Lakshmi Ajoy posted under Flash Fiction QuinTale-44 on 2022-09-14

I sat in the temple weeping in deep anguish. Karuna had not returned back from her second shift last night and there were no whereabouts of her. In the early nineties, technology in India was still a newbie and had not progressed into cellular phones.  I had last heard her assuring voice over the local phone booth last night, "Mom, I am taking the 0009 hrs train from VT. I should reach our usual place by 0110hrs."  I had waited until 0200 hrs at the railway station. It was the same spot where we met to return home; but today, she had still not arrived.  I hurried to the station masters office to lodge a concern.  "Sir, my daughter had taken the 0009 hrs train from VT station, She should have come by now, but it's 0200 hrs and there are no signs of her." "Just leave your phone number, we will get back if we receive any news," he had lazily rambled. I dashed back home, lit the oil lamp and sat praying all night. Early next morning, I rushed to our favourite spot; the nearby Sai Baba temple.  Both Karuna and I had found solace and answers to all the doubts seeded on our minds at this place.  It was the only 'go to' destination where we invariably found a solution to all our mounting life challenges.  As I sat down, my eyes fell upon a small chit jutting out of the carpet in front of me. I instinctively picked it up. It was a folded, hand written note that said, 'Don't Leave!' I felt calm and assured. It was a definite sign. I sat there in deep meditation and kept sending healing prayers for my daughter's safe return.  At 0730 hrs, the morning aarti began. The temple priest and the small gathering of devotees performed the sequence of events.  As soon as I was about to leave after the aarti, the temple priest who knew me well, called out to me and said, "Don't leave! We have a special bhog offering. You must surely partake and your heart's desire will be fulfilled." I took this as an important cue from the Supreme Being.  As soon as the distribution was complete, I saw Karuna walking up the footsteps of the temple.  She looked weary and exhausted. At first, my heart jolted in apprehension.  She saw me and tears trickled down her face ceaselessly. She threw her bags down and came rushing towards me.  She wrapped me in a tight hug and broke down. I felt trepidatious.  My heart raced as I asked her, "Are you safe, my child?" She mumbled, "Yes, mom." Between her sobs, these were the most important words. I wrapped her in a comforting hug and shed tears of ecstasy. The faith in The Divine and the message from the chit I got there were well rewarded. We offered our sincerest gratitude to The Almighty and returned home with great relief and stronger credence. Glossary:
  • Bhog- A food offering to the deity that has been venerated and blessed; thereafter distributed to the devotees.

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