A New-old Story (7)

The moonlit night, blue-black,

One of its constellations

Outlined the dog-monkey

Saw they, they said.

And dog-monkey too

Was outlined seated, pinnacled.

People lined for darshan

Late in the night

And brought with them a platter

On it some flowers white

Or yellow, red or mixed.

Some incense sticks and camphor,

Ocimum leaves, oil-kumkum –

The ochre paste in a bowl

To offer, anoint with the new god.

To colour him in the image

Of the stone templed Hanuman.

Our hero, elusive, wily:

Just manned his post silently.

Laddus for Hanuman, Shiv’s milk

Offered to him serially; ineffectually

Decorated on the platter

Of rich and poor alike.

So passed on days fourteen.

Dog-monkey took no water

Save rain/dew droplets small

Ate he just banyan berries

On overhead dangling branches.

Stone-like he stayed throughout.

A stone idol was he, or monkey petrified?

For darshans flooded devotees.

Singing bhajans of their new god –

The latest avatar.

It was a moonless night,

Draped in sheets of rain.

The neem-owl soundly slept.

Night watchmen skipped their beats.

The morning mysterious brought

Devotees for darshans came,

To their dog-monkey’s altar,

Offer some fruits and flowers.

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