Chapter 2. Watcher.


 रूपं दृश्यं लोचनं दृक् तद्दृश्यं दृक्तु मानसम् । दृश्या धीवृत्तयः साक्षी दृगेव न तु दृश्यते ॥

The eye is the seer and forms are seen. The mind is the seer, and the eyes are seen. The seer of the mind is never the seen – Drig-Drishya-Viveka.

I was in the second year of my primary school.

The school was generally boring and noisy. Some say that the school system teaches you to be intelligent, but the associated knowledge is questionable. I just did not see the point of the classroom and wanted to get out.

One day I decided to bunk the school.

As it was my regular practice to get to school by walk, I decided to head in a different direction away from school that morning.

The walk took me to the local bus station. This was Bangalore in early 70’s with no threatening traffic. I found a comfortable spot and sat down. I should be the only person in the bus station without catching a bus. I had the excitement of bunking and being cautious about getting caught.

I watched all that happened around.

I watched the road and the passers. The plying local buses painted in red. The double decker buses ferrying school children and public. The packed trailer buses and occasional Jatka or horse carts that were popular those days in Bangalore.

I simply watched.

This was unlike passing time.

It was getting past the rush hour. Those days the rush hour in Bangalore had moderate traffic.  The crowd in the bus station was slowly dwindling down.

Behind the bus station stood a historic temple built in the 12th century. The temple’s Kalyani or tank stood adjacent to an ashwattha or peepal tree at the western entrance outside the main temple complex. It was popular among the locals performing religious ceremonies. The main temple complex was surrounded by a huge wall all around.

I walked towards the Kalyani and sat under the shade of the peepal tree.  I continued watching about everything that happened around.

It was nearing noon. I had the practice of going home for lunch during the school noon break that lasted for an hour. I stuck to this timing and walked towards home.

I was soon back in the temple complex after my lunch. Now I decided to spend the rest of the time inside the temple. The temple is usually closed for visitors from mid-morning to about five in the evening. It had two entrances, one through the main door that was most popular among the public and the other through the western door near the Kalyani.  The main door is huge and about twenty feet in height and ten feet in width.  It had a small wicket gate built into this larger door through which you can get inside. I sneaked inside this gate without getting noticed.

The temple premises were silent and empty. I found a cosy corner and sat down comfortably.

I continued to watch.

Sitting in the quietude watching the silence was altogether a different experience.

The place had a clock. I was aware of the passing time as the hours went by.

It was four PM and time to head home. This was evening rush hour in Bangalore with moderate traffic.  Those days it was a sight to watch the public sector buses plying the streets of Bangalore during the rush hour. The buses were of various shades of blue and resembled a procession.

It soon became my daily routine.

I would leave home at 8.30 AM and ensured I returned promptly by 4.15 PM. My morning schedule was at the bus station and later at the Kalyani. The afternoon schedule was inside the main temple complex.

I just watched. I watched all that happened around. I enjoyed thoroughly.

The school had vanished from my memory.

Two months passed.

And one day I was caught.

I always carried a bag to school daily. On this day, I had decided to leave the bag at home. The bag was becoming an unnecessary load to carry and walk.

My sister noticed the school bag left behind at home. She promptly walked to meet me at school to handover.

I was conspicuous by my absence. The teachers said they had not seen me for months and wondered if I had left the school.

All hell loose broke when I returned home.

I received a good share of smacking and advice on importance of school. This was followed by ample advice from my teachers on the following day. I promised not to repeat.

I was back again in the noisy school.

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