The Temple Dancer of Lothal

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a chapter from a short novel I am writing. It's a mystery/romance set 4000 years ago.

Submitted: January 13, 2014

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Submitted: January 13, 2014

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1902 BCE, Lothal, North Western India

Sitting on the marble plinth of the great temple, Uma bent to tie her payal to her feet, and straightened up. She then adjusted her sari’s pallu to cover her ample bosom and proceeded to push the loose end of her pallu around the back of her waist. Unaware that there were 2 pairs of eyes watching her, she turned to face the deity, a female form resplendent in her silk sari and jewelry. Uttering a prayer and kneeling on her feet, Uma then rose to begin her performance.

Having recently been inducted as the temple dancer, she was now one of the 3 dancers who graced the temple’s dance hall every week. Being the youngest and most beautiful of the dancers, her performances were always popular and some townspeople even came up to her after the dance to seek her blessings, being that she so resembled the goddess Uma, the deity she was named after, both in beauty and tenacity.

Townspeople started filling into the temple and sat around to watch her graceful dance begin. After the performance ended, Uma bowed to the diety and to the crowd assembled, before walking towards the turbaned priest, his eyes gazing at her bosom and waist as she stood in front of him with reverence and bent to touch his feet. He gave her his blessings, but used the opportunity to touch her bare arms and asked her to rise. Uma walked out of the temple and collected her slippers and satchel before leaving. As she walked past the temple and the civic building, she had a feeling that someone was watching her. She turned to look but didn’t find anyone there. It was strange, but she had felt this several evenings this past month. Shrugging it off, she walked towards her home and found her mother preparing the evening meal, while her father was repairing his fishing rod. Hugging her mother, she went up to her room and changed into a simple white sari and helped her mother finish cooking.

Her father, Nari coughed and said, “Uma, you know we let you do whatever you wish. But, now that you are in the public eye, you must be careful. I over-heard the temple workers talking the other day about how the priest seems to have feelings for you. You know as well as I, that the man is the most powerful in the town. If he decides he wants you, there is nothing I can do to stop him. I suggest that we find you a decent man and get you married. That way, the priest’s hands are tied. Promise me, you’ll think about it.”

“I’ll think about it, but you are wrong about the priest. He is not like that. He just likes me because of my dancing and there’s nothing more to it than that.” said Uma.

“He had designs on your mother when she was un-married too, I remember how he followed her around and if I hadn’t been quick to ask her to marry me, she would be his mistress” said Nari, visibly shaken at that prospect.

Uma gasped at this speech and looked at her mother for confirmation. Her mother nodded and looked at her father with a smile. “It’s true that your hunk of a father married me more out of fear than love.” Uma looked at her parents who were still in love and wished she could find a man whom she could love all her life.

They ate dinner with their usual joviality and played a game of chess before retiring for the night. She stood at her window and stared at the stars until they became little hazy dots in a clear ink blue sky. The feeling of being watched returned and she instinctively moved away from the window.

Turning off the small lamp, she got on her bed pallet and drifted off to sleep. The shadow of the tall man watching crept closer and slipped into her room from a space near the roof of the 2 story thatched hut.

He tiptoed into the room and watched her quietly as she breathed in and out, her face reflected in the moon light streaming from the window and her lithe body barely covered by the sheets. Still asleep, she slowly turned and slept on her side, giving him an even more tantalising view of her flat abdomen and curve of her waist. The man moved back into the shadows and sighed. One of these days, he swore, he would talk to her and tell her his true feelings. But for now, he would satisfy himself with just watching and not touching her. Then, quiet as he came, the admirer left her room.


 


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