On summer evenings, I’d venture out, with a shawl draped across my shoulders, few nankhatais, half crumbled in my palm and walk to the ghats. Sorcery knows no name better suited than evenings spent with a ghat.
Surreal how the noise of hawkers selling jhaal muri and khelana , young lovers stealing precious seconds, women who offer diyas and flowers to Ganga, priests chanting hymns and azaan from the mosque across the street fill the air.
The naukara majhi’s hoarse voice declaring his last call for a ride across the river, scuttering of people with their office satchels slung across their chest and vegetable bags weighing them down, the loud incessant chiming of bells, washes over you. A sense of calm in all the chaos that this world is.
I have spent hours listening to the river sometimes murmur, at times gurgle and burble while it brushes past the stairs leading into the river, creaking of the boat when anchored to the shore, tipping from one edge to the other, ripples that clang against the metal chains, the smell of salt and a concoction of camphor, incense and coconut unfurl.
A cold breeze caresses my arms and I pull the shawl closer, nibbling on the biscuits and looking across the river, for as far as I can see. A blurred bridge on the farthest end, dense forest on the opposite bank and in the midst the river, in all her might, a dozen boats sailing against her currents, in a fight to reach the shore.
Busy bodies walk by the side of me, drooping shoulders wanting to rest their backs. Few pause and mutter, a silent prayer or an unfulfilled wish, rishkas line in anticipation of passengers, pedlars enticing children with spinning tops and paper windmills.
The sky changes her colours, blazing yellows and bright oranges, she paints into blues and violets, grey with a streak of vermillion, the moon peaks out to make an appearance and the sun sets. I wait at her banks, till all I can see are the dark trees swaying and lights flickering across the other end.
Sweeping the crumbs off my palms, I walk down the stairs, curl my fingers around the ripples of the river. Like a mother, ever protecting and always watching over, I take her blessings, sprinkle water over my head and walk back, knowing that some memories beat within, like a second heart.