Back from the Brink

Rasbihari waited in a dark area by the riverside. It was Diwali festival night, and like the rest of city, the flight of steps leading down to Ganga river were lit up by thousands of lamps, making the atmosphere surreal and magical. One of the oldest inhabited heritage cities in the world, Varanasi has always been mesmerising at night. The steps where he was sitting was however away from the celebrations, it was silent and nobody was around.

He had made up his mind, he had to end his life tonight. The situation at work and home had turned into a veritable battlefield – the eldest son, Rasbihari had become a pariah in his large extended family because his wrong decisions had led the family business to the brink of bankruptcy. His wife had also left his home a few hours ago, with their children, swearing never to return. With no one to turn to, he thought that the waters of river Ganga were his only refuge.

While Rasbihari was thinking of how to die, he heard the faint sound of anklets. Startled, he turned around to see who the woman was. He saw no one. It was all dark, other than the faint glow coming from a nearby small temple of Goddess Kali, which lit up a part of the water.

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Sure that he had imagined the sound, Rasbihari started brooding again. A few minutes later, he again heard the anklets. This time the sound was more distinctive and he could hear it clearly. It seemed that she was deliberately making the sound to get his attention. Rasbihari was a worshipper of Goddess Kali, and knew that no negative energies could harm him.

Then, he saw her. He could feel his heart thumping, as he made out the many armed silhouette, which in a flash merged into the darkness. He could again hear the anklets going fast towards the temple.

Rasbihari gathered all his courage to follow the sound. As he approached the little temple, the sound stopped. When he stepped inside the temple, tears welled up in his eyes. He could feel a great wave of love wash over him, as he stood before the idol of the goddess. Rasbihari could not stop crying. He knew who had brought him here, and he also understood why. She did not want him to die and had drawn him away to a place where he would feel secure in her presence. Just like a mother’s love gives strength to her child, he could feel the strength of the Dark Goddess. Full of remorse, he sat down on the floor of the temple and did not realise when he fell asleep crying.

The next dawn, the priest was startled to see him lying at the foot of the idol. Woken up by the priest, Rasbihari walked home a different man. He was aware now that he had to face life and its challenges. There was a reason for him to be alive, and he had to fulfill his life purpose.

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