad idea at all, but I was worried more about the luggage I carried on my back. Even though it was just 15 kilos but in an empty stomach, it weighed me down. Suddenly a familiar figure caught my eye.
Uncle Sangli stood leaning on the light post in his usual long black hoodie, which covered almost the whole of his lean, emaciated body. His shoes were also the same pair I had seen him in, the day I left home two years back.
I could give him some money, and he could help me with my luggage as he had done on many previous occasions, I thought to myself. So, I moved ahead to meet him and when I tapped him on his shoulder, he turned towards me with a smile, saying, “Finally you came home, I was waiting only for you, all this while.”
I quite did not get what he said, and just smiled and nodded at him.
The street lights were coming up one by one, and I could not even see his face clearly in the foggy dimness.
I did not need to tell him as he quietly took the baggage from me, but then his words, kind of caught my attention and I went on to ask him how he knew I would be coming down.
He replied simply by saying, “I knew you would, or else how could I bid you, my final farewell, my child?”
“What do you mean by final farewell?” I was not able to keep pace with his words right then.
“It means nothing, come now or else you will miss the last auto from here.”
We quickly hurried down and when finally on the main road, I could see his face. Dull, tired, dusty, it was nothing remarkable but there in his eyes, I could see tears welling up.
Mine is a small town and, in those years, almost everybody knew everyone in the neighbourhood. I was not sure if they were tears or the cold wind filling up tears in his eyes.
I passed some cash money towards him but then he declined, asking me to pay my auto fare with it.
I was totally out of my wits, but he did not wait for my auto and vanished in the thick fog almost in no time.
Finally, the auto came down and I took it to reach home.
My mum could not believe her eyes when she saw me and was more surprised by my luggage size, precisely since she did not know how I carried it from the station to the main road.
“I brought it mom, chill, I can find help.” I boasted.
“Huh, you did, in this icy-cold winter evening? Don’t boast so much that it seems like boasting.” She pinched me for she knows me too well.
“Okay, yeah, I can lift this and bring it with me, I could have dragged it down also, why do you doubt my muscles?” I pulled up my sleeve and showed her my growing biceps.
“Pull that down now or else you will catch a cold.” She suppressed her smile and went back to the kitchen.
But then I followed her into the kitchen and she started talking to me about the neighbours and all. Then in between, she said something I could not quite grasp.
“You know Uncle Sangli died two days back, his sons burnt him down, so says his neighbours. Poor old man, he did so much for his sons, pulled rickshaws, did odd jobs just to support those thankless creatures. They are though, denying it.”
I could not believe my ears.
I had never experienced something so mystic ever in my life. At that point and even to date I have not shared my story with my mother or anyone.
But then it took me three months to come to terms with the fact. I went down to his house two days later to pay my last regards and then met an Aghori baba (ascetics who feed on dead flesh and stay on cremation grounds). His body was burnt in that ghat (place of cremation) near the river where this Aghori baba stayed.
“Did you see him?” He asked me while cooking rice and pulses. I had never seen them feeding on human flesh though.
“Yes, I did. I did see him right in front of my eyes and even handed over my luggage to him.”
“Hmm, he must have been attached to you. As far as I know, he was not attached to anyone in his home, except his daughter who too seemed to have dreamt him on the night of his departure.”
“Can physical bodies appear that way after death?” I was deeply curious.
“Yes, they can but it is the soul conjuring the body for you. This whole world is nothing but many souls together. Our bodies are not true, they are mere projections of the soul. If your soul wants, it can give you the same body after death for some time. It is why your soul is so powerful.”
“Is it a science then and can I learn it from you? Even I believe in your God.” I wanted to learn everything in those times.
“It’s not a science, neither an art. You cannot learn it from me. But I can give you some scriptures only if you promise to return them after reading.”
I read the scriptures but I am still learning about the spirit and each day, a new person, a new season has revealed something new to me, something unique, something I read in that tattered book many years back.
I am still not sure, how to define what happened that fateful night but then it is one incident that drove me to learn more about this soul and it was all these years that I am striving to understand it more than anything else.
I was specially amazed by the fact that I had applied for my vacations to my superintendent almost ten days back and even if his sons burnt him down, they might have planned it before I submitted my application (his death file was closed in absence of firm evidence). He waited 48 hours or a little less than that to meet me, and me who never knew how I influenced his living in any way.
It’s true he used to buy me chocolates, when I was a toddler, it is also true my father helped him occasionally and it is also true, he helped me whenever I was at the station. Everytime, I wrote some story I would tell him but then he was a friendly, harmless person and he was friends to many and not me alone.
So why me? I had no idea. I still feel odd about the whole thing and still it drives me to learn more about my soul and my spiritual duties everyday.
Perhaps it taught me how well connected we all are with each other and our power lies in our connections. Burning down trees, animals and humans is weakening this human tribe more and more, I learnt perhaps that day. I also learnt more about establishing connections through the language of love and compassion. This is how I choose to conclude it for the readers.
Snehashree is a content writer by profession, and she writes on almost all the niches. She writes poetry, a book is also available on Amazon, called “A Hiatus from the Loaded Past”. She also regularly writes on her blog: https://www.rollercoasterrideonlife.blog/ and on her website, https://www.writersnehashree.com/. She is a part of IndieITPress and Talking Zebras Group.