I was on a solitary trip to Kailash mountain range in Uttarakhand-the speculated place where Lord Shiva happens to reside.
Snow had capped the entire domain. Occasional roar of wolves echoed the valley. Flakes dropped from canopy of the Boreal vegetation. Unlike normalcy, it was darker, moon and stars accompanying me to route through the woods.
From a safer distance, I witnessed something paranormal.
Stairs stretched upwards and disappeared within foamy clouds. Guards roamed hither and thither, inspecting every little movement about the space. Their faces were dark, as black as burnt ash, a few of them wearing blood strained tattered clothes. All of them had an obsessed face, sneer and anger seamlessly reflecting from their fretful eyes. Besides, a few of them had no arms while others had flesh and bones protruding out. In no time, I concluded that they were not humans, but corpses.
One of the guardsmen while trying to escape caught me. Wrinkles covered my forehead, making me wedged, until I recognized to be trapped in that pandemonium. My heart drummed spontaneously, at the same time as the blood went cold.
‘How did you die?’ one of them asked.
‘Dead! Sorry, I’m living,’ I stammered. ‘I’m Abhi.’
‘Are you an intruder?’ another asked scornfully.
‘Please sir, I’m a trekker,’ I said folding my palms. Meanwhile, I had gathered enough courage to get out diplomatically from the vicious web of those spirits. ‘I’d come to Garhwal.’
‘But, you are at Kedarkhand(present day Uttarakhand). So, have come to meet him?’ a dead lady interrogated.
‘You mean Shiva! Is he living here?’ I expressed in shock.
‘Stop calling by his name,’ she shouted furiously.
How a devoted Hindu could have missed that opportunity? After several pleas, I was allowed to ascend the stairs. On reaching top, my eyes witnessed the most enigmatic view of life-the sight that left sages chanting his name for centuries.
Dark bluish man with dense hair twirled like threads, adorned by the crescent moon, half shut eyes with elaborate seriousness, the golden Cobra hanging like a necklace upon his blue throat, sat on a pulpit, composed and pacified. Nothing was unreal except my journey.
‘O Nilakantha, o Almighty,’ I mewled involuntarily, raising my hands to hail his name. ‘I can’t imagine this.’
‘Because you imagined, you’re here,’ he replied with a graceful grin.
Certainly, like any other stranger, it took some time to believe the impossible.
‘Is that moon always crescent?’ I asked innocently, pointing to his head.
‘No, it changes. Don’t you recognize the moon that you see every day?’
‘But, astronomers never see you carrying it in the sky?’
‘Certainly not, they try to see the moon, not me.’
Thereafter, we spent quality time. He offered me fruits and delicious cusines, much similar to what we eat on earth. On vide his offer, he assured to me fulfill the wishes I asked for. After all, he appealed my conscience with deep values of humility which became a source of life long pursuit.
Suddenly, I was awakened from the bed, running short of air, as if something chocked my windpipe. In fact, I was shivering on that hot summer night. I sipped some water and closed my eyes for a moment.
‘TATHASTU. Hence, we’ll never meet on earth,’ a tone reverberated which vanished in flash.
I knocked up from bed to find nothing but constant peace. However, the conclave got extinct in the realm of dreams, throttling my mental equilibrium for days.
Since then, no one believes in my story.