Chapter 16: Parineeti’s sorrow

vaikunta

“What do you mean, that is the question?”

“You don’t know Minerva very well, do you?”

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As Maya proceeded on her lonely quest, she felt cowed for the first time by the eerie silence surrounding her and the darkness that threatened to suffocate her. The image of her mother reminded her of her unfinished journey. She imagined what her mother would have told her had she been here.

Maya reminisced the pioneering tale of her great-grandmother that her mother had narrated to her just the day before her affliction.

Parineeti stared at the moon. The gentle breeze caressed her hair as she held the chubby hands of her three year old, Parikshit.

“Do you like being on the boat, darling?”

When Parikshit nodded an enthusiastic yes and held out his arms for her to pick him up, she whispered holding back tears -“Wave to the moon, tomorrow, sweetie. Mummy is going there with her friends from ISRO. Mummy will watch you from there.”

“Are you visiting Gramma there, Mummy? Can I wave to her too?”

“No, sweetie, Gramma has gone to heaven.”

“What is heaven, Mummy?”

Parineeti thought for a moment before explaining.

“Sweetie, heaven or Swarga loka is the place where good people go to after death. Do you remember Mummy’s stories on Indra, the lord of heaven? Indra is the king of swarga loka and he makes sure only good people like your Gramma come in and bad people don’t. Remember the picture of big white elephant, Airavata I showed you last month? Airavata is Indra’s elephant.”

“But Mummy, you told me last week that Vaikunta is heaven?”

Parineeti smiled at her son’s eidetic memory before replying.

“Vaikunta is the place where God Vishnu resides. Remember how Granpa was talking about moksha (salvation of the soul) sometime back? The people who get moksha go to Vaikunta. Only very very good people get moksha.”

The child’s eyes suddenly pooled with tears.

“Gramma was very very good. Why didn’t she get moksha then? Why did she go to Swarga?”

Parineeti realised her faux-pas.

“Oh, sweetie, Mummy doesn’t know where Gramma went. Both Swarga and Vaikunta are good places to go.”

“What is the difference?”

“Swarga is a transitory place for good souls who have performed good deeds in their lives but are not yet ready to attain moksha, or elevation to Vaikunta, the abode of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Vaikunta is 209,600,000 km from swarga. Do you remember how much distance is the moon from earth?”

“384,400 km.”

Parineeti blew the child a kiss before explaining further – “Correct. So Vaikunta is 200 times far away from that.”

Maya was distracted from her memory trip when she tripped over a stone on the rocky stream bed she was travelling and fell.

Author’s note: This is the sixteenth chapter of the novella “The God, The Girl and The Gem” I am writing as a part of the #BlogchatterA2Z #AtoZChallenge.

Fun Facts:

(1) ISRO is India’s space research agency. The story is set against the background Maya’s great-grandmother travelling to the moon on ISRO’s project. You can read about Chandrayaan, India’s unmanned lunar landings in real life here.

 

 

 

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