Monthly Story, March 2023
Image → Anand Pathak
Archetype → Lover
Rasa → Śāntam (शान्त): Peace, tranquility. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: perpetual white
Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green
Kavita sat down in front of her favourite idol in the lotus position. It was a beautiful bronze that she had encountered at a market in Assam; that was two years ago when she had just joined a tantra house there. Kavita still remembered how this exceptional statue stood upon a tacky wooden shelf housing rows and rows of average idols in the dimly lit alleyway; it alone was illuminated by a chance beam of light entering through a hole in the makeshift plastic sheet roof of the street vendor. The statue almost seemed to speak to her; the same way an unforgettable stranger would catch your eye in a crowd and call to everything within you without uttering a word, in a moment suspended in an otherworldly light. Kavita simply walked over, took out all the money from her purse and handed them over in two fistfuls. The dumbstruck idol vendor had followed her transfixed gaze to the statue—a handsome depiction of god Vishnu—and handed it to her with a short prayer. He probably retold this story of Vishnu’s divine grace overwhelming an earthly woman—who didn’t even wait for the change—to all his future customers. Still, after two years, whenever Kavita sat in front of the statue alone, it took her back to this moment of complete surrender, where she would do anything, give anything just to remain in that rapture. She had not parted with the statue since then. Even when disenchantment with the tantra house led her to leave Assam for good, the statue came back to Colombo with her, lovingly cradled between the softest of her clothes.
Kavita gazed at the beautiful form of the statue and felt a familiar fire erupt between her legs, at the sacral chakra, and travel up to the top of her head in a pleasantly simmering beam. Although, from the obvious iconography, Kavita knew it was meant to be Vishnu, to her it was beyond names and labels of indoctrinated religion. To her, it was simply and profoundly the ultimate reality—the only love. It was, in material form, the very same divine experience of her sexual awakening as a thirteen-year-old trying to not feel what she felt amidst the sound of temple bells, incense smells and her devout parents’ prayers. As an adult, Kavita hoped the tantra house would help her discover how to love the divine in its microcosmic bodies of mortal men and women; but, all her attempts failed. She only wanted the ungraspable —the absolute, the only.
So, she decided to confront the desire. But, it wasn’t easy. Every time she attempted to let her longings come out to the open fields of her mind, an army of voices would attack. Voices of her religious parents would lament warning Kavita of burning in hell fires reserved for sinners who commit the worst of blasphemous acts. Guru Gopal’s voice would ring in her head in its infuriatingly calm demeanour, telling her how this is all a matter of an overactive sacral chakra.
In the past, when faced with these confrontations, Kavita would retreat her desires to the shadowed areas of her mind that only came alive between night and dawn while her peripheral pieties slept.
But today, she suddenly realized that the voices were no longer attacking her. Instead, she was naked with her desire out on the vast open field of her mind, alone and waiting, troubled by none. Kavita gazed lovingly at the bronze and felt the sky descend on her with equal tenderness.
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The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.