Standing to the far end of the group, five year old twins Ishaan and Kabir zone out of the well-rehearsed intonations of the Italian tourist guide. Eyes darting to both sides, looking for something to hold their interests, the impish ones settle on the majestic spiral staircase, the four flights of which seem to soar and meet the towering sky.
“Come on, Ishaan. Let’s go. I have seen this place before. Dumbledore can be up there.”
“You need a train to go to Hogwarts. Trains don’t go on stairs. How will Dumbledore go then? You’re dumb. I am going upstairs.”
“No wait. What if Mom sees us?” says Ishaan, unconvinced and not in the mood for a talk down.
“We’ll come sliding back down in two minutes. She won’t even know. Imagine that! Come on Ishaan. Stop being a sissy.”
Standing at the right end of the group, the handsome thirty-something gentleman registers none of the words but finds that the steady cadence of the tourist guide’s voice has a soothing rhythm to it. Then he sees her. Walking down the stairs; gliding even. An apparition in blue. As pale as the sky, as pale as her eyes. She looks beautiful, as she always did. She comes to a stop, ten paces away and he finds him unable to breathe. The air around him suddenly feels a little chiller, like the temperature dropped a hundred degrees.
Propelled by a force he does not recognize, he finds himself moving towards her. And then he’s thrown off his feet. Stumbling to find his balance, he looks around to find two children pushing him aside and running past him, onto the staircase. He looks up at her, knowing that she would be smiling at their antics. But she’s gone. A knowing sadness descends upon him. He sighs. It’s been six years since his wife died. He wonders if he will ever be able to let go of the haunting memories.
“The Castel Sant’ Angelo. Translated to English, it means the Castle of the Holy Angel. Commissioned by the great roman Emperor Hadrian …”
“I wanted to go to Vishnodevi and look where I am,” says sixty five year old Vijaya, bored of the tourist guide’s monologue and wanting to rest her tired knees.
“What would you have done in Vaishnodevi anyway, Vijaya?”
“I had a pact with my God, Rama. I had made a promise. I would climb the 4000 steps there, my offering to our Creator.”
“Oh come on, Vijaya. Be a Roman when you’re in Rome. We have Vaishnodevi back in India. Here, they have Castel Sant’ Angelo. See those stairs? Must be easily 400 of them. Go climb them up and down ten times. You’ll be done.”
“You can’t joke about these things. You should take God a little more seriously, Rama” gasps Vijaya, appalled at the casual disregard Rama has for God and religion.
Rama looks around disinterested and does a double take as she sees her two five-year-old grandsons giggling upstairs at the first landing. Right now, the only thing she wants to take seriously is catching hold of them, possibly by their ears, and bringing them back downstairs.
|Picture Credit: Pexels|
The above post is post 5 of 7 in a series of posts written as part of a 7-day, based on today’s image prompt published within the ‘Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018‘ challenge. The one-day delay continues to cascade but I hope to catch up, hopefully tonight!