These two snaps from Varanasi are the first two uploaded for a definite reason. They are compressed stories…
Mine I cannot claim, as on me there are several claims of the place and of the persons associated.
The in-process destroyed/reconstructed temple is at Hanuman Ghat on the banks of Ganga. I visited it for the last time in my life. The visit became last because the temple, as I had known it since my childhood, will not be there even if I happen to go to its site the next time I visit Varanasi.
My first response to the first look at all the construction material and the being-broken temple was of shock and an advanced stage nostalgia in advance. Intellectual acceptance of the inevitability and desirability of change is one thing. Doing it in life is another….
The shock was from a new source, but the reason (the process that gave it birth) a constant and old one. Varanasi had been changing even when I used to watch it every day, nearly a decade back. Yet, the novelty and the shock value of change were magnified manifold when my status changed from that of an inhabitant to that of a visitor, that too, an infrequent one. The people who had always been there, had already left the city back then. Only I had not the time to register their (permanent or temporary) going away. Secure in my roots and certain with the universal fact of the continuity of patterns in time, I never suspected that change will descend upon my life too, through an insidious agent: me. The story that has no human heroes, definitely has a human villain: the shatterer of dreams, the breaker of utopia, the heartless destroyer of the unacknowledged as unknown bliss…
As a child, I used to visit the Hanuman Temple with my dadi (grandma) for the evening keertans. A couple of those old songs do play in my mind, resonating from somewhere before 1983-4 (was never good at years & c., it was the year before my dadi died): “Bajrangi hamari sudhi lena” and “Sri Ram lala”, most probably set to the tunes of popular Hindi movie songs. Nothing spectacular or memorable per se. It remained, nevertheless, hidden somewhere, just to haunt me when least planned or expected. I am my past, and it’s me. No, I am not romanticizing it. I am not the agent anymore. It is doing the job itself, using me as an instrument. Past is a very reassuring place. A sanctuary where I feel protected because it’s already known whether good or bad, and no one can change it.