When the priest was blowing conch

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Excerpts from ‘Some Mistakes Have No Pardon’

…It was a cloudy evening, not raining heavily, but drizzling. There was no snowfall yet. But the temperature must be touching zero. Freezing cold. The chilled January evening, when the water droplets on the oak leaves was freezing into ice, when the icy winds could freeze rain droplets before they rolled down to cheeks, when the old grannies and grandpas draped in the hand-woven black blankets in those hills were warming their wrinkled hands in the bonfire of dried pine wood, when the sun had sunken him behind the high peaks of a few western mountains of Kumaon, when the pale moon was struggling to show behind the  jamming clouds, when the resident priest of the temple was blowing conch and shaking the brass bell to awake the deity in his evening prayer, when the flock of birds were trying to hide and warm themselves in their nests behind the cedar leaves, when the frogs buried in the bamboo grooves had started their evening cacophony, when the newborns were crying for their mother’s breast milk, when the cows were ruminating in the cowsheds after grazing day long, when the ice-chilled tiles on the floor of the temple were freezing the blood in the bare feet of the bride and the groom on the temple premises in front of the watchful deity, then…only then, Girish put a garland made of black-pearl beads into the neck of Tara, his new bride, dressed in the fiery red attire, in the presence of two taxi drivers, the priest who refused to solemnize the marriage and looked the other side, and the emotions beating marble stone idol of the deity – in that temple at that hill top of Almora.

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