Mansukh stood at the base of the mountain.
It was now or never.
The brown feet in his brown sandals hesitated. His shapely toes dug into the soft leather. This was hardly recommended footwear for a self-proclaimed ascetic.
Men who renounced the world, discarded all its comforts and pleasures. But Mansukh’s flat footedness rendered him an exception to the rule.
He cradled in his arms a round bundle. A few odd necessities for the arduous journey. Climbing a mountain was new to him. So he could be excused a few items of convenience.
The first step was the most difficult. But the second slightly easier.
Mansukh had only taken twenty steps when he felt a slight rumble.
It was his sensitive stomach. His gut had always been a nuisance.
But health was wealth, and a mountain couldn’t be climbed on an empty stomach.
The knot was tighter than usual, but Mansukh’s fingers pried through, and out spilled the delicious smell of his mother’s cooking.
Stuffed flat bread and pickle. He wished he had some curd too.
But a hermit didn’t complain. It opposed his basic nature.
Five minutes was all it took. Mansukh licked his fingers clean and wiped away the oily residue with some tissue.
This material sin could be forgiven.
Up on his feet, Mansukh felt more prepared for the steep ascent.
One, two, three…
He counted his nimble steps. And at thirty-five, he was panting.
A hearty meal always made him tired and drowsy.
The mountain could wait. He deserved some rest.
With the bundle as his pillow, Mansukh slept for hours.
Only to be awakened by a woman’s loud shouts.
‘Mansukh! Son! It’s time for dinner!’
The fifteen-year-old boy rubbed his eyes and hurried back, retracing his measured steps.
His yogic pursuits could wait until tomorrow.
A Master At Reverse Psychology – She knew how to get a reaction out of him. Making him believe he was in control.