That was not the place for him to be in as he did not believe in existence of gods and goddesses and hence had no reason to be there. Yet he was there in what was considered to be god's own abode. She was a believer, but she was not there for herself, she was there as an escort to her grandmother Surabhi who visited the place every year. As an only adult in the family entitled to a vacation as a practising lawyer, she was assigned the task of accompanying her grandmother.
He was there to write an article on this place of pilgrimage as the magazine that he worked for was doing a feature on places of pilgrimage around the world and this was the most widely visited place in India thronged by religious people round the year.
He, she, and he...Dhruv, Arohi and Viraj were all there in one place but for different reasons and followed different schedules. They were strangers and would have remained so had it not been for unseasonal rain that threw their routine out of gear. But life probably is a series of coincidences that eventually create our destiny.
Surabhi had maintained her routine of going to the temple every morning and evening, coming back to the resort where they had put up only in the afternoon for a couple of hours of rest after lunch. She would leave early morning allowing her granddaughter Arohi to work on her cases peacefully. Though Arohi worked through the morning studying the cases that were to come up for hearing when the courts reopened, she either accompanied her grandmother to the temple or went for long walks in the evening.
Viraj kept moving from inside the temple to the place around in an attempt to collect bits and pieces of information that would make his article more interesting and readable. A lot had already been written about the place and he needed more material to make his article informative and enjoyable.
Dhruv kept to himself, seldom emerging from his room, and immersed himself completely in his work. Thankfully, his company encouraged the work-from-home concept and he was able to accompany his best friend Viraj at his insistence oblivious of the fact that Viraj and Dhruv's own family had conspired to get him out of the house after that unpleasant event that had thrown everyone of his family off balance.
When the rains prevented them from going outdoors, they had to remain confined to the resort. The local civic authorities were not equipped for unseasonal rains, the normal functioning of the place was disrupted, and they were practically cut off from the rest of the world. While the roads were clogged and flooded, electricity supply was interrupted and phone and cable networks were also adversely affected. After some time inside the rooms when it got stuffy without the fans, guests at the resort started to come out into the garden. Instead of sitting in their own small groups, they all centred around a big table forming a large group and started chatting away like old friends meeting after a long time.
A while later, when his laptop battery died down, Dhruv also emerged from his room and joined the group reluctantly. Surabhi, who did not allow anyone to remain aloof for long, made umpteen attempts, in vain, to draw him into their conversation.
"Your friend seems to be a quiet type," she mumbled to Viraj who could not bring himself to say what was troubling his once extremely extrovert and jovial friend. Dhruv had been engaged to a girl suggested by his relatives, approved by his family after getting a final nod from their family astrologer. Even as the marriage preparations were in full swing, they had come to know that the bride-to-be had married an NRI and moved to the USA. They were all shocked at the sudden developments, specially at having been dumped so unceremoniously.
But Surabhi was not the one to give up so easily either. She could sense from whatever little he said, or from whatever he refrained from saying, that he was a non-believer. She steered the topic to religious policies of the current government. Gradually Dhruv started participating in the debate that followed. Since they were in a place of pilgrimage, all others were devout people but were amazed to notice that though a non-believer, Dhruv had in-depth knowledge of all and his belief – rather, lack of it – was based on his studies and not on any wild notion. Also, he put forward his views in a manner that did nothing to offend religious beliefs of others.#comebacktomorrow