“I remember the day of my marriage vividly. I was 12 and was dressed in all my finery. I managed to sneak a peak of the groom's headgear, made of ink-painted paper. We were married as per Vedic rituals befitting the daughter of the chief priest of Jageshwar Temple. Fate, however, had other plans for me. My husband soon left me to go deep into the Himalayas in quest of spirituality.
I would often seek refuge in the comforting embrace of the Deodar jungles near my village Artola in Uttarakhand. The green cover soothed my senses and offered a solution too. At my father’s behest, I grew interested in Ayurveda. I went on a quest for the right herbs under the thick green cover of the forest. This quest soon engulfed me to the extent that I forgot my hurt and pain. Treating people and curing them gave me a sense of exhilaration.
I resolved to not be financially dependent on anyone, so I started growing cash crops and made some money soon. This gave me a sense of independence. I also had many cows in my goshala and mastered the art of bee-keeping. My journey of independence took a new turn, when I saved money for a chemistry lab construction in my village. My village had an Inter College without a chemistry lab. Since all families can't afford to send their children to Haldwani to study and government help was hard to get, I promised myself that I will get this mammoth task done.
Every time I cross the building, I feel happy to see my baby flourishing. People of this area fondly call me didi which delights me and I never feel the absence of a family.
I must have been 65 when people from my sasural came looking for me. They informed me that the man I was married to long ago was Maha Mandaleshwar (head saint) now. I refused to meet him. I told them that if he was the Maha Mandaleshwar, I was Maha Mandaleshwari. I don't have any memories of the man nor do I have any desire to renew ties.
I am glad that I discovered and realised a purpose in life which most of us are unable to. I have never had any room for self pity. See what I made of my life which otherwise would have been wasted. "