Relentless faith. 

Atop this hill stood a majestic monument carved out of a single rock, which housed the deity of wealth. Getting up there wasn’t an easy task, but for those people who lacked riches in life, pleasing the deity was their only hope. Word of mouth said that earnest prayer would grant a richer lifestyle, how long, depended on your faith. The pilgrim center was a serene complex, the main shrine was a monolith dated back to the kings of the yore. The intricacies of the carvings in the sanctum sanctorum vivified the visitors. The altitude ensured cool climate and breathtaking views while the temple gave a religious touch to it. Pleasure for the eyes and prayer for the soul, this place was aptly known as “Daman”    

Neha threw her book away and looked into her mother’s eyes. “I will find him and punish him mamma” she shouted out loud. Both their eyes were moist as her mother pulled her close and hugged her. With a choking voice she explained to her the importance of graduating and finding a good job. She was soon to be the lone breadwinner for the family. Her mother put out all the energy that she could and worked as a maid, washing dishes and cleaning half a dozen houses without a break. She saved penny by penny to fund her daughter’s education. Hoping that Neha would start earning on a bigger scale, she did not tag her along to do the menial chores. 

Leaving her with her books, Neha’s mother walked to the stove to prepare a meal for the family. As she was cooking, her thoughts took her to the future. Neha was an adult now and it was her responsibility to get her married. Her heart boiled as she thought of how Rateesh left them and went away. It was all of a sudden that he left them with nothing. All that Neha and her mother had were clothes to wear and money whatever her mother had in her purse. She clearly remembered the day when Rateesh said that he would be back in five minutes and did not turn up until this second. Those nights spent at the railway station with her daughters were incredibly difficult. When survival was at question she found herself visiting Daman. She was more than happy to have both her daughters alive and healthy. If anything would remind her of her husband, it was Neha’s eyes. Luckily that was the only noticeable inheritance from him. Neha was a good looking girl; she was fair, over five feet tall, long black hair that fell to her back. It was time she had to get married. Did she have the funds to do that? She wondered. 

Stuck in between the horrific past and uncertain future she decided to visit Daman.

A few weeks later, the trio left for Daman hoping to please their deity. En route Daman, Neha tried to explain to her mother that she wasn’t in a hurry to get married and she wanted to take care of their family. “Let’s pray to the almighty to take care” was what she told Neha. Only he knows the right time to make things happen.

 Daman was in its most beautiful display. The rains had just completed and it gave a new life to all the plants around. Neha and party had just completed their earnest prayers in front of the deity and were seated in the temple complex.  Since Neha was coming here after a long time, she wanted to mesmerize herself with the intricacies of the carvings. “Can we take a walk around the whole place mamma?” “Sure beta” her mom replied. 

They started by doing the rounds of the temple. The carvings of the monolith had short stories from the ancient scriptures. As her mother explained what each story was, Neha and her sister listened and appreciated the beauty and finesse of the sculptors. 

Who is that in the armor and why is he holding a fruit? Little Rika asked Neha who in turn looked at their mother’s blank face. “That is Lord Revron, the bestower of food” said a deep voice from behind. Neha immediately turned back to see who it was. He was looking at Rika and explaining “the fruit symbolizes everlasting food while the pitcher in his other hand provides the elixir of life” and he continued telling a story from the yore as Rika and her mother listened patiently. 

With one hand on the rock and another in his pocket he explained, as Neha stared at him. He had a dusky complexion and was about half feet taller than her. He wore a clean shaven look and neatly trimmed hair. Broad and well-built shoulders were visible from the tight fit T shirt that he wore. As he shifted his hand making movements to explain stuff, his biceps moved to and fro. Neha felt a sudden jolt inside her. She felt a craving for him. As he made eye contact with her, heart beat started to rise. He was handsome. “Does the deity have a name?” Neha asked with a quivering voice unsure if she had done the right thing, but she wanted to see him in action and explain. It was a re-question but never mind, she wanted to hear that voice. Nothing else around her mattered, everything turned blur as she laid her full concentration on him. The precision with which he looked into her eyes startled her, some unknown desire started to take shape. She wanted to touch him. She looked at his firm wrist on the carving and imagined holding it. His chest was broad enough for her to place her head twice. “Anything else you want to know madam?” He asked Neha, while she was still observing how the sound emerged from his lips. Coming back to senses by the tug of her little sister, Neha answered “No thanks”. Her mother observed. “We are going to the room, Neha” she said as she left with Rika. Rika stared at Neha with a mischievous smile.  

“Can I ask you, how do you know all of this?” Neha fumbled. “I am actually overseeing the renovation work of this monolith” 

“Hi, I am Neha” 

“Hi, Ketan” he replied as they shook their hands. 

“Neha, you are incredibly beautiful” he said.   

Neha’s mother walked out of the temple with tears of joy, and trust in her heart. “Only the almighty knows the right moment” she murmured. Daman had always answered the prayer from the purest of hearts. She had to return after a few of years for Rika.

Twilight set in as Neha introduced Ketan to her mother.      

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