Crystals of courage

Crystals of courage

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At a corner near my house stood an old, green and white mosque, with open corridors and a coconut tree. The mosque became more prominent after renovation. It now has pillars visible from a kilometre away, and a separate entrance for women. The old mosque had one entry point and didn’t allow children. Or so they told me.

I didn’t understand why Papa could attend the prayers, and I, a 5-year-old, couldn’t do so by crossing the road. My cousin disagreed with the bias too. As fans of Indiana Jones, we played games where we crossed the sea (bedsheet), sailed through pillows, tied our ship (bed) using a skipping rope and then climbed windows to pick up a crystal. We had to hit the buzzer because then the crystal appeared. An idea we stole from a popular game show in the 1990s ‘Crystal Maze.’  

With our background of adventuring, we ventured to break barriers, with a tricky plan —no map and no clue about ‘planning!’ To add to it, we had to cross a small street with no permission.

For the next few days, we were hawks —observing our parents’ sleep patterns, adult-free time, and the routes. 

That was when we had our eureka moment, we realised that my front door neighbour had two entrances. One opened towards us and the other towards the mosque.

So, the plan unravelled and we hoped for beginner’s luck. At the neighbours, we sniffed around at the house, looked through old vinyl-records and without aunty realising we sneaked through the other exit as we pretended to yawn and go home. Then, we jumped across the lane and reached the mosque.

Fear is unknown to explorers. But we stood at the entrance, awestruck but panicking. Ammi often uttered that disobedience leads to one burning in hell. So would mean if we entered the mosque, we would dissolve into thin air like the end of Avengers Infinity War when half the universe disappeared. 

But we didn’t know our way back. See, little girls are smart to assume that the first try may not work. So we plunged with closed eyes and sweaty eyelashes. There was no thunderstorm. Yet, nobody offered a medal. But the mosque was a green oasis — plants on the railing and a small fish pond at the centre. But before we took our first few steps, Ammi stood at the doorway.

Wait? How did she know? Wasn’t our half-plan, foolproof? A million thoughts churned in our minds as she caught us purple-handed.

We dumped the fruit, which she later clarified was ‘jamoon’, I inferred the Indian mittai jamoon found itself pinned on plants as a punishment, which would also be my state in a few minutes. Wasting no time, my mother took me home and I was grilled— the enemy camp did not appreciate the adventure.  But little girls had picked up their invisible crystals of courage from the mosque. 

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