Mishka had called Shiven many times but all her calls were never answered. She then called Tyaagi and informed him that Shiven has not yet returned home. Tyaagi went straight to the office and talked with the security.
“Sir left around 9 p.m.” The head of security in charge replied. Tyagi asked to open the office and went to Shiven’s chamber, his cell phone lay on the desk along with his wallet. His car was also parked in the parking lot. All this seemed quite bizarre. Shiven was very particular about everything and never left his belongings lying around.
Tyaagi’s heart started pounding. His mind relayed Shiven’s sudden disappearance to the threats that Shiven had been constantly receiving. He rushed to the police station and lodged a missing complaint about Shiven. He then went to Shiven’s house and informed them.
Everyone was tensed and an immediate search for Shiven began throughout the city. News spread like a forest fire and 21st-century media was not going to be left behind. The headlines of the next day’s newspaper screamed: “POWERFUL BUSINESSMAN WENT MISSING WITHOUT ANY TRACE.”
Everyone who knew Shiven prayed for his well-being. Months passed by but there was no news about Shiven’s whereabouts. Police could not trace anything. No ransom calls were made. Every possible lead led to a dead end.
All these while, Shiven’s mother stood strong and convinced Mishka to take care of business. After all, it was her son’s hard earned efforts.
Days turned into months and finally into a year. No traces of Shiven being alive or dead were found yet. Tyaagi and Mishka left no stone unturned to find Shiven but all their efforts seemed to be in vain. Mishka could not come over the loss but like her father, she too had a bone of steel. She never let her emotions affect the business empire of her father, the legacy that her father had passed onto her.
Tyaagi, on the other hand, stood rock solid with the family but was shattered from within. The loss of his best friend had rattled him to the core. Knowing that Mishka can handle the things far better than Shiven, Tyaagi took a break from his work and went in search of Shiven on his own. He didn’t inform anyone, the purpose of taking a break from his work.
Deep down in his heart, Tyaagi knew that Shiven was still alive. Tyaagi started his search state wise but all was in vain. It took two years for Tyaagi to return empty handed.
“You still miss Dad?” Mishka once asked Tyaagi, who was sitting in front of her in office.
“I searched for him all these while but…” Tyaagi spoke in despair.
“All I can say is, I will never let my Dad down, whether he is around or not. He is always within me.” A lopsided smile hung on her face.
“He must be very proud of you dear. The way you have managed everything, I am sure, if Shiven had been here with us, he would have been the happiest person.” Tyaagi’s eyes turned moist. Moments of silence persisted before Mishka spoke.
“You are my father too. We are family.” Mishka tapped Tyaagi’s hand, assuring him, just like Shiven.
“Ya, we are family. That’s what Shiven always said to me.”
“I too sometimes wish to have stamina like Dad.” Mishka spoke with a heavy sigh.
“I think you should take a break and go out somewhere. A kind of vacation, I mean” Tyaagi suggested.
“I too feel the same but I have a lot of work to do here. I can’t ignore it. ” Mishka replied sipping her coffee.
“Don’t worry about work. I am back here and I can take care of it and family too.” This time, Tyaagi assured Mishka.
“If it is so then I think I can take a break. Dad always wished to visit the Himalayan range with me. I think I should go there. At least, I have his dream with me.” Mishka smiled and finished her coffee.
“Yes, he told me once about it, I insist you fulfill his wish.” Tyaagi too finished his coffee and continued.
“Do one thing, from next week onwards, go for a vacation and I’ll handle everything here.” Tyaagi leaned forward.
“Great idea. I’ll wind up whatever is pending before this weekend and then will go where Dad always wanted to go with me.” Mishka leaned back with a sigh of relief.
The following week, Mishka was all set for the Himalayas. She had decided that she’ll go alone as her Dad had wished, only daughter and father. Hetal insisted to take someone with her but Mishka was adamant about going alone.
“Don’t force her. She is just like her father.” Granny said to Hetal. Mishka finally left alone biding goodbye to her family.
She took the flight to Delhi and from there through trains and buses she went to Mount Kailash. The moment she was around the Kailash she could feel the bliss of spirituality. The kind of bliss, Shiven had always talked about. She could feel the presence of Lord Shiva and parts of Shiva in earthly forms.
It was the most memorable trip for her. She preferred to stay alone without any guides. She relied on her geographical knowledge and the sailors’ compass. Across her trekking, she met a lot of spiritual people from different communities.
With every passing moment, she missed her father even more than before. Shiven had always talked about everything, Mishka saw now. The last place to visit on her list was Manimahesh Lake, one of the holiest lakes at the foothills of Manimahesh Kailash peak. It is considered as one of the most sacred lakes in the Indian Himalayan region. It is believed that the mighty peak is the abode of Lord Shiva.
It was pretty dark when Mishka was returning to her base. The weather had also turned harsh and she had lost her compass too. Being lost in a big white forest was quite a scary thought for her to fathom. Passing through the thick, dense trees, she understood that she was lost and there was no way she could find her way out before the sun peeped through the huge tree canopies and guided her to a safe haven.
Chills ran down her spine as the howls of wild animals kept increasing. She did not stop and kept walking till she saw a small hut with a light in it. A ray of hope lit up in her eyes and heart. However, it could be very dangerous as she did not know what she would find there.
Mishka took a deep breath hesitated a while but fear of survival against an animal was greater than facing a human being. She stealthily strode towards the hut. She could see a campfire lit in the compound. The hut was one of a kind. It was not built from bricks or anything artificial. The walls were made of thick mud and roof with the large dry leaves and branches of the tree. It was fenced by thorny bushes with a small entrance without any gate.
She kept on walking and prayers from her flew towards heavens like birds returning to their nests at dusk. In her heart of hearts, she doesn’t know what was lying ahead of her, just a few steps ahead. As she kept approaching, she could hear the chants of OM NAMAH SHIVAY. The sound kept growing louder as she kept on walking.
Mishka was hardly a few feet away from the entrance, she saw logs of wood burning in the compound and wild animals sitting around it peacefully. It was a breathtaking scene. A bear along with leopard, deer and various other animals sat peacefully around the fire.
She didn’t dare to step in with the site of a leopard who stared straight into her eyes. Moments later, a person covered in animal hide came out of the hut and began to serve food in earthen pots to every animal.
“You can come in. Nobody harms anyone here, it’s the home of SHIVA.” The person, like some saint, spoke without turning to look at Mishka and continued chanting OM NAMAH SHIVAY.
Her heart skipped a beat for a moment. She swallowed the lump and then her body started relaxing. Anxiety started leaving every nerve in her body as the sound of chants kept reaching her ears clearly. She slowly walked in and folded her hands in front of the saint. His hairs and beard were overgrown into dreadlocks. A divine glow was on his face that Mishka’s eyes could not meet the radiant glow in the eyes of the saint.
“Come inside mother. You must be a lost traveller and you look hungry too.” The person walked inside to get some food and water for her. He asked her to sit near the same leopard who was now peacefully eating his meal.
Mishka hesitatingly sat next to the leopard. She was damn hungry that she started gobbling whatever was in the earthen bowl. An earthen glass of milk was placed next to her. She tried to comprehend who this person was and how come such wild animals stayed peacefully with each other.
The voice of the person sounded quite familiar. Like a lightning strikes the wetland in monsoon, Mishka realized who the person was. It was Shiven, her father.
“Father…” The only words that could come out of her mouth. She was aghast. Her father was alive.
“I am no one’s father or son. I am the disciple of SHIVA.” He smiled. For the first time, Mishka could see Shiven.
“I know you have a lot of questions mother, but this is my reality. I am on a journey. A journey to reach SHIVA.” Shiven smiled with folded hands. Tears started rolling down her eyes.
That night, Mishka talked with Shiven about everything. Shiven only smiled.
“I have chosen my JOURNEY. You need to return back to your world. May SHIVA always bestow his blessing on you.”
Mishka was about to leave in the morning after Shiven guided her the way back to her base.
“May SHIVA stay with you, Shiven.” With moist eyes and smile on her face, Mishka returned back.
Written by: Hemang
Sketch: Paranj Sankdecha