Living on a Prayer | Laxmi Hariharan
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Living on a Prayer

In the early weeks of the last month of 2013—when the cold had just begun to seep into the walls of the room, on the lower ground floor of the hundred-year-old Georgian building in London, where I now sleep most nights—I opened my eyes. A sense of something having shifted shimmered in the air. Blinking up at the ceiling, eyes unseeing in the morning light, I bid my muscles relax. First the feet, then my calves, the large ropey ones around my thighs, the shorter ones of my waist, my heart—that’s what had changed. It was now. A window had opened. The choice was mine though. All I had to do was step through. This time you will be supported. Would I?

A few days later, my mum Vibered me. For the first time in more than a decade, kith and kin, were getting together at the temple of the family deity. It had lain neglected except for short annual visits, when one of my cousins would attend to the needs of the God housed there. Situated in Ettayapuram: population size – 12800, it’s only claim to being a dot on the map was as the birthplace of the great Tamil Poet Muthuswami Dikshitar – one of the three pillars of Carnatic music who coincidentally shared the same month and day of birth as my husband.
A series of illnesses, dreams from beyond the funeral pyre, delayed marriages, women having children late or not having children at all, had led to the astrological question being asked: what was wrong?
The answer: appease the divinity at the core of the generational tree.
The last two priests, who had been appointed to perform the daily religious rites, had met their end under mysterious circumstances; since then, the Gods had been left to their own devices and had obviously become unhappy at the lack of attention from the family who had sworn to take care of their footprints on this Earth.
And, so in late December they came, assembling from all corners of the globe. Brothers buried disagreements which had kept them from speaking for a lifetime and daughters of the family who had changed their clan-lineage by marriage had been specially invited to attend, for it was they… us… me?—who had borne the brunt of celestial anger. The rituals continued over two days; my parents later told me. Ancestors were appeased, the foundation of a new temple lain, naysayers were silenced, and then in a divine nod of acquiescence, it rained.
Was it a coincidence that I was a central cog, in the turning of the divine wheels of destiny? Even as the first steps in addressing the faults in the group DNA were being taken, I had sensed the shift. The chromosomes in my cells accepted, even as my logical mind questioned. Yet, my gut told me, the time was here. If I wanted to nurture a seed, they were with me — this time. Just an overactive imagination perhaps? Was I really so connected with the natural flow of events or was it simply the arrival of the right vortex of opportunity? What now?

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