It has been eight months into marriage and Kartik and Naina were bit apprehensive on going on a trip to Hampi. Like many couples in India, theirs was an arranged marriage. They had dated other people before getting married to each other, but both of their love stories did not convert to what they had hoped for. The last few months were not very good for them. They have been waiting for some time for the silence to drown. They yearned for a dialogue; they longed for a touch.
It was Naina’s idea to visit Hampi. History had always intrigued her. Kartik, however, was more docile when it came to conjugal challenges such as planning a trip. He was simply happy to get out of the house. They entered Hampi at noontime. They could see the ruins of the empty city much like the remnants left in their house now. The house which they had decorated with so much enthusiasm on their first month seemed more like a minefield today.
Both of them freshened up without a word. Naina saw her own reflection behind Kartik’s reflection. She wore a strappy Kurti with a sleeveless jacket on top.
They both got out and sat in a local dhaba for lunch. “What do you want?” asked Kartik. Naina had an urge to answer – Whatever, but she resisted. She looked at the array of choices she had and responded “Idli, I think.” Kartik ordered two plates of Idli. Naina looked at her husband. He looked a bit unhappy with his Idli. It then dawned to her that he does not like Idli. Three months before the wedding, they talked every day for two hours. Naina scowled and ordered a Puri and she could see her husband looking at her meekly. He said nothing.
“Why don’t you say anything?” asked Naina irritated.
“Nothing. Never mind.”
Once the Puri was served, Naina transferred them to his plate. He looked at her and muttered “Thanks.”
They decided to hire an auto rickshaw and visit the Vitthala temple. They sat quietly in the Rickshaw.
“Look look!” Naina jumped. “What is that?”
They passed a huge structure which looked like a temple.
“I think it’s some ancient temple or community hall. We will check it out tomorrow”, answered Kartik.
“It’s so beautiful!”
“I asked our homestay owner, he said we can check out couple of temples on bicycles. You want to go for riding tomorrow?”
“Yeah.” said Naina impressed.
They finally arrived at Vithalla Temple. The temple was named after lord Vishnu. They took the tickets from the counter and started walking. They booked a guide who was explaining the purpose of the temple. The huge magnificent temple was made of granite rocks.
“I haven’t seen anything like this!” said Naina.
Kartik knew that his wife is well-travelled. She would have seen magnificent elaborate temples. He also knew she had two loves before him. She had experienced things which he was still waiting to experience.
“No, I have not. This is the first one.”
The guide showed them the famous pillars though which one could play music. The granite musical pillars were destroyed, but there were few which was still intact. The notes of music could be played because of the design of the temple- the distance, length and breadth of the pillars was responsible for the reverberations.
“Sir and Madam, why don’t you put your ears in this pillar and I will play something for you”
Kartik and Naina pressed their ear on the pillar. The guide thumped the pillar like tabla. Naina could hear her husband breathing slowly which she felt matched with the notes the guide was playing.
The sun was about to set. The guide had finished explaining the temple.
“Can you imagine this whole temple was like musical instrument?” asked Naina.
They sky had tuned crimson. They both sat on a daïs and looked around.
“I will take you to Konark. You will like Konark temple in Odisha.”
“Yes. After we visit Europe. I know you have been there,” answered Kartik.
“Yeah but I have seen the place alone. I would like to see it with someone.”
Kartik smiled. She placed her head on his shoulder. The sun was setting behind the small hillock gently. They were silent again but this time they were not waiting.