There is an old Kali Mandir a few kilometres down my residence, on the outer Ring Road, opposite a bus stop which has now been named after it. A Mall has come up right behind it. The Mandir overlooks a busy service-lane. The untidy, unmarked abode of the Divine Supreme stands resolutely in the midst of honking traffic and hustle and bustle of day to day modern life as though superimposing itself with conscious determination on a world which has almost forgotten its existence in its callous, go-getter frenzy.
Even after several attempts at architectural grandeur, the temple remains dirty and beggar ridden. Nevertheless, devotees throng the premise with deeply guarded secrets in their heart of hearts just for the ears of the deity. The legend is that all prayers get heard at the deity’s durbar; however unassuming the precincts be the Goddess is ever awake and aware of the plaintive calls of her devotees. Many a time pilgrims are seen crawling on the ground fronting the temple in a bid to express their heart felt gratitude upon fulfilment of a mannat.
Interestingly, I was introduced to the sanctum by an auto driver. At that time I used to stay around fifteen to sixteen kilometres away from my present residence and was frantically looking for a flat on rent in the locality wherein I presently reside. My weekends would be spent house hunting, of course, without any positive results which meant that I passed by the temple every week without being aware of its whereabouts. Months went by in hopeless efforts till one fine afternoon speeding by the temple in an auto, the driver suddenly pressed the brakes to slow down the vehicle to offer his thankful prayers to the deity. The temple shutters are always open and one can have a darshan from the main road itself.
Touched to witness such pure devotion even amidst busy work schedule, I exclaimed with astonishment to find the pious spot so close to where I intended to make my home. It was then that the auto wallah told me how he had been lucky to have received Maata’s blessings during the adverse phases of his life – how all his prayers were heard and wishes got fulfilled in no time. Spellbound I listened to the incredible experiences. After a while, as he steered the auto past the temple, I suddenly bowed low and murmured a prayer. The weekly house hunting was bearing down on my nerves. Mentally and physically exhausted I pleaded to Maa for mercy.
Strangely, within a day or two I got the much coveted flat and by the end of the month settled down peacefully therein. Thereafter, on several occasions, I have felt the urge to visit Maata’s durbar and after every such visit I have returned happy and contented.
However, more recently I had another instance of visiting the temple when my pet Mr. Snow Boot suddenly took ill. No amount of medication and veterinary care seemed to have any impact on his declining health. Nothing seemed to be working for Snow. Day and night we would be coaxing Snow to have a few morsels of food but he plainly refused as though he had just given up on living. As a last resort I ran to the temple to pray for Snow’s recovery. With choked throat and tears streaming down my cheeks I whispered my prayers to Maa. In some corner of my heart I was fully confident that Maa would listen to me and extend a helping hand in my times of despair and distress. I returned lighter of heart and mind after my anguish filled communion with the Goddess.
A week later Snow left this mortal world forever.
I was dumbfounded. I did not know what went wrong. Where did I falter? Did I expect too much from The Almighty? Why did Maa not listen to my prayers? All my questions remained unanswered on that bleak morning when heart broken and grief stricken we buried Snow in the lap of Mother Earth.
It was a few weeks later that an e-mail message from my esteemed friend Omji cleared my doubts. It said that the Lord knew best which one of our prayers to hear and which ones to disregard. Plans of a mortal being fail as the Lord takes over to decide in which direction our lives should move. He is the best judge. Even if we try we cannot fathom his greater and wiser moves and plans which get revealed only on hindsight.
The message opened my eyes. Though I still pine for my friend Mr. Snow Boot and still do not know why he was so suddenly taken away from us, I want to tell all my friends and readers that I have not stopped praying, oh yes, knowing fully well that at times the answer can be a very big no. Surrendering to the All Powerful with the strongest, staunchest belief that He would never fail to be by my side in times of need and necessity; even though he may not give a vote of agreement to all my desires and pleas, nevertheless, He would always guide me well and clear my path of all thorns and thistles as I stagger along.
I continue to humbly bow to His command…