The last time I visited the shrine was seven years ago. My husband and I had been trying to conceive, but for all our efforts we had no good news to share. My in-laws proposed a pilgrimage to Shirdi, hoping to turn our biological fortunes around. I concealed my skepticism, and joined them in the plan.
We hired a car and waddled for five hours through potholed, rickety roads. We made no prior bookings, convinced that it wasn’t necessary, and simply scouted hotels that offered rooms on the spot. The establishment we settled upon sported rat-eaten curtains and matching tattered bed-sheets. Service was non-existent and food unparalleled in its sogginess, facts that I noted down on the feedback card they supplied when we were checking out. At the temple, we joined the queue and waited for three hours until our turn arrived. Once inside, we were shuffled into a holding area where more waiting ensued. Finally, I was swept up into the crowd and shoved towards the idol, my palms folded and my face hot with tears at being treated like cattle.
Shortly after the visit, the second line that had been evading me appeared on the home pregnancy test.