THE RE-CAST ICONS
“It is a chance, a coincidence, or predestined (if you may like) by the benign gods”, the wise echo.
Working on the re-casting of the old icons, days, months and years passed, for now we were angry and sad about the old icons for they had lost the efficacy, or so we believed.
Ceremoniously the icons were brought to the fierce day light from the moist sanctum recesses, washed and put on the pyre. The silence chanted the prayers of death. There were thirteen days of mourning and daily rituals.
The icons of the mother and her two children had remained in our soul’s heart for ages between the flickering golden light and the mysterious dark depths.
The old cloths and the dry flowers were removed and thrown in to the sacred waters. We thought that this would erase our luscious memories of them.
When we use to love the icons,
we use to wake them up in the early mornings with music and loving care,
bathed them in seven sweet fluids, milk, honey and such.
Wiped them anxiously for the fear of cold.
Put on washed and pressed new cloths, and gold and pearl ornaments.
Put fresh flower garlands around the necks,
and kept our heart flowers at their lotus feet, on the loving hearts and on their valorous crowns.
Made them wear different kinds of shoes and cloths as per the changing seasons, burned incense and mosquito coils for the different purposes at different times.
Fed them all kinds of different food made from fruits, nuts, butter, grains, meat and fish, when bored we promised them to make special breakfasts and ones with items of chocolate alone.
Just like that we always looked at them with delight while we prayed,
standing across and smiling to ourselves in wonder and delight.
We prayed to the gods to keep them with efficacy.
Now under the hammer they lied broken in the dust, our bleeding tear droops bid farewell silently. But some even ran with the running train thinking that they can fix the passage of time.
Later the smith put them in a crucible and into the heat to melt,
red hot our icons were poured into the new wax moulds to make new icons.
The smith allowed them to become cool for a few days. Those days we prayed into the emptiness, the sacred vessels of worship gapped at us in ridicule, sanctum looked like a poisoned womb, the scattered food on the cow- dung floor was untouched by crows. We were empty and silent. Some cried with out an end pressing the head into the pillow. Some shouted and shrieked in anger.
But all waited too, anxiously to see the new icons to be breathed in with new life, and for the ceremony of lending the glance.
But when the smith opened and cleaned the new cast icons we could not believe our eyes, they looked exactly like our old icons radiating with the same old power to heal and bless our sick hearts. But it was of a pretty dog, several servants of love, and a piece of earth where no one may ever walk.
In them we saw our losses recast through mourning to celebration. And there was still something excess left in our storage urns to give away as alms in a poor man’s celebrations, and to be burned at the pyre- a chance, a coincidence, or as predestined (if you may like) by the benign gods.
Shivaji. 20th Feb. 2002.
A PRETTY DOG, THE SERVANTS OF LOVE, AND A PIECE OF EARTH WHERE NO ONE MAY EVER WALK
By chance, a coincidence, or predestined, the old icons has now turned out to be of a pretty dog, of some beautiful servants of love, and a piece of earth where no one may ever enter.
The belief turned colours; doubt, disbelief and then belief again.
For, actually the new icons were only for play and fun,
and the piece of land we now owned was only a picture, and not a serious one at that, but truly no one could ever walk into it.
Although absolutely beautiful, the bright orange ground and the golden sky studded with ever sparkling diamonds, the lovers could only watch it, but couldn’t walk into or own it. The emerald trees flowered red, yellow and white, and when matured into fruits could be eaten only by the colourful birds and beasts. The flowers could be smelt and sucked only by firefly like bees. In the liquid gold water of the rivers, ponds and of the faraway seas where languorous blue mermaids lived, had no dreams of getting married or having a family, they also only wanted to play. The reptiles and beasts had fluffy wings and flew gracefully from here to there and ate the luscious fruits of future.
The lovers constantly gapped, and walked, but into the picture they could not reach.
But even now the rituals continued; the icons needed daily washing, lighting of lamps, new cloths, flowers, gold and pearls and new food. We also floated rose petals, and lighted incense, all in the name of the loved icons, for oneself, and for other lovers.
Daily the icons and we also drank chicken soup meant for the impoverished souls along with other medicines to keep us alive and happy.
Learnt and taught what Michelangelo had said about sculpture over painting and mutual jealousy of artists. Or made this or that plan for the tomorrows. Went to the market and took home lots of sweet grapes and the like, remembering Rumi, Akka and Meera, and cigarettes to smoke.
Said no to others who wanted to droop-in in twilight, for we wanted time to practice love and worship.
And when we kept hearing about the stories of trains and towers being burned, imagined about lives leaving in a shriek, and burned flesh and bones twisting and turning in the burning metal and concrete, our souls do suffer, but since there was a piece of land that we could watch and worship we resisted pain and survived.
Yet the recast icons were forlorn, though unhappy they had a dream to cling, a beautiful piece of land where some one may walk into some day.
Shivaji, 1st March 2002.