He had quick fingers and a quick mind. And against his dark skin, his white teeth shone like a row of beautiful pearls. When Govind smiled and held up a rose garland that he had strung, one didn’t know what to admire more, his teeth or the flowers. Given his background in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh, his free spirit, and his tender age—just eleven years—it somehow seemed appropriate that Govind had chosen to combat poverty by earning a livelihood from flowers instead of committing himself to drudgery in some household.

Marigolds, jasmine and red roses were the usual flowers in use at most places of worship. Govind liked them, but then they were as he said rozana ke, an everyday affair. What he really loved were the exotic lotus flowers, especially the pink variety. He would lovingly pick up each lotus bud, and one by one, carefully, gently pull at petal after petal till he had a full blown lotus in his hand. It was even more gratifying for him when he was allowed by his employer to take a couple of lotus flowers and place them before the multi-armed deities who were holding a lotus in their hands. His favourite of course, was Goddess Lakshmi standing on a lotus.

Govind was also fascinated by the fact that lotus flowers grew in water. There had been many flowers in his native jungle in Madhya Pradesh but there had been no pond or lake close by so he had never actually seen a lotus blooming in its natural habitat. Full of curiosity, he would ply the man who supplied lotus buds with questions. Didn’t the plants rot in the water? How could the plant put down roots in the water? The seeds must be flowing away in the water, so how could new lotus plants sprout?

One day, the man who supplied lotus buds told Govind that he was going to a nearby lake to harvest the lotus buds and suggested that he could come along.  After much persuasion, Govind’s employer agreed to give him the afternoon off. If it was a happy boy who hopped onto the pillion of the lotus supplier’s bicycle, it was a rapturous boy who waded into the lake and feasted his eyes on the lotus flowers. In no time at all, he had learnt how to neatly cut the stem with a knife. He had collected more than a dozen lotus buds when he screamed. Nobody knows what happened. Perhaps it was a snake. Perhaps it was a jagged rock. But Govind died in less than half an hour, his precious lotus flowers clutched in his hands.

Fearing legal complications, his employer quietly cremated him without the mandatory post mortem. Govind had been on his own, and nobody knew his native address in any case or the names, addresses or phone numbers of any relatives of friends. The boy who made garlands was soon forgotten. But Govind didn’t forget. Everyday, for more than a year, the priest noticed that a fresh lotus flower would be placed at Goddess Lakshmi’s feet, just the way Govind used to place it. Govind’s employer confirmed that he often missed lotus flowers. When a fresh lotus flower stopped being placed at Goddess Lakshmi’s feet, the priest missed the daily ritual but was happy as he interpreted it as an indication that Govind’s soul had found mukti.  

But Govind died very young and a majority of these reasons are unlikely to apply in his case. Besides, spirit re-appearances or interventions are limited in terms of time.

That was many years ago. And then suddenly, the priest was startled to discover just after the recent Navratra festival that a fresh lotus flower was being placed at Goddess Lakshmi’s feet every morning, just the way Govind used to place it. Perhaps the way of placing it was a coincidence, the priest reasoned, because a fresh lotus flower at Goddess Lakshmi’s feet had stopped its ghostly appearance so many years ago. Curious, the priest kept careful vigil every morning at the alcove housing Goddess Lakshmi and yet the lotus flower would be mysteriously placed at her feet.

Clues to the mystery began surfacing before long. Govind’s employer found lotus flowers missing once again and the flower boys in his employ all complained of a bhoot, a ghost, fiddling around with the flowers, re-doing the garlands they had made, changing the order of the flowers in a garland and a ghostly form trying to share their bed sheets at night. If it was indeed Govind what was it that had brought his soul back to earth after so many years? Souls who have attained mukti  or moved onto the other world because of certain circumstances have been known to return to earth for rectifying matters if something goes amiss in their family, or to warn or help a family member or friend, to be present on a happy occasion or their death anniversary, or to help right a wrong or to help a kindred spirit carry out a mission and other similar instances.

But Govind died very young and a majority of these reasons are unlikely to apply in his case. Besides, spirit re-appearances or interventions are limited in terms of time. The souls materialise, accomplish whatever they want and then return to the other world. In Govind’s case, the stay has already exceeded a fortnight. Like me, the priest is intrigued. But Govind’s former employer is a worried man. Two of his flower boys have already quit because of the ghostly presence and the remaining three are threatening to leave if something is not done to send the ghost packing. “If word gets around that my kiosk is haunted, nobody will want to work for me”, laments Govind’s former employer.

So far, various efforts at various levels to establish a communication line with Govind’s spirit have been futile primarily because even so long after his death, he is still a free, blithe spirit. Incidentally, it is ironically easier to start a dialogue with troubled dukhi atmas, largely because consciously or sub-consciously they want their travails to end and to move on astrally. For free spirits and spirits at peace astral movement is relatively smooth.  In Govind’s case, we’ve even tried using a room filled with the beautiful lotus flowers he loves so much to establish effective contact with him, but to no avail.  As a last resort, help has been sought from my spirit guides to unravel the mystery of Govind’s unusual return to earth and fingers crossed; we’re all waiting to see what transpires.      

 

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