It was the normal morning, as I awoke to yet another day of heavy rainfall. Down pour was a usual feature in the small town of Katni where I Nandini lived with my family. My family consisted of my Father who was posted as a teacher in Government school, mother a homemaker, one brother and four sisters including me. I was a little girl of 8 years with dark complexion and long hairs loosely tied into a pony tail stretching down up to my knees. I had a thick growth of hairs and loved playing and fidgeting with them when I was doing nothing.
Rest of my time was spent in helping water the plants roam around with my friends and studying which I am afraid was not my cup of tea. My father had been transferred to Katni just nine months before. I loved the place for its natural beauty. We did not have many luxuries those days katni was a small town and the government estate that we lived in was far away from city.
Life in katni was a tough one though. We were told that for months the place would be cut off from main city due to heavy rains in the region. Mother was advised by the neighbors to stock things up for the rainy season. Mother was an expert manger when it came to tough situation. She used her diligence to manage on whatever was available. We were forced to survive on whatever there was in the house or on the vegetable from our own vegetable garden that we had in our house. In those days people were quick to adapt to situations rather than crib about things. Hence each house in katni grew their own vegetables. They would happily share the vegetables amongst themselves whatever excess they grew. As it was a small estate with no distractions unlike that we have today their was a lot of camaraderie among people. All were up to help the other in times of need.
We grew almost all seasonal vegetables in our garden like in summer we grew ladyfinger, aubergiene, ash gourd, bottle gourd and in winters we planted coriander, cauliflower, radish, carrots tomatoes peas and many more. Father would look after the garden and we children were strictly instructed not to harm the vegetables. I being the eldest would open water which would travel through the narrow lanes carved meticulously to allow each vegetable the right amount of water that was needed for it. We grew seasonal vegetables in our farm. I often saw my father and Mali kaka as we fondly called him who would take care of each minute detail nurturing every plant as their own child.
I had a lot of friends, I told you I was very extrovert and quickly could gel with anyone. Being in a government job my father would be posted to many places we got to see people from different places and different cultures living in harmony and brotherhood. Katni was a perfect example of this. We had an Uncle from Calcutta whom my mother often addressed as Doctor Gosh, he had white hairs and sported a small beard. He loved me a lot and each time he visited us I would jump and sit on his lap. I addressed him as Doctor Uncle.
As he was from Calcutta he loved girls. He would often jokingly ask my mother that he wanted to adopt me but always got answer in negative.” ALL CHILDREN ARE EQUALLY DEAR TO A MOTHER” she would say as she offered him tea and snack to eat, with a smile, sliding her fingers on my head which showed her deep love and affection for me. I too loved my mom dearly finding hard to club the right words to describe my feelings for her. Nothing and no one could take her place in my life.
There was the milk man kallu from whom I and father fetched milk. Sometimes I would alone walk down to Kallus shed which was near our house. He and his wife would beam with joy seeing me. His wife Shanti would offer me a glass full of buttermilk, served with salt and cumin roasted and crushed to powder .I loved to have it the very sight of which would bring water in my mouth . But I was also smart I would tell them to first draw milk from my favorite black cow who sported a small white spot on its forehead just like a bindi. I would then inspect whether the milkman had not mixed anything else and only after my inspection was over I would take the offer of buttermilk. But they enjoyed nevertheless each time I visited them I would always be made the offer which I never refused as far as I remember.
There was a small temple the only one in katni were our family was a regular visitor.
I cherished the bundi that would be given as prasad a sweet snack made from Chickpea’s flour offered to lord in the temples of India. There was only one idol of Shree Rama in the temple and it was a very small one. I couldn’t know why only one idol was present in the temple. The Panditji told us that the during rains temple would be closed for months together as it got drowned in rain water. This sounded interesting and I vowed to myself I would see the temple during rains.
This time as rains came down thundering and water spread all around, water in taps dried up. We knew rain water had shut the water station as it was submerged in water. Quickly I got dressed up to check on the temple and slipped silently from the house and ran towards the road to temple. To my astonishment the temple had drowned in water I turned around and walked slowly back home. Streaks of thoughts hit me mind like a thunderbolt Where was the Pandit had he drowned in the water, what happened to the idol was it safe within the closed doors of the temple or perished. But I kept these questions to myself rather than ask someone else lest they made fun of me.
Every day without fail I would check on the temple but water level refused to come down and rain would not stop. Mother nature was at its best. Time passed by and after 90 days one day to my astonishment I could see the tip of the temple. I was overwhelmed with joy clapping and jumping.
After few days, the water had dried up and temple was open for public. I saw the same pujari doing the Aarti and Oh! the Rama idol was also the same beaming with light. I asked Panditji where was he all these days and the idol how come it was intact without a scratch after remaining submerged in water for so many days. Father and mother both gazed at each other they were surprised by the depth of my thoughts. So, this was the reason you were worried so many days father said. I nodded my head in affirmation.
Panditji explained “No dearest this is a phenomenon which happens every year. As soon as it starts to rain I lock the temple and leave the premises only to return after the temple has emerged from water and the idol nothing happens to it as it has the blessing of divine Lord Rama”. With this he gave me the Prasad and said “so little one don’t worry next time you see the temple submerged. He the protector who protects and guides every soul shall bless you.”
We left with blessing of almighty only to wait for next rains to pour in. Was I convinced or not I do not know but it had done one thing established my faith in lord. Nature has its own way to flourish and grow.