The Temple

I often sit in the temple across the street from my house in Mumbai. Not to pray, but just to bathe myself in the vibrations of all those that do, all those lucky ones that so easily believe in the divine power of faith …


I usually have a space in a back corner on the floor of the temple, a little hidden from sight, where I can be the observer rather than the observed. A lot of young actors frequent the temple asking for divine interventions in their careers. Imagine their surprise when they turn around and see one of India’s recognizable directors crouched in a corner. They may read too much into divine intervention !
This day someone had taken my place. A nice looking young man, his mouth whispering a silent prayer, eyes closed. He had a cloth laid across his lap as if he planned to be in meditation for a long time. I just quitely crouched on the floor next to him. A little irritated at having my secluded corner usurped.
His whispering stopped. I turned and he was staring at me. I suddenly noticed his nice looks and extremely wide broad shoulders. An actor I thought. For they spend half their lives in the Gym.
But he sounded more humble and had no self consciousness. He asked me why I had forsaken my fans in India and gone to the West. He spoke intelligently about my films and about cinema in general. He even extracted a promise from me to make my next film in India and in Hindi.
What did he do ? He was an assistant accountant in a small firm in Mumbai by day and was studying computers by night. He had come from a village from northern India and was sending home money monthly to support his parents, who were now too old to work in the fields. Saving money to do that meant certain sacrifices.
like walking to the temple every morning from his shared shelter in a slum 2 miles away. To save bus fare. And then to work.

 

He suddenly smiled, put a hand out to touch my feet, and said goodbye. As he removed his cloth from his lap and moved away from me, I realized why this young man had such strong shoulders. He had no legs. They were just small shrivelled useless bone and skin tucked permanently under is upper body. He moved by pushing himself along his haunches.

 

Two miles everyday to say a prayer.

41 Responses to “The Temple”

  1. shaily says:

    hey
    sorry i m writing abt ‘paani’ here but i m a bit new to this blog business…u know when i watched thje movie called “maatrubhumi” i think that was the name in which they show a village in india which doesn;t have any girl.(it was abt the female fetocide)..that time i realised this abt water u know..the thing which scares me most right now is the water war..if that breaks out, it wont be like that its a big nations thing..it will be abt u and me..or my neighbour or even my classmate…we’ll all fight…and there wont be any thing to stop it..even if wouldn’t want to fight but it shall happen…however much we preach or teach…the day the war breaks..it shall drown each one of us.!!
    its like we only understand things in their absence..be it love, or water!!
    anyways..dont know actually wat to do abt it..i m an architect..u know lots of things can actually be done abt revitalising and rejuvenating the water reservoirs, etc etc,,,but all enthusiasm ends at teh door of govt-the system–the authority– by teh time they-‘l-l- reakl-i-se it might be to-o- late!!

  2. eliyas.com says:

    hey Shekhar, when you write and show photos about the things you write, It effects me greatly and makes me think hard about myself and my life and be grateful to god even more.. I think the only thing which keeps me alive is my faith and hope. As I mentioned in my earlier comment about growing up in Bombay within a large family (we are 6 Brothers) 2 of my brothers have polio my father gave up every thing for them. I know what pain and suffering is when my brother decided to do an operation on his leg and the operation went bad (thanks to the doctor) he had to go through 10 operations and 6 years on bed, the only thing kept my brother laughing was hope, Hoping that he will walk one day, I came to America hoping that I have a better future. I am sure the guy you mentioned in the temple the only thing that keeps him going is hope. In my humble opinion, I pray for him and for his success

  3. ravi swami says:

    I should title this “Sacred Thread” – as in, “what happened to the “astrophysicist…” thread – before you answer that, Shekhar, – I guess it’s because threads tend to get worn out and responses (I incl’ mine…) more and more incoherent, as if senility has set in..
    R

  4. kedar says:

    Hi dude…
    What a story teller you are!
    Exposition is so perfect. your motive of going there makes me relate to you and the ambience immediately.
    And then-
    The moment you say my place was taken by some one else. the conflict starts. as a reader( audience)
    i was desperate to know who that guy was and why was he sitting there?
    and then slowly the character is revealed to me. a simple guy who made you think of your roots.
    and then like O’Henry’s stories final twist comes- the guy doesnt have legs.
    ‘Two miles everyday to say a prayer.’ i think that is one of the best last line i have ever read in a short story. it reminded me of O’ Henry’s ‘Last Leaf’. because in this experince turned story of yours i felt the guy not having legs is not the final twist. the twist is when you say ‘ Two miles every day to say a prayer’.
    its not a twist of the plot but its a twist in an emotional world of the protagonist whose story i was reading. and because of this it gave me a feeling of reading or watching an epic drama.
    it was such a relief that you didnt start questioning after that last line. all your questioning is again right there even in this experince. but since you have managed to STOP at that last line, something great have been achieved. you actually denied your MIND at that moment when you wrote that line as a last line. the pathos of life is concentrated in that last line.
    but then what next? what a protagonist should do after this kind of an experince. he should dance! why?…because he knows when to CRY!
    Crying is an emotional orgasm. Observer becomes observed while crying and observer is still there. MIND becomes vulnerable and finally gives up when the person is crying. but the moment he gives out a final sigh ‘hummmfff’, MIND takes over. in that one moment the whole universe is re created by the MIND. observe carefully after a cry, the person does the most primitive things. because he is born again after the cry. he is still a child for a while before his EGO starts working again.
    so again crying is going to help to give the glimpses. so questions are going to remain un answered. so how to remain THERE forever?
    After this one has to believe. if mind is getting purer and purer that means its high time to take control of the mind. belief will guide the person in right direction. there is a difference between belief and faith. the person can beleive. Faith is the end result.
    so its time fot the protagonist to believe and to CHOOSE!
    either jump off the cliff or sit to meditate..but choose… or…
    Two miles every day to say a prayer.
    take care…lots of love…kedar…

  5. Loner says:

    Thank you Shekhar for choosing to blog instead of putting time in writing an autobiography. This is a wonderful medium to instantly connect to so many people.
    I come here everyday.
    That was a touching story and shows how life gives you so many opportunities to learn and grow.
    Best wishes.

  6. Hey Shekhar
    U are a great story teller, there is no doubt about that. The best part is the questions u raise through ur short articles and make people look deep within for answers.
    This story seem to be a complete one. I miss shekhar’s questionaire in this one, though sometime questions n answers are just intellectual game we play with ourselves or sometimes in the group, as it is an individual battle where every individual has to carve a road by himself which would lead to his salvation. Lets end it by saying knowledge is necessary before experiencing things and thats what we are doing here, Sharing and growing, thank u shekhar.
    Next time i shall make sure to check the corners of all the temples insearch of a person like u, hehehe
    Takecare

  7. Sheetal Peta says:

    Shekhar,
    We are all handicapped unfortunately by something called mind (mind should have been an asset)…and with a handicapped mind we are all travelling on our haunches(no pun intended).
    But where do we find the temple… can our workplaces or homes be called temple? Or is the temple only in our minds. But you see unfortunately our minds are all handicapped, and finding it in our minds becomes the essence of life…or does life start after we find a temple? May be we are too handicapped to find and that’s why we cling to gurus HOPING and BELIEVING that they can help.
    My question to you Shekhar: is there anything beyong Belief and Hope? Why don’t you throw some light on it (or did I miss something that you’ve already thrown at me?)

  8. heather says:

    Dear Shekhar
    When you wrote this here, I could not say anything, tho I sent it to my dearest friend. When you wrote it on Intentblog, I said very little, still more or less unable to speak. What I said there was I hoped you met this man again. Now that things are quiet again, here is what was on my mind from the first: This man is a story, and you’ve written it here. But it could be told on film, as well, and reach many more. The man could be in a film of yours, and the money he’d earn would be helpful to him. Fame, money and attention will change him, it’s true. But other things will, anyway. His life is not a single moment. He has shown he has intense focus and drive and humility. These would never be completely lost, no matter what enters his life. When I said I hoped you’d meet him again, I meant: I hope you meet him again and see for a split second what burns in my mind: a film with him, about his life, including your meeting with him within the temple nearby, exactly as you told it here the first time.
    love, Heather

  9. sid says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    No doubt its an excellent write up but somewhere deep inside by heart refuses to believe that this actually happened to u. For me this would be more of a story coming from a writers heart than from the mind of a person who acutually went through it.
    Don’t take it otherwise, just felt so.!!!

  10. shekhar says:

    Sid, does it matter ? But for the record, both the temple and the young man were an actual incident ! shekhar

  11. sid says:

    Shekhar,
    I take your word, was just wondering on how cruel life has been to this man, inspite of all that he still instills faith in GOD… what would his prayer be all abt ???
    – overcoming his disability (which he knows would never happen)
    – escape discrimination from the society for being a disabled (which he knows would chase him till his grave.)
    – Health and Happiness of his very old parents (which he knows will never get any better with age)
    Whatever his prayer may be abt, hope god gives him everything that he asks for, not because of the disability that he has, but for being gutsy and showing the willingness to surmount the sufferings life presented him with…………..!

  12. Mumukshu says:

    Shekhar,
    You are simply amazing.You could have wrote a book and made it a best seller….but I really appreciate
    you for sharing your thoughts with your fans through this blog.
    Mumukshu

  13. Tina says:

    Hi Shekhar,
    I came across this site while surfing the web, must say its truly an amazing one.. its very difficult to put your thoughts in words.. atleast for me..
    The story is amazing .. its very rare case where you find one loving god without any selfish reasons. As kids i remember we used to intensely pray to god during our results and exams.. :)…
    I hope i am not taking this off track but recently was watching this serial “Krishna” where Krishna says that even though he loves Sudama and wants to help him he can’t unless Sudama himself does’nt ask for help. Krishna further explains that Sudama knows asking for relieve from the pain means getting entangled in the process of Karma and their reactions. But he wanted to get rid of this cycle and return to Krishna for his true love for him. How many of us can really feel that kind of love for god… ?
    Recently i have been making conscious attempts of not asking anything from god during my prayers.
    Thinking of the man in your story i feel he unselfishly loves god…

  14. Mandeep Benipal says:

    hello sir,
    Temple just a great thing, beautiful naration, end is shoking like a movie, i think it can be made beautiful short film also, i’ll try.
    good part of the story of ‘Temple’ is those people who don’t have faith in god may change theire views,

  15. Rutuja says:

    Hi,
    A heart rendering story…but yet so inspiring too. Hats off to the young man , he stands tall on his shrivelled legs.
    Thanks for sharing the touching story.
    Rutuja

  16. Lonely Traveller says:

    Good Evening Shekharji,
    There are not many words i can find to comment on this story. Just that the parents who have a son like him must be very lucky. I being an average person with everything that should make me thankful to god. Yet at times when it comes to being responsible towards my mother – at times i fail… thank you so much for sharing this…
    Take care
    Traveller

  17. kushal says:

    sir,i am a filmmaker. just started my career.i have been admiring your film since masoom. i loved Mr. India, Banditqueen. i like your style. variety in your work attracts me very much. i want to assist in pani so that i can learn depth of filmmaking. i have already given my Resume to your office boy sunil but dint get any reply. calling him again and again is of no use. visiting your office frequently wont help me as you dont stay there. please help me. give me a chance. kushal srivastava, 9833743327

  18. hello Shekhar sir ..,
    your story is cool, amazing. your views and thinkin level is always very amazing.. these stories are very heart-touching and heart rendering.
    i m enjoyin ur stories….current days

  19. John1141 says:

    Very nice site!

  20. rasraj says:

    very inspiring indeed.the narrative is like your movies simple and compelling.

  21. venkatesh says:

    Shekhar,

    After a while i have read and felt an excellent observation. It just took me off to lot of meanings, possibility, perceptions a total journey at last when settled down felt the essence of life. We actually start developing an attitude that we know a lot and are one of the best interpreters but by this we just move away from the basics. I see a lot of joy in that man in what is going on in his life and is so aware of his situation that each moment he is been able to take pleasure out of it. Joy in ones situation actually nullify every other obstacles, potholes & disability. If i have mistaken what i have understood please do take the plains to explain to me i am eager to learn & know more about it.

  22. Janita says:

    His way is the goal.
    When you believe you can find it in everything.
    To say a prayer it does not need a place, a house or a temple.
    Because it is inside you and were ever you go its with you.

    I like what you write.Because it enters in my heart.

  23. amita says:

    so wonderful and touching.. first time on this blog ..

  24. lovita morang says:

    Dear shekhar, kedar is right! I made few telefilms based on short stories of guy de maupassat and o’henry otherwise I was never aware of stories. But the temple and mother, I find the magic of your creations parallel to the classics,if I take the liberty to say better indeed. Desperate to see your stories in book form.
    Regards
    Lovita j r morang
    Guwahati,assam

  25. lovita morang says:

    Dear shekhar, kedar is right! I made few telefilms based on short stories of guy de maupassant and o’henry otherwise I was never aware of stories. But the temple and mother, I find the magic of your creations parallel to the classics,if I take the liberty to say better indeed. Desperate to see your stories in book form.
    Regards
    Lovita j r morang
    Guwahati,assam

  26. Sheela Nandini says:

    Do you still go to the Temple, Shekhar ji?

    Love
    sheela

  27. shekhar says:

    yes, I do

  28. Sheela Nandini says:

    Thank you for responding!!! Had plenty of questions in mind but let go…

    A Sunday morning.Beautiful weather.Tea.Biscuits.A True Story.Tears.Questions.A tearing up inside…

    Why do you do that- to us , to you?

    Love
    sheela

  29. Sheela Nandini says:

    Shekhar ji, I needed to share part of the poem after reading Shabana ji’s tweet to you.

    TIME

    These events
    Incidents
    Conflicts
    Every grief
    Every joy
    Every torment
    Every pleasure
    Every smile
    Every tear
    Every song
    Every scent.
    It may be the pain of a wound
    Or the magic of a tender touch,
    One lonely voice or cries around;
    Successes and failures assailing the mind;
    The upheavals of care,the tumult of the heart.
    All feelings
    All emotions
    Are like leaves
    Floating on the surface of the water.
    As they swim along
    Now here,
    Now there,
    And now they disappear,
    Gone from sight,but
    There must be something
    Flowing along.
    What is this river?
    What hills has it come from?
    To what sea is it going?

    What is Time?

    Javed Ahktar”Quiver” Poems and Ghazals.
    Translated by David Matthews
    ***
    Turning out to be a gorgeous Sunday 🙂

    Love
    sheela

  30. Sheela Nandini says:

    Oops-that’s Javed Akhtar.

    “Yeh Waqt Kya Hai?”

    And to think it all started with your Time in the Temple:)

  31. Deepak says:

    Hello Sir,

    Its India, i.e. Bharat… and more than half of it runs on faith.

    A moving story in deed.
    Reminds me of a short story i penned a few years back.
    I would like to share that with You if you like.

    Regards,
    Deepak
    (@lit_deepak)

  32. Sheela Nandini says:

    Hi Shekhar ji,

    It’s a Sunday morning again:)))) Tea.Biscuits…And yes a glorious sunny morning-just soaked up the morning sun for a few minutes.And thought to check out your tweets first.

    You mean Amma- Mata Amritanandamayi? My pranams to Her!

    I am sorry but have to share all this here(and I am not sure when these comments will get approved,heh heh) but I haven’t gotten around to watching Pradhan mantri on TV yet-we don’t get that channel:( Must ask the cable chappies.I haven’t even seen it on You tube.Will do that today)

    Wanted you to know that it was a complete let down not getting to meet you last year(not that we even got around to exchanging emails on that,but I tried).And my friends in Bengaluru thought I must be absolutely crazy to even believe that you ,a CELEBRITY,(their words) would even care to do that! And they told me so. The tone here is not accusatory but just to say I felt curiously deflated after I came back to Hyderabad.And thought I must have really been crazy to believe that such a thing would really happen!

    Have a splendid time in Kerala! 🙂

    Take care,

    Love
    sheela

  33. S Anand says:

    Shekhar Saheb,

    You are an excellent narrator. I am always mesmerized by your flow and logic.

    The belief is not really proportional to fruits it bear.We sometimes dont have any other way except to be devoted even further to cause of prayers and hope there will be some postive change.

    You have excellent are and pls keep up your good work.

    Rgds

    Anand

  34. skonealone says:

    Shekhar Sir,

    I like your story-telling. Loved it.

    Thanks,
    -sk

  35. Prem Shetty says:

    Hello Shekhar,
    By above story u reminded me of my sister, who is affected by Polio remained unmarried did phd., n is a Dr. In a well known hospital in Mumbai n taking care of Daddy,having a driver to drop her to the Hospital n pick-up + two servants @ home to take care of Daddy. She has 4 brother’s one of them is me, who are taking care of their wife n children having own house. Imagine, what would have happened to Daddy had my Sister wud not been a handicap then she may not hv studied much wud hv got married n taking care of her kids. Feel, God has it’s own plans to take care of the World n those living on Mother Earth. I am indebted to my sister, who is taking care of Daddy due to whose hard work we are in good position n earning good but I do not take care of my Daddy but my Sister, which is shocking to me. You r a deep thinker beyond ordinary n intelligent th4 I hv special admiration fr u. Due to ur above quality u appreciated a disciple in ‘The Temple’.

  36. Kat Fan says:

    Very touching story, thanks for inspiration Shekhar Ji.

  37. Sheela Nandini says:

    ” I exist because you imagine I do.”

    Gotcha!

    “Tujhse naaraz nahin …”

  38. Surabhi says:

    Shekharji
    You are a FANTASTIC story writer. This story is very heart-touching and I am enjoying your stories. Doesn’t matter weather this story is real one or coming from a writer’s heart. There is a message in it,which we must ……..
    I am responding late because, there were so many responsibilities,no time for myself. Now things are settling ,Ab apne liye thoda sa samay…….
    Keep sharing with us.
    Love You.
    Surabhi

  39. Surabhi says:

    Shekharji
    You are a FANTASTIC story writer. This story is very heart-touching.Doesn’t matter weather this story is real one or coming from a writer’s heart. There is a message in it,which we must ……..
    Keep sharing with us.
    Love You.
    Surabhi

  40. shekhar says:

    thank you for this beautiful letter, shekhar

Leave a Reply