It was dark by the time Don set foot on the 7th and final bend. He could see the 6 hairpin bends from the corner of his eye. Experiences were on the right and feelings on the left. There was no temptation to look back or turn around. There was calmness and peace in his demeanor.
The sky was jet black mostly, only interrupted by the twinkle of diamonds that lay strewn carelessly. Don looked up to notice the sky that cushioned the stars. The occasional comet scratched the surface, but the forgiving soft sky always hid the scar.
The mercury had dipped further to about 5C. Smoke billowed into the sky announcing it’s presence to the immediate world. The small huts that punctured the mountain slopes had woken up gradually from a deep day long slumber. The birds chirped silently in the distance, the gentle breeze whispered to the trees, the church bell rang in the distance.
The music of the night had just begun.
An old motel stood alone in the distance. The bulb on the signboard highlighted it s age. Don decided to stop for the night and resume his journey in the morning. He knocked on the door gently. The chiming bells at the door greeted a pair of eyes. A raised eyebrow questioned the wanderer.
With the exception of the crickets and some distant birds which hymned rhythmically, the quietness of it all was otherwise soothing. A passing vehicle flashed headlights and her face lit up momentarily. She had brunette waist length silky straight hair, sharp hazel eyes and wore red and black check skirt and top. As the vehicle passed by it disturbed the curls serenity. The dimpled cheek didn’t complain though.
‘Are you a wanderer?’ she asked.
‘Why do you want to know, aren’t tourists allowed here?’
‘I need a room for the night’
There was silence.
Don’s gaze flirted with the lips rather than the eyes.
‘There is one room –but you’ll have to wait a few minutes’.
‘– can I sit there?’ Don pointed towards the sit-out on the other side.
‘Ok – I will need you to fill the details here’ she forwarded the register and went inside.
As Don started to fill up the form establishing his credentials, his pen stopped at the junction where the form forked the marital status.
Don took a seat near the fireplace. He sat down with the unfinished form in his hand. His mind wandered back to the days just before his trip to Ooty.
It was rather a small room where they met. They sat across each other, the table was not big, but the distance between them had become unreachable.
Don signed the papers and the divorce formalities were over and done with – He looked up to see Roohi Dasgupta go back to Roohi Ali Khan again.
The once “it” couple had now split.
Fond memories and pain fought for a legal existence in Don’s mind. A peculiar conflict.
The battle was won by fond memories, but the war was won by pain.
It had all started with an umbrella, a deserted bus stop and torrential rains.
Roohi and Don had met by natural coincidence. As the raindrops fell lovingly on their hands and feet it also wrote their future. While the cold winds caressed their faces, warmth forced it s way into their hearts.
Time didn’t wait to tell them that they were very similar to each other. It just clicked liked magic. Soon the entire college was giving examples of their compatibility and plotting their glorious future.
It did quite go according to the plan as well. When Don presented the idea and intent of marriage to Roohi, his parents were speechless.
‘Ma,Baba – I want to concentrate on my studies right now, and then focus on my career, at least for the next few years, and once I decide to settle down, I would like to do it with Roohi – of course if we still feel for each other the same way we do now.’
Don did exactly what he’d promised. He finished his education, got a decent job, and now it was time to get married. After the initial hiccups on the inter-racial tie, everyone turned out in full support. They got married eventually.
However, time had other plans for them. Their compatibility and comfort increasingly stuck out like a thorn to the people around them. Till one day it got to their creators.
‘I just can’t stand this drama – this farce’ remarked Don’s father. A man who had never connected with his wife. For him this love, this affection was nothing but a façade.A man who had married only to respect his father’s wishes and squash his own.
‘I’ve seen life from close quarters – sooner or later they are going get fed up of each other – then I’ll see where those compatibility philosophies go’ muttered Roohi’s mother sarcastically. A woman who had lost her husband to ego battles and alcohol abuse.
She had indeed seen life from closed quarters.
Roohi and Don resisted their influence for some time, but eventually succumbed to it.
The definition of life and love is very subjective, and they were out to set an example.
The sweet nothings became silly things, the spontaneous gestures became carelessness, blind support became the blind spot. The constant criticism and fault finding got to them. They began doubting their relationship, they began doubting themselves.
Hurt is even more incisive with your loved ones. Some scars never go away. Until one day they accused each other and fought a bitter battle. One up-man-ship brought out the worst in them. The same support squad of friends now acted as fuel to the fire – all under the garb of help and support.
Don and Roohi were after each other’s happiness.Revenge was on their minds. They spent days thinking of ways to hurt each other viciously. Roohi contemplated a stiff alimony and Don gathered evidence of extreme mental harassment.
‘Have you filled it up?’ she asked politely.
Don snapped out of his stupor. He was perspiring a bit. He wiped his forehead and managed to look calm again.
‘uh-huh – yes’ he said handing over the register.
‘are you ok wanderer?’ her eyes spoke more than her words.
‘Yes I am ok, maybe a bit tired perhaps’
‘Your room is ready and it is one the floor above’
As Don got up to leave, he noticed a glass jar with some odd shaped stones inside it. The stones were oddly shaped but perfectly placed. Each bend or curve on each stone seemed to compliment the other.As result even with their odd shapes, they kind of formed a symmetry.
As he looked closely , he saw that the jar contained 7 stones.
Don was taken aback. This is was surreal. He had just crossed 6 hairpin bends and was on the 7th and final bend before he reached his destination.
‘Is this by design or by chance?’ Don asked pointing at the jar.
‘Nothing in this universe is by chance, everything is by design’ she said rather plainly.
‘Who designed this?’
‘Eternity – I am sure you must’ve known her. She picked up the stones from the hair pin bends below. Each stone has a story to tell’
- Provide – for your loved ones and those who need love.
- Protect – your beliefs from being broken.
- Nurture – your love and grow every day.
- Create – pass on the love to create a loving life.
- Embrace – what comes your way, accept and move on.
- Ensure – you learn from every mistake.
‘But these are only 6 what about the 7th stone.? What message does it give?’ Don asked anxiously.
‘That you have to find out yourself’. She left the hall and went inside before don could ask anything else.
Don went to his room upstairs and lay down on the bed thinking of the day gone by. So much had happened. It had opened his eyes and soul. He reflected on the incidents leading up to his separation with Roohi. The last bone of contention between them was the farmhouse at Ooty.
They had invested in – not only for the money, but for their retirement plans and vacation getaways. It was also nostalgia for them as they spent their honeymoon in Ooty. Letting go off this property was tough for both. Each claimed rights on the property.
It had reached a deadlock and a bitter battle ensued. Till a suggestion came from someone to sell off the property and split the money. Such was the pain and hurt that Don and Roohi didn’t think for one moment before signing off the papers.
The new owners were eager to demolish the farm house and make it into a hotel.
Don had received a note from the new owners, asking if he was keen on collecting some old stuff they had found lying in the attic.
The heart found a renewed reason to raise it s voice to the mind and Don was on the bus to Ooty.
The night floated into dawn.
Restless, tossing and turning right through the night had Don fatigued instead of being relaxed. He had conflicting thoughts about going to the farmhouse all along, but in the morning, this morning, this new dawn, there was something different. He couldn’t explain it , but felt it. There was something within him wanting to speak up.
Before his mind could speak up again, Don rushed downstairs. He noticed the stone-filled glass jar lying on the floor but he did not stop. He walked out briskly and headed towards the farmhouse. As he approached the farmhouse a myriad of emotions flooded his mind. The times spent together flashed right in front of his eyes.
As he entered the gate, he tripped on a stone lying on the path. Regaining his balance and composure, he looked at the stone and found something odd.The stone closely resembled the texture, the curves and pattern of the stones in jar at the motel.
He slowly bent down to pick up the stone.
A familiar silhouette cast a shadow on the stone. As he looked up, it was Roohi.
It was then he understood the meaning of the 7th stone – forgiveness.
The 7 hairpin bends had taught him live a new life.
Gyanban thoughts - In the journey Don undertakes he goes through 7 different challenges,in each of the 7 hairpin bends.
Each of the 7 obstacles are tied to one single thread - that of self limiting belief. Life throws up more questions than it gives answers,therefore sometimes it is imperative we become alert to the messages around us.The more sensitive we are to our environments the lesser chance of the universe construing against you.
The vows taken in each phera are as below:
- With the first phera, the couple invokes the gods for the plenitude of pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful.
- With the second phera the couple prays for physical and mental strength and to lead a healthy and peaceful life.
- The third phera is taken for the fulfilment of spiritual obligations. The gods are invoked for blessing the couple with spiritual strength.
- The fourth phera is taken for the attainment of happiness and harmony through mutual love and trust and a long joyous life together.
- The fifth phera is taken to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire universe and for begetting noble children.
- The sixth phera is for bountiful seasons all over the world. The couple prays for bountiful seasons and seeks that they may go through these seasons together, just as they would share their joys and sorrows.
- With the last phera they pray for a life of understanding, loyalty, unity and companionship not only for themselves but also for the peace of the universe.
For those who are keen to read how Don got here, read in the following order -
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