I saw Shreya looking at me from the doorway. I looked at her and smiled, she smiled too. She made a sign of ”aarti” and I mumbled a yes.
‘Alright children, time for aarti…so lets wind up the class’, I said. The children happily scampered away.
Only Little Nimai sat in his place repeating what had been taught to him. I sat down near him. ‘Nimai’, I said
He looked at me smiled and went on repeating.
‘Nimai’, I repeated, ‘Don’t you want to go for Narsimha Aarti’.
He raised his head and said, ‘Aarti?’.
He ran at the speed of lightning.
Thursdays are special days here in Bahrain and especially at the temple. Thursday evening there is a Bhagvatham class for adults. At the same time some volunteers take classes for children. They are told stories, taught some life skills, some activity and so on.
Nimai is a special needs child. He sits in the class if he is in the mood. But when he does so, he does with full attention. And though I try to remain neutral to all the children, over the weeks I have become very attached to Nimai. Maybe it is his transparency or his dedication, I do not know what but the fact is whenever I come to temple, I search for Nimai.
By the time I reach the main hall in the temple, the aarti is at the last stage. And then a voice raises, ‘Nitai Gaur Premanande’ and everyone join in with a ‘Hari Haribol’ and I smile a broad smile. Nimai may be always in his own world, but he never forgets to add in at the end.
It has been two weeks and I haven’t seen Nimai. And I am upset. ‘Ananya’, Shreya says, ‘Why are you so upset? So many people come and go.’
‘Shreya, Nimai and his parents are very dedicated. They will not stop coming to the temple just like that’, I said teary eyed.
Although married for ten years we haven’t had a baby and it has now been proved that we will never have one. I love children and I try to maintain an emotional distance from them. Often mothers get disturbed when they see a childless woman getting attached to her child. But Nimai? I did not understand why I was so fond of him. Was it because he knew to love without barriers or the fact that both of us will never be complete?
It was almost two months now since Nimai was not to be seen and I felt helpless. It was weekend and I just took my car and went. A couple of times I had dropped Nimai and his mother to their area because it had been late. So I took my car to that place and decided to search around. I just knew the area. Didn’t know which building or flat they lived in.
The best bet was the cold store. Usually the workers in cold store know who lives where. And so I went in. ‘Oh that boy’, the man at the counter said on my description of Nimai, ‘they left this place. Their employer shifted them to Askar as some construction is going on there’
‘Askar?’ I thought. Askar is a place quite far off and that meant that I would have to resume my search the next day.
I slept heartily that night. I awoke with hope, yes today was going to be a bright day.
I left in the evening at three. I would reach there by four thirty. That meant I had enough time till dusk to search for him. I knew where Nimai’s parents worked and had inquired where the people of that company were housed.
But it was not so easy. Askar was a desert literally. There were some hundred houses. Not a cold store or a tree in sight. Where would I search. And then I saw a large place. People were going in and many were coming out. I asked one woman what was going on. ‘Oh that’, she said, ‘it is our prayer hall, go inside you will like it’, she said.
I removed my footwear, washed my feet and went in. It was a prayer hall alright. You could see all faiths there. On one side was Maa Durga, A Shivlinga stood in one corner. Sai Baba smiled at me while on one side A sardarji was quietly fanning the Guru Granth Sahib. I felt happy. I knew Nimai and his parents would surely come here.
It was 7 p.m. and I was dejected. Night was about to fall and I had to reach home before it became very dark.
I rose and came out, ‘Where could I search for Nimai now.
‘Mataji’, a voice boomed.
I raised my head. Nimai ran from the other end came to me and hugged me tight. I got down on my knees and we both hugged again and wept.
‘where had you disappeared Nimai’, I said, ‘I have missed you so much’
‘Sorry mataji’, his mother said, Our employer asked us to relocate overnight, I didn’t have your phone number to inform you. Nimai misses you so much’.
‘Do you Nimai’, I asked. He nodded shyly.
‘You know mataji, this is the first time he is showing attachment to someone other than us and we are so happy about that. It has been because of the love you have given him and your patience’, she said.
‘Nimai will you like to come for classes again’, I said.
He shook his head wildly in the affirmative.
‘But Mataji’, his mother said, ‘we live so far off and we don’t own a car, so how…….’
‘Don’t worry about all that’, I said, ‘If you have the will, everything can be arranged’.
I went back home with a spring in my steps, my search was over, Nimai would be back in school.