She had a feeling she was going to sink in the sands on which she stood. Something had just broken off or added itself into her being. She was oblivious to the commotion around her. There was nothing she could hear, nothing she could see, nothing except the man, nothing except the name she read on his lips. Kaveri.
He came closer. The smile on his face looked centuries old. He himself looked much older. She had met Sadhus before but never like the one standing before her now. On his ash smeared body were scars that told their tales in a language she could not read. She couldn't decipher the inscriptions that his eyes wrote all over her. The only thing she understood was that he had taken the name.The name that meant everything to her. He had taken her name. He knew. But how? She needed to ask him, but words didn't come out. She realised that she was blinded by tears as they escaped ceaselessly; she wept, there was no end to it. She did not know who she was, she had no idea what was happening to her, all she knew was if this indescribable feeling continued to invade her mind, she would stop breathing.
The Sadhu was still smiling. Then he brought up his hand and touched her forehead. She felt his warm rough hand move across her forehead. There was something in his hand. Ash, she realised, as he rubbed it on her head. She made no protest. She could feel her old self take over again. He spoke at last
"Do not fight the circumstances.They are there for a reason. Do not wonder and cry. You are here again only for a purpose. She is alive. Find her. Take her back."
She knew it. Her heart knew Kaveri was alive. Nobody wanted to believe her but here, this man told her the only truth she wanted to hear. She believed every word this man said. She wanted to. There was nothing else to believe.
She fell down to her knees and held his feet. "Where?? Tell me where is she? Where do I find her? How will I know? Please!" she cried before collapsing on the sands.
He helped her by the shoulders and made her stand up. "She is where your journey began my child, where the waters meet. She is here. And she waits for you. Find her. She has all the answers."
"She is here" the words echoed through her soul. She started laughing amidst the tears repeating"she is here", "she is here", She will find her, she will find Kaveri, she had to. That was the answer. She needed no answers after that.
Somebody called her name, she turned to look. It was her father. She turned back. But the Sadhu was gone.
Her father came shouting. "What is wrong with you?? Where the hell have you been? And whats all this on your head? Answer me!" He shook her out of her trance. She answered all his queries in three words. "Kaveri is alive."
Sangam had always given her the answers. "Where the waters meet" she recalled the Sadhus words. She went to the banks. It was unusually quiet. Her grandmother was saying her evening prayers. A few other souls were praying to the confluence to bless them. The Mahakumbh vibrated with chants and devotion of millions of people from all over the country. Washing their clothes and sins in the same silent waters. And the water goddess embraced them all, her beloved children coming for redemption and salvation or for the final rest.
She put her feet in the freezing waters. Strange what urgent devotion can do to human beings. Millions take their holy dips here not minding the coldness, not minding the filth, often religiously contributing to it. But faith is ever triumphant. Nothing happens to the devotee, except when stampedes happens.The waters have got little to do with it.
The Sadhu's words echoed again. So it was here that her quest ends. It was here that it began. A lot of answers stood before her waiting for her to find out their questions. She thought of Kaveri. He had told her she was waiting. She fiercely believed him. After all Kaveri was her daughter. And she was all that Kaveri ever had. Her beloved father. She was Kaveri's Baba.