It was a sweltering summer afternoon. Ahana had come with her group of college friends to visit the old fortress that was in the outskirts of the desert township where they had come for a holiday. As the five girls walked around the popular tourist destination, following their guide, Ahana sauntered off alone. She wanted to soak in the atmosphere of the beautiful architecture with its intricate sculptures and engravings on the walls and pillars.
She walked ahead to check the ancient stepwell which was one of the highlights of the fortress. At the north end of the stepwell was a gigantic statue of an unusual looking bull, which looked almost like a man. It was different from the statues of Nandi, the divine bull that guarded every Shiva temple. In fact, there was a small Shiva temple a short distance away with the familiar marble Nandi. She also noticed flowers and burnt incense sticks and understood that people had been worshipping the unusual statue of the man-bull.
Ahana was all alone as she climbed down the ancient steps. As she reached the edge of the water she saw something move inside it. There were sparkles of light inside the water, and she suddenly found herself looking at a luminescent anthromorphic figure. It was as if the statue of the man-bull had come alive. Without speaking, the strange being communicated his story.
No words were needed, she understood that almost 600 years ago when the fortress was being built there was a severe famine in the area. The king was told by the royal priest to build a stepwell and meditate for 101 days, which he did. After emerging from his meditation, the king said that he saw the vision of a half-man, half-bull who would save the people of his kingdom. A statue was built as per the king’s instructions and the stepwell became a scared place. The region never saw a famine again.
The being had made the waters of the stepwell his home to help the kingdom, but as people continued to worship him through the centuries, he was unable to return to his realm. He wanted to be free. Ahana did not know why she was chosen to be told the story. The answer came quick, “For many hundred years I have tried to communicate with everyone who walks down the steps, but very few possess the sensitivity to pick up my energy and understand me.” He wanted her to break a part of his statue, following which people would stop worshipping it (as a broken statue is never worshipped), and he would be free to return where he came from. Ahana was aghast, she knew she could not destroy a piece of history. Then she saw the guide and her friends walking down the steps, and the communication stopped.
Ahana returned home and never got an opportunity to visit the fortress again. She would often think about the creature in the stepwell calling out to everyone to set him free. With time she started believing that what she thought was a magical encounter was actually a figment of her imagination – the statue at the top of the steps must have somehow got reflected in the water, and the sunlight may have played a trick to make her see what she did. Regarding the story, she had no explanation.
Then exactly three years, two months and 23 days later, she saw a small snippet of news in the daily newspaper. It mentioned that two nights ago, somebody had reportedly broken a part of the ancient statue of a bull near the stepwell. The police was searching for the miscreants. Ahana then knew that her strange encounter was no imagination and that someone had the courage to do what she dared not. While she felt bad that a valuable sculpture was descecrated, she was happy that after centuries of endless wait, a being that had come from another realm to help man, had finally found freedom to return home again.