Gobu would observe them from a distance every day, sometimes taking the courage to inch closer to the boats that carried the passengers across the river to the big temple on the other side.
He would always cover his head with a cloth, lest people saw his long-pointed ears that were so different from human ears. It was unnatural for the nature spirit to wear clothes, but he always saw that human beings hid their own bodies. Why? He could never understand.
But what he could always understand was the look of dislike and suspicion in their eyes, the contempt they showed on their faces as he shuffled towards the boats, trying to help the boatmen pull it ashore so that the passengers could disembark.
“What a weird looking fellow”
“Why does he always turn up every time”
“Such protruding eyes, what strange disease is he suffering from”
“I hope he keeps away”
Yes, he could always hear what they were saying inside their heads. Gobu could also see how they saw him – a shuffling figure in tattered clothes (which he had found discarded on the shore), with a hump on his shoulder. He would have melted into the shadows of his home, the forest that bordered the river Ganga, had it not been for his insatiable curiosity about human beings and their strange ways.
Every day the boatmen would take many trips across the Ganga river, ferrying the passengers who went to meet the big saint.
They called him Ramakrishna, he had heard.
His own name, Gobu, was kept by his mother when he was born, in the depths of the earth below the roots of the trees.
Gobu had never seen a holy man before and was mildly curious about the “big” saint.
Did he look the same like other humans or was he much bigger in size and powerful looking?
Is that why everyone went to pay obeisance? He would often wonder.
Sometimes Gobu could also hear certain things about the saint that they were critical about. A few even thought that Ramakrishna was “a mad man”. He was not surprised though, for by now he had understood that a negative thought always jumped first in the minds of human beings, and went out of control till a bigger distraction lured away their attention.
One afternoon, the boatmen seemed very excited. They said Ramakrishna was going somewhere and would take a boat to cross the river.
Each boatman wished that the saint would sit in his boat. Feeling the excitement of the boatmen, Gobu got all charged up too.
But he was a bit scared, for he did not know how big in size the great saint would be. So, he half hid behind a tree, waiting to have a look at the man, who was the centre of so much attention.
As the boat approached the bank, he stepped out from behind the tree, to have a better look. He could not see any large figure, but his eyes fell on a diminutive looking man. Smiling, so happy and blissful.
And the very moment Gobu set eyes on the saint, the latter also looked at him. Their eyes locked.
Gobu could hear the words, “How beautiful and unique are all your creations Great Mother.”
He could also see what the saint saw – a beautiful shimmering blue light, like a little star.
“That’s me?” Gobu thought.
The saint got down from the boat, but before he stepped into the waiting carriage, his eyes seemed to be searching for someone, till they rested on our half-hidden forest gnome Gobu, again.
There was a half-smile on the saint’s lips, and Gobu could feel what the man felt, a strange stirring he had never felt in his life before, they called it “love”.
It seemed to Gobu a fire was lit inside him, a strange pain, a deep yearning, and an overwhelming feeling of belonging, seared through him.
He felt one with the saint, the waters of the river, the mildly blowing air, the trees.
Another strange thing happened. For the first time in his life, Gobu the gnome could feel tears trickling down his face.
“So, this is what the heart of an enlightened man feels…” the nature spirit thought to himself.
His curiosity about human beings was now satiated.
Gobu the gnome now knew why the Great Maker of the Universe has created a flawed human being in his own image. He realised that he has known what it is to know in the world of humans, so he stepped into the deepest part of the forest, to go back to his home that existed beneath the roots, carrying in his heart the fire lit by a Master that Gobu knew would light up the world one day.
(Excerpt from the book ‘Enchanted Waters: The Magical Flow Of Life’)
(Sudipta is an energy healer, Akashic Records practitioner and mystical storyteller. Her collections of short stories ‘Mystical Tales Of Sacred Earth’, ‘Enchanted Waters: The Magical Flow Of Life’ and ‘The Blue God’s Love’ are available worldwide on Amazon Kindle.)