As the Ashram came in view around the corner, he could hear the footsteps following him. He stopped and looked around but did not find any one. But he was sure that it was not the cold winter breeze that was following him, not even the falling leaves or some innocent wild animal from the forests that surrounded the Ashram. Rishikesh, its heard that are full of wild animals but he never had encountered one in his various trips deep inside to meditate for weeks together. In fact he always felt comfortable there deep in the jungle as he knows that there are many wild animals wearing clothes roaming in and around the holy land – Dev Bhoomi. But today his heart was not so calm. Yogini has again turned his answers into bigger question. He had feared answering Yogini last time but at that time he thought he has the answers with him. And he did answer her. But today after so many days, she came back to him with her wide and swollen eyes (Yogini has never cried in the last six months he has known her so why today?) and asked him in her simple innocent way that does he know the answer he gave him last time, makes her more vulnerable than strong. She told him that now that she has the answer to her inner fears, she feels more weak and “Yogi baba, you have make me strong before I throw myself into the cleansing fire”. Does she know that by answering he even feared himself that he might not be able to say it once again? But Yogini in her own very innocent way asked him to help her and touched his emotions that are still raw although he has tried to dull them through various meditation, chanting and penance.
Is the footstep that is following him, coming from his inner fear? Is he still alive? It could not be, as Ashutosh died almost 12 years back. He himself did the last rites for him on the same bank of Holy Ganges that soothes his nerves whenever he looses his peace within him self. But then why this fear? Is Yogini coming over to ask him to come to Ashram as she has been doing it for last few months before he finally asked her to stop coming as it breaks his chain of thoughts and cycle of meditation? But still he knew that many times she, as was her nature, followed him from a distant. Not knowing that he always heard her coming and it always broke his concentration. Why there are so many questions and doubts in him today, why these question now? Again he heard the foot step and he slowly turned around to face his fears and he was right. Ashutosh Upadhyaya was standing there, smiling slightly in his charming way, which used to get so many of his girl friends, from another life in the city, sigh and hang on to his lips with their lusty eyes. He could raise his look beyond his smile and he did not want to see his eyes as yet. May be later when he has more courage to face his deep dark black eyes like the Mansarovar Lake – deep, heavy, calm but enquiring eyes. That is what he feared from him, his enquiring eyes and he knew if he look into his eyes now, he will have to answer his deepest fears to him and he was still not ready. But the setting sun was with him and even though if he had tried to see his eyes, he could not have seen him as the tree cast long shadow across his face and his eyes simply merged in the darkness that was there around him and within his self.
But why is he following him and how did he come to know where he will be? He wanted to ask him, what he wants now after destroying everything in his life that he cared for, felt for or wished for. What more he can give him now and what a Yogi can give who has nothing but only search for answers and may be few answers. And this chain of thought clicked and he understood that this shadow was also there to ask him for answers, just like Yogini Vashudha. Is Yogini talking to him too, Yogi baba wondered, did she asked him the same question that she asked him? He was sure if she did ask him then she has the answers too, as Ashutosh was never weak with girls with innocent eyes, even if she is a Yogini. She is asking him just to know that what Yogi Baba now thinks. Is he still fighting his inner daemons or he has moved on to the blissful path along with the holy river submerging in the holy waters all his emotions, belongingness and touch.
He heard the sound of bell before he could hear the breeze that carried the sound to him and breaking his fearful encounter with Ashutosh. He again looked around and Ashutosh was not there. He could not be sure now whether he saw him or not and the setting sun with the darkness, that was hanging from the deodar trees, was playing tricks with him and his fears. In the distance he could see, Yogini’s white sari and the typical childlike way she walked. She was looking at him with her innocent smile though he knew that she could not have seen him just yet as he was still in the shadows of the darkness that the jungle carried around and also he was sure that he could not see her smile too but still he could feel her smile.
But why that is making him feel light and the fears of her answers uplifting from his heavy heart. Is the answer that he has to give her is within herself? Yogini, are you asking me to find the answer within me or within you? Yogini, do you not know the answers to all that you ask…
….To Be Continued Next Week