Celebrating Silence

It was a usual serene morning at the ashram. The black of the night was magically morphing into bridal hues. From one end of the ashram, lilted soft Om…Om, the universal sound. Radha needed no sound to wake her up. Her body worked in complete rhythmic balance with the day and night at the ashram.

It had been five years since Jennifer, now called Radha, became a permanent resident of the ashram in south India. Jennifer’s urge for serving her inner being had brought her to the ashram. Little did she know that the long journey from her hometown in Germany to the dusty lanes of a sleepy village in South India, would fill her mute world with so many meaningful conversations.

Jennifer, a thirty-five-year-old teacher, taught life skills to differently-abled kids in her hometown. Though she felt satisfied helping those special kids, yet she yearned for her personal growth. The first time she saw the Guru giving a discourse, she heard nothing but somehow understood everything. He spoke in a local language, but how did it even matter to Jennifer? 

That was when silence first spoke and Jennifer heard! 

Jennifer stayed back at the ashram! It became her new home! She was renamed Radha and she dedicated herself to the Annapurna Kitchen seva at the ashram.

Petite, active and ever-smiling Radha, won everyone’s heart at the ashram. She seemed to have magic in her hand. She experienced ultimate bliss tied to the ashram routines and flowed mellifluously from one chore to another. Dressed in a plain white kurta, a cloth bag slung through her shoulders and a long tilak across her forehead, Radha always teamed it with a divine smile.

Tann…Tann

She rang the temple bell. Bowing with the reverence she felt gratitude for the noble task given to her of cooking Satvik food.

The kitchen was indeed an awe-worthy place. Feeding almost a thousand people every day, it was a wonder in itself.

Giant size pans, skillets and woks set in assembly lines processed a daunting quantity of food every day. Work flowed seamlessly through lines of volunteers, who harmoniously conjoined to make the most delectable, heartwarming and belly fulfilling food.

Varied sounds breathed the kitchen alive every day.

Chann…Chann of the sizzling vegetables, Putt…Putt of the spluttering mustard seeds all enlivened the place.

The pukk…pukk of the water boiling and the Chop…chop of the vegetables teamed with the rattling dishes. 

The kitchen was the place where each sound took a shape and form for Radha. Suffering from mutism since birth, Radha experienced a new life in the kitchen! 

She could see, smell and taste those sounds. The sounds formed a beautiful symphony. She heard the most melodious composition made and served in the form of soul-enriching Satvik food!  

Radha joined the other sevaks in the kitchen. The kitchen was one place she came back, day after day. It filled her voids! It filled her world with vibrations, sights and smells that touched her body and soul.

Glossary:
Ashram- a religious retreat for hindus
OM-a mystic syllable in Sanskrit 
Seva-selfless service
Tilak- a mark worn by Hindus 
Satvik-high morals 
Sevaks-server
Mutism-condition where people are not able to articulate because of congenital deafness.

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