They say, a chance meeting that turns into life long relation is the best thing that can happen to anyone. It certainly is true for us.. Picture this..
A middle aged couples in their late 50s and two energetic girls in their early teens. Climbing many steep stairs to reach the highest summit. Venue, Trambakeshwar. And destination, the point where Godavari starts in a small trickle..
There is nothing magical about it. However, if they happen to meet a sadhu midway.. when they are just about ready to give up.. and if the sadhu offers them water from the pond which makes them rejenuvated in 2 minutes flat.. And while they return, the Sadhu is no where to be found.. Would you call it miracle? No. For simply its too fanciful. Not with those girls. They believed its magic . After all, if for the first time the parents decided to go somewhere other than “visiting relatives” in like ‘since birth’ it certainly is miracle. But this has got nothing to do with Mr Kannav. No, the sadhu wasn’t him.
And then, if the over eager daughters start running down the stairs, over exuberence indeed. But you won’t blame them for this. It is their age that is infectious. And then if one of them fall down ? Oh yeah, one of them slipped. A over eager devotee was cleaning all the stairs and the wet stone was slipperry. So this girl gets a merry go round down the stairs. The devotee was smart and hence had padded the rest of the steps with grass to avoid the very same eventuatlity. This cushioned her fall. And also, led us to one of the important character. No not Kannavji. Not yet.
He was an young man who had undertaken the pilgrimage like we did. He helped her up. No its not a story of romance for she was in her early teens and he in his late 20s early 30s. Surprisingly, this guy is Tamil too. amazing coincidence that gets the father talking to the stranger after the usual thank yous.
On the way, a monkey decides to act smart and steals the mother’s purse. looking for food. And it held everything but that. Money, Keys, Tickets, Trinkets… Everything worthless for the monkey. Ah the aforementioned hero does one more rescue act and gets the purse back.
Even then, this stranger is not remembered for these acts. He is remembered fondly, for he introduced us to Nanaji Kannav 🙂
For this stranger lived with him. Temporarily. Kannavji was a priest who performed the last rites. To pay his bills, he also offered lodging and food. Food personally cooked by him. Made of Asli ghee that was procured by ladling fresh curd, acquired from their cow. Simple fare. Dal, rice, curd and Chappatis. Hot ones. He made it while you ate. So over the lunch a bond was formed. Strong ones.
We kept writing letters all along for years together, until he died. We didnt go back again. And yet, in this world of emails, we still receieved quaint postcards written in marathi. And my dad wrote in English.
Despite language constraints and the fact that we were practically strangers, the bond forged grew in strength. He became a NANAJI for us in true sense.
Its been like 8 years now, since he died. I donno why I am writing about him.. Just that I felt like it 🙂