It seemed like an endless walk to her through the grey landscape. She was carrying a heavy burden, and not just the large rucksack she was dragging through the snow, too tired to carry on her back. But the load that weighed down her heart was much heavier.
She was on her way to Itama – the temple of the all powerful tribal Ice Goddess. It was a stark frozen sheet that jutted out from an ice shelf. In the barren cold desert of perpetual snow, the structure of the Ice Temple regenerated itself constantly. The temple had no entrance or exit, and according to legends, only the one chosen by the goddess could enter Itama – in mind and spirit.
They also believed that circumambulating the abode of the sacred goddess 33 times, absolved a person of all heinous sins. So Hena set about on this tough journey. She hoped that the physical pain and stress on her endurance level might well reduce the pain of her guilt. This was her penance for almost breaking the home of her own sister.
In her tribe, she was considered a Halion – the word describing an adulteress who preyed on other women’s husbands, but no one did that to their own sister, like her. Hena was not sure whether the goddess would forgive her or not, but she knew she would probably never be able to forgive herself.
It was a moonless night, yet somehow the spire of the Ice Temple seemed to shimmer in blue. It was so cold that the tears from her eyes were freezing on her cheeks. She could not even cry.
Hena had just about gone around the temple three times, when she started feeling that she could not breathe. Before she passed out, it seemed to her that flickering silvery lights were shining above her.
A few hours later when they found Hena, they saw a white bear hovering around her. They knew that it was something very unusual because it seemed it was guarding the woman. The white bear was a carrier of the goddess. They believed that the goddess came out of the Ice Temple astride on her ferocious white bear and flitted across her domain, giving justice to men and animals.
It was almost three days before Hena gained consciousness at the hospital. And when she did, she kept talking about the silvery lights and the Ice Temple. When her family came to meet her, they were shocked. Her jet black hair had turned white at places and it seemed that in just a few days she had aged by almost 15 years.
She said that she was led by the dots of silvery lights into a blue tunnel, which was lit by white light streaming from the other end. Was it a Near Death Experience?
The elders in her tribe were astounded, as they started believing that she had been led inside the Ice Temple by the goddess herself. In five generations this had never happened. It defied all their belief in the right and the wrong. In the eyes of the supreme Ice Goddess, it seemed the saint and the sinner, were the same.
Hena the cursed adulteress, was The Chosen One.