Oh, My God!

I’m not a very religious person. I do believe in God. I pray, talk to God and look for signs when I’m in trouble to guide me, etc., but I don’t exactly have a routine. I feel my relationship with my maker is a personal one. And I don’t go to temples regularly.

But when I was a kid, I was taken around to lot of temples & was fed lot of stories where ‘God will blind you if you’re evil’ was always the moral. And I was encouraged to pray for things I wanted.

But as my rational thinking grew, I began to adopt the philosophy mentioned in the first paragraph.

Now, my seven year old son has a lot of questions about God. Since my husband is a thorough rationalist, its totally up to me to shape his mind in these matters.

Do I blindly follow my parents & teach him the ‘Saami kannai kutthidum’ philosophy or explain things a bit more rationally?

Thanks to Cartoon Network, he already has his basics covered on the different Gods & their Avataars. And thanks to school, he already knows there are a lot of religions in this world.

So I just answer his questions, as & when they arise, as best as I can.

1st of  September was Vinayaka Chathurthi. I love that festival only for the yummy kozhukkattais… 

Last year my husband wanted to give him a taste of his own childhood & took him shopping for a clay Ganesha, in a typical market place.

This year, he flatly refused to go along. “The streets are yucky! I will not walk in all that muck!” He begged off. My husband went alone and picked up a clay Ganesha sprayed with fine gold dust.

But  I wanted to make up for the lack of fun, so I woke up early, made the kozhukkattais and called my son for the puja.

Of course, it was just the two of us, since my husband was still snoring.

Both of us sat in front of the decked-up Ganesha, did the puja and I explained to him that Kozhukattais are Ganesha’s favourite sweet & all the fruits were for him.

Then I asked him to sing a small Ganesha song. He did that dutifully.

In a while, it was breakfast time. While he had a bowl full of his favourite cereal, I sat in front of him, with a bowl of kozhukkattais, waiting to dig in.

“No!” my son screamed suddenly. “You cannot have them! Its Ganesha’s!”

Peeved to be deprived of my favourite sweet, I held on tight to the bowl while he tried to pry it from my hand.

“He just blessed it, baby!” I explained patiently. “Now we can eat them.”

“No way! You said you made them especially for him!” He argued.”You cannot take it from him!”

“Thousands of homes make the kozhukkatais today.” I reasoned. “He cannot eat each and every one of them! So he blesses them and gives it back to us…”

But he’ll have none of it.

Since it was time for school, we wrapped up and left.

That evening he came running to me while I was pounding away at my comp. “Amma! Ganesha has eaten all the kozhukkatais in the plate!” He said joyfully. I noticed his bare upper body had a bit of gold dust.

“What happened?” I asked, pointing to the gold.

“I gave Ganesha a big hug!” he admitted sheepishly.

Next morning I needed a banana for my cereal. So I plucked  one  from the puja plate & proceeded to peel it.

“Don’t!” he screamed. “You’re stealing Ganesha’s share!”

“What?! I told you he only blesses the food we offer!”

“He ate the kozhukkatais yesterday, remember?” He asked me. “So, don’t touch!”

And of course by the time he got back from school that day, the fruits had to vanish too.

This is even worse than Santa story, I thought. He’s been insisting that we have a Christmas tree every year for three years now. Since it is all in good cheer, I gladly bought one and decorate it every year. But I’m so not prepared for his letter to Santa.

Last year it was the Beyblades and they were not in stock in the entire universe.

Frantic, I clutched at every lead I got and found some fake Beys from Parrys Corner. Of course he didn’t want them.

Thankfully it was not with the Santa loot.

And later I kept forgetting the Santa bit. When I spoke to him about a toy, I started slipping. “Remember the Spy Game I got you?” I would start. “NO!” He’d say vehemently. “Santa got me that!”

“Oops! I’m sorry!” I’d apologise.

Last week, he wanted me to take to the Toy Shop to get him something. I had no such intentions. “Pray to Ganesha & ask him if I should really take you.” I told him.

“Buy I don’t know how to talk to God!” he wailed.

“Then it’s high time you learnt. ” I told him sternly. “Just stand in front of God and close your eyes and ask him. If you’re silent enough you can hear his answer in your mind.”

So he obediently stood with folded hands, closed his eyes.

After five minutes he came to me. looking very upset. “I just cannot get any answer, Amma! You do it!”

So I stood in front of the puja, closed my eyes & folded my hands in reverence.

Two minutes later, I opened my eyes to see his eager face next to mine. “What did God say, Amma?”

“He is soooo angry with me!” I informed him. “He just told me ‘there are so many poor children in this world with no food and you want to get more and more toys for your son! Ask him not to be so greedy!’ ”

Crest-fallen, my son walked away. Soon it was time to go somewhere. We passed by the Toy shop and a small voice from the back seat spoke.

“I wish God didn’t exist. Then I can do what I want..”

Now I’m more confused than ever…

Advertisements

Ganesha – A short story

9900365

Anand stands before me. His palms joined together in reverence. His eyes closed. Lips moving in prayer.

“Please, please, please…” he murmurs. “Please God, let me do well in my Chemistry exam tomorrow,” he prays ardently.

 “Don’t you think it’ll help things if you go home now and spend sometime with your books? “ I ask him.

He does not hear me. His mind is full of voices.

 His father’s. His mother’s. His teachers’. His friends’. His own.

Admonitions. Fears. Warnings. Dreams. Aspirations.

The din drowns my voice completely.

After one last look at me he leaves hurriedly.

He has tickets for the latest movie in his pocket.

I should know. I am after all, omniscient.

Assured that I’ll cook up some miracle tomorrow to save his day, he leaves while his mind is already with his friends waiting for him at the cinema.

******** 

A coconut smashes on the street.

It’s Kamala.

Soon she is  standing in front of me.

Her lips are moving in fervent prayer. But her mind asks me, “God! Why isn’t he speaking to me? What have I done wrong this time? Why don’t you do something?”

After each fight with her husband, she comes here with many questions, to implore me to help her.

“Why don’t you ask your husband?” I ask gently. “Talking it over with him will give you more answers than all your prayers here.”

As before, my voice goes unheard in the clamour of the thoughts in her head.

But relieved that I’ll solve her problems, she leaves, more light hearted.

*******

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what I am here for.

To solve problems.

Agreed, I am the remover of obstacles and all that. But most of the time, all people have to do is to bend down, pick up the obstacle and throw it away.

But instead, they just stand there, mortified, close their eyes and try to wish their problems away.

*******

Here comes Preethi.

She’s a delight to me. She lives next door. Comes to see me everyday.

I wait eagerly for her visits.

She comes in. After exchanging pleasantries, starts telling me the highlights of her day.

Her childish logic never ceases to amaze me. She makes so much more sense than the adults.

Today, she’s upset with her mother.

“All I did was ask her if my snack was ready,” she says mournfully.

“For that, she yelled and said, I bother her all the time!”

“Don’t worry about that, sweet heart,” I assure her.

“Your mother was not really mad at you.”

“Really?” she asks.

“Yes.” I smile.

“Go home now, your mother’s waiting for you with cheese crackers!”

“Wow!” she says and skips out.

************

She almost knocks over an annoyed Kannan, who’s coming towards me.

Of late, he’s here everyday, praying for his son, who’s appearing for his school finals this year.

“Please God,” he prays, “Make Arun get high marks and manage an engineering seat.”

“You fool!” I admonish him. “Your son has no interest in engineering. You forced him to take math, a subject he hates. Have you seen his paintings? They’re brilliant. Why don’t you encourage him to take up a career in art?”

Stubbornly refusing to listen, he drones on his prayers to shut out my voice.

Fine. I’ll do my best.

These are problems of another kind. The ones some create for themselves. Oh, how they love to do that! Arun is a brilliant painter who happens to hate math. Then why force him to learn it and then come to me and ask for a miracle?

Anyway, like I said, I’ll do my best.

*********

A few days later, Preethi walks in. Do I see tears in her eyes?

“Child! What happened?” I ask.

“God! I have to leave you,” she wails. “My father’s transferred to Madurai.”

“Oh! Is that so?” I feign bewilderment. “Don’t worry, girl. You’ll find a new friend” I try to console her.

“But I’ll miss you,” she says.

She stays for a long time. I cheer her up with things she can look forward to.

New house. New school. New friends.

It works. Still sad, but visibly cheered, she says her goodbyes.

I promise never to forget her and help her in all her future troubles.

She leaves.

 

I chuckle to myself.

She doesn’t know.

In Madurai, I sit in a small shrine, right opposite her house. She can see me from her bedroom window.

 

I am omnipresent, remember?