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INTO THE UNKNOWN
Almost a year flew by. Vaishnavas were returning to Russia after Gaura Purnima. Bhima decided to join them, and Sergey decided to see Bhima off to Delhi and in the meantime figure out his further travel plans for India.
Those not traveling were not allowed inside the international terminal. For Bhima not to be too lonely before the departure, Sergey resorted to his abilities. The friends passed through the airport entry checkpoint together. Oddly enough, the young man checking passports and boarding passes, smiling genially at Sergey, walked him into the terminal himself. He shook his hand firmly and said, “It's three hours until departure. Your friend has no reason to be alone.” Bhima would periodically giggle when a customs officer and a border control officer, smiling widely, personally took Sergey through checkpoints.
It's great to be next to a friend like Bhima, but solitude, sometimes, is snuggly, Sergey thought while wistfully watching the airplane getting off the ground. I think I'll spend a few days in Delhi, and then we'll see what comes next.
Having slept plenty and had breakfast, Sergey was roaming the city, thoughtlessly studying houses, display windows, people. His feelings were lazily perceiving the surrounding reality and enjoying peace and safety. He didn't want to think about anything nor do anything.
It's so nice to be a nobody! No anxiety about going to high school, university. No fear of getting married and raising children. Devote all the free time to Jagannatha. Not to fear for life: own life and the life of close ones. Jagannatha will protect anyway. And will do what's needed. What's best for you and your relatives. Stop, Sergey as if stumbled. It's good for those who know about Jagannatha. And who understand the kinds of benefits serving Him brings. But what about those who don't know about Jagannatha? Who don't serve the Lord? Pretty awful! Living without such a great reliance is not life, but fear. Constantly.
Sergey even jolted his shoulders as if he was chilly, and for a second imagined an everyman, simmering in his own feelings — envy, anger, fear, vulnerability, the uncertainty of the future — and feelings of other people.
Br-r-r! It's fantastic that I have Mahavira and Jagannatha!
In a shop of a nectarean name “Sweets from Sweet Krishna” Sergey bought some wild strawberry ice cream with nuts and sat at a table. The ice cream was melting in his mouth and bringing about inexpressible sensations. Though spring wasn't over yet, it was already over thirty degrees outside. Which triggered a passionate desire to walk around only in a loincloth, and even take that off to fan oneself. And regret that – alas! — there is nothing else to take off. And dump an ice water bucket on oneself every half hour.
Having finished the wild strawberry ice cream, Sergey pondered, pondered, and bought one more. Then another one. After he, head in clouds, finished the fifth one, a child's dirty hand reached towards him. A grimy street kid was begging for money with one hand and rubbing his belly with the other. Sergey, as if head still in the clouds, stared at the child for about a minute, then pointed to a sink and then to a chair next to him. Not having expected this, the child washed his hands and climbed the chair while cautiously glancing at the shop owner. Then Sergey noticed the boy's little sister who was waiting for her brother across the street. After she also sat down, Sergey asked the waiter to bring two thalis, two parathas, ice cream, cookies, and some tea. The portions were large, adult-size, but the children ate it all and asked for more.
"Aren't you going to explode?" Sergey smiled.
"Nope," the boy whispered blissfully while rubbing his tummy that had grown three-fold. "I won't have to go begging for two days."
Sergey asked the waiter to bring some more, then asked for packed parathas and sweets for the kids to take, then he paid and, followed by grateful glances, walked on.
"Where should I go next? Puri? Haridwar? I think Puri. Mahavira said if circumstances don't change, I should stay in Puri for at least a year. The year is not up yet. Tomorrow I'll buy the ticket to Puri, and in three days I'll be on the ocean shore. Sweeeet!"
The street became wide and abruptly ended with a square which was surrounded as if by guards, by 7- and 9-story apartment buildings. And a joyous pandemonium on the square. Loud music was playing. Sergey came closer and realized it was a movie set. Main characters were dancing by some monument. They were those famous Indian actors whose faces were always flashing on pages of almost all Indian magazines. And on almost every billboard. A large dance troupe was following the movements of the actors. More than a thousand curious bystanders were makeshift dancing.
The music stopped, and the dancers paused. Suddenly, a desperate scream of a child sounded from up above. Everyone looked up. Up on the ninth floor balcony, two children, clinging to the lattice, were screaming in terror. Thick smoke and flames were shooting from the window and the balcony door. Those present on the square at once realized it was impossible to save the children. In a silence that fell, crying of the children sounded even more awful. Sergey quickly examined the building. Two rows of balconies with sturdy weaved lattice three of four meters from each other. A second later, he's at the wall. The body habitually soared. Third-floor balcony, a light push — sixth-floor balcony. A push up and to the right, and his hands touched the warm lattice. Flames were licking flower pots and crawling to the children pinned to the corner.