(Because I can’t stop putting these up)
Her chants of “Om mani Padme Hum…” rang through the little shrine as she placed bits of camphor in a clay lamp, filled in oil and lit it. She kept up the chant, the lyrics of her prayer felt to her like a comforting and paternal voice and she was thrilled by her own tone. It was this supernatural being who had always kept up her hopes whenever she felt like bowing, felt like avoiding her pride.
“Last night wasn’t the first night,” she whispered. All hopes of reconciliation with Brahmarajan seemed remote to her now. The mantras now felt to her as distant as a mountain echo, shooting off quickly but then dying off in a series of clamorous repetitions.
“I believe in me,” she whispered under her breath. Avalokitesvara now seemed to shine softly as she kept looking into his sightless eyes. Her own eyes were going into a trance-like shimmer. Time felt like an ocean of liquid metal to her, dense around her body and unforgiving to swim through.
Nothing more than the pre-dawn drone of cicadas, gentle breaths of breeze rustling fallen leaves as they kissed the ground and the young light of the morning moon, peering through the distant mists.
She sighed, then continued, “Passing out would be best. But what would you do, Compassionate One? How would you get about this? I tell myself every day that I am a proud woman, a woman no less, who would never bend down to anyone”-she bit her upper lip-“not even to you. But you are my last hope. And…I need some help.”
Clapping her hands together and finally lighting a stick of incense, she continued the mantras. Mahayana prayers and chants thundered softly from the depths of Minakshi’s soul. Something in her subconscious was lifting higher into her heart’s higher atmosphere. A ray of enlightenment, struggling to break out of a seething cloud of doubt.
What of it?
Pride, rage, whatever it was, it was all she could think of doing.
She had to know.
It was a quiet breakfast.
Minakshi glanced uncomfortably as Brahmarajan took his place, facing her directly as she put the plate down slowly on the long wooden bench. It was barely even dawn, and the only light in the sitting room came from the misshapen and corroded metal Narasimha lamp. The man part on the reverse-sphinx held two flames in his hands, and she crushed a bit of camphor into each flame, and got to serving herself.
The fires fell gently onto their faces.
“Flame,” she breathed delicately, “burning rich and poor alike. Illuminating the lamps of all, Shudra and Kshatriya, isn’t it? What a fascinating thing.”
“I thought you’d given up dreaming years ago,” he replied dryly, but then added, “and you have no reason to do this, to do any of this. Let me be in peace.” His eyes shifted uncomfortably from his plate of rice and dhal, his hot South Indian lentil dish, to the little bowl of peppery rasam.
“Oh right,” she laughed, “I’m sorry.”
Brahmarajan looked up at her for a second. “It’s good.” His movements felt, for a few moments, alien to him as he brushed absently at the steaming turmeric-infused rice on his plate.
“You’ve barely even served yourself.”
“I know.” His lips pursed as he made a sour face, then clutched his head. He had no clue of what he was doing at the moment. The room felt like it was spinning, and he looked for a bit. Brahmarajan now found it hard to even look at Minakshi. He stood up.
“No please.” Her hand gripped his upper arm, and he looked at her with red-veined eyes, forehead creased as he turned forcefully away.
The warrior tried harder to break away, but his wife’s fingers felt more like iron pincers to him.
They seared into the skin of his upper arm, and she felt his veins push against the surface as he phased between tenseness and relaxation.
“You can have some chicken if you want to, you know,” she continued.