It was a long corridor, almost endless, punctuated only by the rhythmical echoes of footfalls reverberating in it as if they were the throbbing beats of its heart. At times they seemed approaching the little space that was my corner along the corridor and at other times they just faded as if receding into the oblivion. In that unending corridor I had a small place to myself and most of the times I sat alone there except on certain days when a wandering monk would come as if seeking his share in that bit of space.
It was in that corridor that while trying to unravel the mystery of the footfalls I witnessed a very intriguing sight. Clad in dark flowing robes, she had an elegant figure and carried a resplendent golden key in her dainty hands. Her sparkling dark eyes betrayed an esoteric secret and the enigmatic smile on her lips inspired hermits and monks to compose their hymns. The monk, who used to visit me, too had been trying to compose hymns and chant the same. He knew that the key that she carried would open the doors of a faraway shrine.
“It is a magnificent shrine guarded by high walls which rose majestically and seemed to humble even the skies. All the paths culminate at its threshold,” the monk said. “But when and where do these paths begin?” I asked him, “and how long have you been composing hymns to her?” The monk chose to sit still, unmoved, meditating, brooding. Was he trying to decipher the meaning of her smile? Was he ignoring my plea finding it too trivial to be considered by a learned monk? It is also true that even I could not recall since when had I been sitting there collecting the echoing footfalls trying to fill the emptiness of my little space.
Was it a dream or is this a dream?
Stillness descended on the corridor again and as I strained my faculties trying to figure out whether the footfalls were receding into oblivion or approaching closer but now they were no longer audible anywhere. In that blinding flash, while I struggled to keep my eyes open, a silhouette cam to life just next to me. Was it the priestess herself or just an illusion?
The monk had still not concluded composing his hymn and my questions. He had wanted to have the doors opened with that golden key so that he could sing the hymn at her shrine. And I had sought to decipher the course taken by those footfalls in the corridor. Where was the shrine? I remember having been once told by the monk about the location of her shrine. But I had forgotten about it.
The golden key still dangled in her hand as she spoke. The monk was busy gathering her mellifluence for his still incomplete hymn. Her eyes sparkled and in the stillness of the corridor my wanderings came alive. “Where is the shrine where all the paths end?” now I was asking her. The sun was now getting restless, peeping form behind her dark robe and as I followed her gaze I discovered that the neither the shrine existed nor the corridor.
What did I want now?
The stillness reverberated with very familiar echoes again. But now the quest to decipher their course had vanished. I did not want to know about the shrine either. In the monk’s still incomplete hymn and in the stillness all around me an eternal rhythm had dissolved every path, all doors, all walls and the threshold itself.