Guava Trees

the goddess is here

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1. Swami

 

Swami watched through his room, his caged window his only source to the outside world.

 

*

 

Swami bathe himself, his clothes and his sandals. The sun hadn’t risen yet; Swami was the only bhakt bathing himself in the river.

He looked around, even the birds had just awoken, their chirping faintly heard in the background. He cleaned himself to his satisfaction and then walked up to the river bank. Swami put on his clothes and walked past the guava trees and mud houses to the temple at the end of the road.

The sun slowly rose into purple sky.

 

*

 

As a child, his father, the Pandit, had taken Swami everyday to the temple. Every day they bathe in the same river, cleansing themselves of their human dirt and then walked past the same houses and trees to the temple. The people then were believers. They feared the Goddess. They believed in her. They feared her wrath. The village was a different place then.

Through the years the trees had grown bigger while the houses grew in number and the believers declined. People had found faith in other things or lost them completely.

Swami had grown up with faith. When his father had died, he held it closer to him.

He was the obvious successor to his father.

Swami had now become the Pandit.

The guava trees had witnessed it.

 

*

 

Swami led the morning prayers, his offerings presented to the idol. The only people there with him were the beggars.

Swami regretted how the village had given up their faith in the Goddess.

He feared for them. He feared the Goddess might decide to punish them all.

He feared for his father’s soul.

 

*

 

When the Goddess came to him in his dream, Swami shivered in his bed.

She was frightening, more than the idol – more than Swami could have ever imagined.

He waited patiently for her to speak, fear the only hindrance to his complete awe.

‘Your people have forgotten me,’ the Goddess said. Swami could see himself in her sword; its metal was surely unearthly.

‘My Lord,’ said Swami, not sure what words to use next.

‘Repentance,’ said the Goddess and vanished.

 

*

 

When Swami told his people what had happened, what he had seen, they laughed at him.

Only the guava trees listened. Their leaves swayed in accordance.

When Swami became persistent, the people called him mad.

When Swami refused to give up, they locked him up with the mentally ill.

 

*

 

Swami watched through his room, his caged window his only source to the outside world.

He could see the temple, the Goddess its only inhabitant.

He watched her day and night, praying for forgiveness for his people until one night she came to him again in his dreams.

‘You have failed me,’ she said.

Swami cried, not in fear but feeling shame.

The Goddess swung her sword and took Swami’s life. His soul left his body, immediately attaining a position next to the Goddess.

He watched as his corpse lay still.

He listened as the sword struck again and again, the cries coming from all over the village.

The guava trees bore witness, again.

 

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