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The whole city was painted in gold that night. Sparkling and rejoicing the divinity of the holy river Ganga, more than thousands of spectators had arrived to witness the grandiose Ganga-Arti. The once peaceful ghat of Varanasi was now filled with ancient melodies and prayers of the pandits and pujaris praising the gods. People all around were offering their respects, ambitions, and wishes bottled in flowers and oil lamps to the currents hoping that Mother Ganga fulfills all their dreams.
It was supposed to be some special day. Some once in a millennial mahurat. Not remembering what exactly for and not interested to know Rohit was already trying to escape this madness. His mother, Mrs. Singhania like every other citizen of Varanasi was highly superstitious. Believing in the crap of their family priest, she had dragged her husband and son to attend the famous Ganga-Arti of their town. Luckily when his mother was so entranced by the luster and charm of the river Rohit had managed to slip without her knowing but his fortunes seemed to be betraying him.
Thinking that no one could disturb him in a boat while simultaneously viewing the river he had happily skipped into the vessel but the main loophole he discovered was that the boat driver was a huge talker. He kept on babbling and rambling about how beautiful today’s night as though the velvet skies were draped with silky grey clouds.
Rohit wanted to jump into the river so that he could enjoy some peace.
“And you know that when-” the seventy-year-old rambled but Rohit cut him off.
“Please just stop over here, I need to get out urgently” he lied, feigning a fake urgency. The man nodded and stopped by the ghat’s stairs. Rohit, ready to pay was extending his hand but the old man declined.
“My price lies when you both meet,” he hinted cryptically while constantly declining his protests. Frustrated and annoyed he had turned around and began walking up the stairs when his breath got caught. His whole body froze as his eyes fell on the approaching figure.
Walking down the steps, a girl not more than her twenties or eighteen was carrying an oil lamp in her hand. She was pretty, he thought first. No, pretty was an understatement. Raven hair spilled down her back like pools of ink and her skin gleamed in a rich shade of gold. All the lights in Varanasi became a dull comparison than the hue tattooed on the anonymous girl to him. Time stopped and the world fell into oblivion for him. The moon out of nowhere came out of the clouds and struck the girl. She was looking divine, almost ethereal, too good to be true.
Something like this had never happened to Rohit. No, girls were always a game to him. A prize, a possession that he held a Ph.D. in but with her it wasn’t like that. So, when this mystery girl raised her eyes and looked at him his whole senses shut down and his heart skipped its rhythm. His palms turned sweaty, and an odd feeling of intense yearning swarmed in his stomach. Ugh! So, cliché he thought as he tried to look away but couldn’t.
“Radhe, Radhe!” the old man out of the blue chanted breaking them out of their strange hypnotic trance. The girl looked away and continued going down whereas he went up.
It was weird.
Something like this had never happened to him. What was wrong with him now?
Turning around and going back to leave he had almost reached up the stairs when an impulse pulled him back to the girl.
The girl turned too.
Once again everything faded away but this time a piece of him felt missing as she stood there on the bottom of the stairs, poised and pretty, away from him. A piece of him he wanted to know what it was but couldn’t.
Something was definitely wrong with him. How could he have turned around the same time as hers? His brains must be playing tricks with him because such luminous meetings didn’t exist. Realizing about how creepy he must have given off the impression of him on to her, he quickly turned back once again and began hurrying away from her.
It was the strangest night he ever had. The baseless theories of how destinies would change and how gods would descend tonight were starting to feel real to him too but then he shook his head.
Fairy tales only existed in books. In reality, only bad dreams turned into sureties.