There’s nothing but the river floating by beside me. I slowly roll up my pants and put my feet in the cool water, watching the sun slowly go down. There is a faint breeze now, and suddenly, the smell of freshly pasted sandalwood come from afar.
I look around for the source. Sure enough, a man nearby is mixing fresh sandalwood with a form of chalk, to create a concoction with which he would then mark himself all over his face. He is preparing for divinity… slowly I see him remove his shirt carefully and dress himself in saffron and red. His face remains calm through the procedure, he has done this thousands of times perhaps, and he slowly settles down on the side of the bank, his role as the hermit complete with the costume. A faint smell of ganja clings to him, low in intensity, yet distinct, through the sandalwood and sweat.
The evening starts to set in. As I watch, little lamps are lit and they are then slowly placed on the surface of the water. Some in remembrance, some in oblivion, they leave a little note of smoke and dampness and I find myself staring at the water for no reason.
My reverie is interrupted by a flower girl. She sits beside me, exhausted, after selling a few of the little bowls of flower. I smell roses faintly, and smile at her. She explains that each of them have a small candle, which can be lit before you cast them into the river. She continues talking, asking me about my home. I ask her about her school. She tells me that she studies in seventh standard in a local school. This is her afternoon job, because she feels useful. Her older sister prepares these baskets with fresh flowers, and she sells them for a reasonable price to whoever wants one.
After a while, she leaves, a faint smell of roses and jasmine incense in her wake. I smile, because the wind has picked up, and I know that it will rain, because the faint wet smell is now getting stronger, and the clouds in the horizon becoming darker. I get up, and make my way back from the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi.
Disclaimer: This post is written in response to the Indiblogger Contest Inspire a Fragrance sponsored by Godrej. Please check out http://www.godrejaer.com/ for more details. Hashtag #InspireAFragrance.