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Friday, April 30, 2010

A short story: Journey to a Vortex

Dharini never stopped wondering at me.
“Seshu Bhaiya, how is it that you know so much?” Sesha Gopalan Venkatanarayanan was such a tedious name even for more matured and understanding. So I became Seshu for everyone from tiny tots to golden oldies. Dharini is my younger sister. We were separated by a gap of fifteen years. She was turning from five to six in a month or so and always had a question to ask me.
‘Why is this?’ ‘What is this?’ ‘How is this?’
Once, I tried to prove myself to her as a walking encyclopedia– thanks to Google, Wikipedia and a host of websites on internet that provided any information you wanted in an instant. ‘How can one color one’s hair?’ ‘How can one change diaper for a kid?’ or ‘Why madisar style of wearing saree is superior for ladies?’ You have answer, many times with pictures, photos and videos even. It is there for our asking on internet.
I loved Dharini, her un-quenchable thirst for information and unending questioning. What one day, she became another Nobel Laureate when my name would be mentioned prominently in her biography and her memoirs. “Madam, Can you tell who was your mentor?” an interviewer might ask her. “Oh, I owe everything to my dear Seshu Bhaiya.” She would respond. Good imagination.
We are basically South Indians. Our father was working for Central Government and so we were also Delhi-ites. That answered for ‘bhaiya’ and ‘acha’ that frequently appeared in our conversation.
This morning, I was surfing internet and I was looking at some stories of experiences of people who had visited vortex locations in Sedona in Arizona State in America. I did not notice Dharini quietly moving behind me except when she exclaimed loudly, “Oh, what a nice picture is that?” I was momentarily startled.
It was the picture of certain rock formations in Sedona that shaped like a bell and another like a cathedral. The caption “VORTEX” appeared boldly on the screen.

“What is that? V…… O……. R….. T…….E…….X” she asked.
“It is known as VORTEX” I explained.
“What is meant by Vortex?”
“The motion of the fluid swirling rapidly around a center is called a vortex. It is a spinning, often turbulent flow of liquid. A vortex is created from spiraling motion of air or liquid around a center of rotation.” I googled and showed her a picture of an air vortex.
“Acha! Does it mean that water is flowing underneath swirling?” she showed her fingers in a swirling fashion. She understood a lot.
“No, this is different ………… this is a vortex of energy …………. People over there believe that vortex in Sedona is created by spiritual energy.” I tried to keep the language simple to avoid more bombardment from Dharini.
She was looking puzzled unsure how she could pursue her questioning. To my relief, she asked abruptly,” Have we gone to that place?”
“You mean, Sedona…… Oh, yes! We went three years ago… Paappa took us to USA for some vacation…. You remember Sadhana aunty there!”
“No…. I don’t remember at all. Did I come with you when you had been to Vortex?”
“No…. You were too young and we left you in Sadhana aunty’s place.”
“It was very bad, you people left me at home …. Please tell me how your trip was.”
“It was very exhilarating and enjoyable.”
“Acha……….Tell me in all minute details about your trip. I am very eager to know.”
After parking our car in the parking are, Dad, Mom, Rajan Uncle, niece Malu and me went up a small stream along a small trail. The stream was small and beautiful. Sizzling sound from the water stream falling over several small rocks was music to our ears. The whole ambience was serene and quiet. There was a small water fall as the stream flowed.

At one place, the stream split up to form a small island. We found, a number of people had crossed the stream to reach the island. I couldn’t have gone to that island without completely drenching my clothes. Malu was very insistent, but Rajan uncle refused. Besides, we had to cover quite a good distance of walking if we really wanted to look at things up the stream and meet with vortex locations. Besides, we also didn’t know where exactly we could feel the effect of vortex.
Malu was very sad that she could not cross over to the island. As we just walked up a little ahead of others, there we found a large branch of a tree at the ground level crossing over the stream from our side. Malu and I climbed on the branch when uncle and dad were not noticing us. We slowly crossed over the stream and jumped on to the ground. When they noticed, we were already on the other side of the stream. There were tall dense trees and plenty of shade and across the stream it was much darker. Malu was a bit scared. She was only seven you remember. So, she held my hand tightly and we walked back on the other side of the stream slowly and …….
Eventually we reached that island. We were overjoyed and just ran on that flat rock that formed the island shouting and screaming. Dad and Rajan uncle started waving and shouting at us to come back.
Once we were at the edge of the island, we didn’t know how to get back to the other side. Malu started crying out of fear. I physically lifted her on my shoulders and got into waters even without knowing how deep the water was. Dad was shouting and cursing me from the other side. Partly apprehensive, partly scared and partly daring, I just plunged into walking across the stream that was getting deeper and deeper until it was almost to my chest.
I was really worried now. Malu was sitting on my shoulder screaming though I tried to convince her that we were safe. That is when I noticed a large block of rock underneath projecting out and I climbed over that. From there it was not difficult for me to cross the remaining part of the stream. But we were dangerously close to the small waterfalls. A small mistake I could have fallen into a pit. Another visitor standing over there cautioned us that the place was fairly deep.
Thank God, I was back on the main trail. I was completely wet. I was sure the small and elegant camera phone inside my pocket would have been completely damaged; I was carefully avoided talking about it. However, I was happy about the adventure and I felt like a hero in a movie. Our dad was heaping rebukes on me for some time and I tried to ignore.
We continued our hike. We came across a little open space where we found several miniature stone cairns (cairn is a pile of stones, usually conical in shape, raised as a landmark or a memorial) arranged on the ground. Uncle told me that it was symbolic of prayers by visitors.

Enthusiasm returned back to Malu and she started picking up stones for arranging one above the other. I asked Malu, ‘What did you pray for?’ ‘No, rather I was giving a thanks prayer to God that you were there to save me from drowning in water.’ I just touched her cheek saying she was a nice girl.
We were walking for more than an hour and we could not reach anywhere on the trek. Tiredness was slowly creeping in all of us. Dad was not sure how far we needed to go and was already enquiring whether we could get back.
That is when, uncle noticed a small rock on the sides and he sat down. He called over us to rest for a while before we decide proceeding ahead. I too sat on that small rock.

All of a sudden, I closed my eyes. I could feel the sweat flowing down my nose even while the mountain breeze was blowing across my face. I started feeling some kind of mysterious energy flowing though my body and I began to feel some strong vibrations in me. I could feel my nerves, hear my heart beating, notice some strange smell, see my breathing in and out, and I also felt that for a few moments I was blackening out. I felt dizzy and could feel some strange causeless happiness filling me inside.
Was this Vortex effect? I jerked and opened my eyes. I wasn’t sure.
“Uncle, did you feel anything?” I asked panting. They didn’t seem to. I explained. Then they tried by closing their eyes and observing their breath.
“Yes, we get some strange feelings,” said Mom.
“Wow, what a great experience you had?” exclaimed Dharini. She was keenly listening to me all along, her palm on her cheeks, and eyes glittering with amazement. “Can we go back any time now to Sedona?” she asked.
“Maybe, who knows? Or, one day, you will be old enough to fly down on your own to Sedona and you can feel the same experience.” I replied.
After some thought, I said, ‘But do you know something? Vortex is a place where one can feel the movement of earth’s energy. You need to be tuned in to feel that energy. You can feel similar energy in any other place too, I discovered.”
“Can you show me?”
“Sure yes, come with me.” I took her to the garden in our backyard. I noticed a small butterfly joyfully moving from place to place, one plant to another.

“Now, look at the butterfly closely. Follow the butterfly where all it flies around……….. Now close your eyes…………. Imagine that you are the butterfly, moving from place to place, batting your wings, sucking honey from every flower, resting on leaves, feeling the small dews resting on the plants and leaves, the flower petals gently caressing you when the wind blows gently, you feel so restful, calm, quiet, enjoying every moment of your existence…………………..”
After a few moments, Dharini opened her eyes, saying “What a wonderful feeling? Is there a vortex here in our garden?”
“Maybe! Mother Nature is strange and wonderful.”
She ran into the house shouting and wanting to share her little feelings with Mom.


  1. Simple story, wonderfully written! Both entertaining and informative. Appeals to the child in all of us. Looking forward to many more stories.

  2. I am happy to be receiving comments from my well-wisher friends and readers: Here is a commentary from R.R.Iyer:"A simple slice-of-life story, fairly well told without frills. Enjoyable. It must have taken a good deal of creative stamina to write a story. At your age it is an enviable gift. R K"
    It is really encouraging. Thanks.

  3. Wow!!
    Your country is beautiful
    Looks so peaceful ......
    Thanks for showing to us :-)
    And thank you very much for this short story (also informative!!)

    Greetings from The Netherlands
    Anya :-)

  4. chandana8:55 PM

    You have given a unique definition to vortex - touching story.

  5. The striking features of ur stories are they are very simply written and they will touch the sould of the child we all were..Thanks for writing such beautiful stories..