34.

When he descended down into that room, thumping  with the beat against a seemingly weak earth that could just about break with the next, I felt no fear – only curiosity.

He sat there in his tribal paraphernalia, red skirt with colorful spheres arranged concentrically around his waist. His body vibrates, perhaps with the sheer energy that is required to host something so powerful, so ancient, so tribal.

As I waited in a line that seemed to gravitate into a spiral towards him, I tried to take in as much about him as possible. Sweat drenched his dhoti as he shook, the chain of bells around him resonated with him, mimicking the sound of the forest at night. He spoke to everyone with a voice that rang clear among all the fevered murmurings of his devotees. His sustenance was the bark of a tree and the white liquid of used plastic bottles. Toddy and paan? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I did not dare ask.

He cleaned himself after every promise made, he cleaned himself after every deal was struck, he cleaned himself after every advice given. His brahman side-kick would translate the language he spoke – familiar but old. He shouted, he questioned, he chastised, was abrupt, was not as benevolent as most gods are hoped to be.

But he was revered, as a child of the gods should be.