Well, I had to write a travel story in 2000 characters. I chose the topic “Seeing the World Through Other Eyes” and really gave it a great deal of thought and effort. I was disappointed to have not made it to the shortlist, but there were only 19 entries selected from a total of 1718 entries of which the scholarship was awarded only to a single winner.
Still – there were some fabulous entries I could and learn from and hope to improve my writing day after day.
THE KING OF HEARTS:
Incense sticks are lit; then he vigorously washes his hands and wears a skull cap.
“Here desires come true” he affirms entering the dargah – the tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin, a revered Sufi saint of Delhi. Today Sajid is my guide; a young migrant who earns about USD 300 a month, working sixteen hours a day to feed a family of six, including a widowed mother.
Two little girls cling onto the intricately carved honeycomb grill and kneel before the tomb. Women in headscarves carry Styrofoam plates of red rose petals, myrrh, vials of scent, a green cloth and sweets. Above, a canopy of Neem and Peepul trees, their roots and branches intermingled. Red sandstone, white marble, inscriptions in Arabic, green and gold figurines – the tombs are resplendent against the setting sun. People stream in and out, some chanting, others placing their offerings. Many splash water onto their faces, keen to wash away the weariness and grime of the city.
Sajid emerges from the mausoleum radiant. “Pray here; if answered, you must come back again,” he decrees. “Nizamuddin was the greatest King of Delhi” he adds, as I watch him give hundred rupees to an old tramp in the corner! I want to reply “But he was a poor saint, not a king.”
Humbled by Sajid’s benevolence, I pray for his happiness and listen like a tourist in my own city. The crowd amasses as the hour for evening namaaz nears. Every four feet, a mendicant occupies the marble. In the chaos, I stumble over a begging bowl of an old lady.
Kneeling before her I realise I am a Hindu girl but here in a Muslim shrine that is thronged by millions every year. Not thousands, millions! In a parallel history, the saint reigned the hearts and minds of immigrants coming into the capital irrespective of caste, creed or faith, transcending the test of time. Doesn’t that make a true king? Sajid too is ‘rich’ not poor. I put all my offerings into her hands. As I stand, he beams. I realise my prayer is answered. It is time to come back again.
The entry may also be viewed here :http://journals.worldnomads.com/thegypsydiaries/story/85703/Worldwide/My-Scholarship-entry-Seeing-the-world-through-other-eyes
Main webpage for Worldnomads at – http://www.worldnomads.com/index.aspx