Haasar and The Hatman
#5 Anbe Sivam (Love is God)
My earliest memory of a temple is walking on sand to reach a soothingly dim light. The light that accentuated the bronzish idol of a god sitting awkwardly. I remember my parents asking me to fold my hands together, close my eyes and ask God whatever I wanted.
I don’t remember what I asked. I don’t know if God heard my prayers.
As years progressed, the relationship with my idea of God has been a roller-coaster of sorts.
I wanted to join cricket coaching. I pleaded with my parents. I stood in the line every year to get the cricket coaching application form. I stood in line every year to put in a word to God to ensure this was the year my parents finally relented.
This went for six years. It never happened.
During that same phase, I wanted to clear a particular talent examination (Australian Talent Test or some shizz). I didn’t want to give that exam, but most of my class seemed to be giving it. It was a bit of an expensive affair and every time I failed to clear that exam, I couldn’t bear to see my family looking distraught. I asked God to make me cross that cut-off threshold once.
This went for five years or so. It never happened.
When I was in primary school, I read Harry Potter. Nope, I didn’t want a Hogwarts Admission Letter. I wanted a pet. I wanted a Hedwig or a Crookshanks or a Padfoot or a Trevor or even a Scabbers(probably not Scabbers). I prayed to all the Gods who had animals as vehicles and tried to reason out with them that it was unfair for them to have one when I had none.
This went for quite a few years. It never happened and I also had to listen to that patented dialogue year after year, “Feeding and taking care of you itself is a big deal. Why does this house need one more thing similar to you?”
I still didn’t mistrust God.
How could I? Why would I?
I did get my Audio cassettes whenever I wanted them. I still got my Casatta ice cream whenever I wanted one. I still got my movie tickets whenever I wanted to watch one. I used to get my monthly share of biriyani without fail. I never got caught “borrowing” money for pani puri. I never lost to my father in cricket. I never lost to my mother in ‘Words Building’ and I’m pretty sure I have a better winning record with my sister in Carrom.(She might disagree)
The adolescent me attributed all of this to God.
The grown up me knows better.
No, I am not an atheist. My love for a particular actor doesn’t make me one.
Our relationship now is like the one I share with my father.
We have our differences. We have our own sets of beliefs. We agree on many things while agreeing to disagree on many others. My love for him doesn’t cloud my principles. My respect for him doesn’t change my sensibilities. My concern for him doesn’t mask my fears. My friendship with him doesn’t overshadow my thoughts.
God’s track record in granting things I ask and approving things that I pray for is extremely abysmal.
There was a time when I used to visit the temple daily because someone said that it would help my chances in clearing my school examinations. I flunked every physics exam that year except during the board examinations.
But, I fell in love that year. So a brownie point for God.
However, it didn’t last long. The reason being our contrasting natures of worshipping God and certain rules and rituals surrounding it.
To quote a friend’s rating system (FRS), this not only negated the brownie point but pushed the tally back by a solid -1732 points.
Even with a decent percentage in boards, I couldn’t do the course I wanted to do.
I still didn’t mistrust God.
How could I? Why would I?
I did get through Marine Engineering. My scores seemed to be a reflection of my proficiency in the same. I made a beautiful set of friends who were pillars of support when I needed it the most. Especially when for the first time, I was away from the comfort of a home. I got exposed to different languages and culture. I finally conversed in my mother tongue. I spoke in Hindi. (because I wanted to) I got placed with one of the topmost companies in the world. I sailed around. I saw the world. I rediscovered myself. I fell in love again. I was forced to fall out of it again. I discovered myself. Again.
Inspite of this, my life seemed to be on a perennial upswing.
Invariably, the law of averages caught up.
The grown up me started to attribute the good and bad things to people and circumstances. I made peace with the fact that it was a design by God who felt bored one day and decided to while away the time by screwing with my peace and happiness.
This tumultuous period continued for a few years, where I questioned the existence of God.
I was a constant failure. I couldn’t enjoy the briefest moments of happiness that came in spurts. It either whizzed away too fast or I let it pass because of the knowledge of something grave waiting for me right around the corner.
I started looking around for signs that will let me hold on to the belief that God will take care of everything. I became that person who would look at the cloud and try to make a shape out of it and feel special about my ability of perception.
I conjured up imageries out of the faintest indicators and started attributing everything to be an act of God.
I was tongue-tied in a viva voce with my examiner. I blamed God for making that examiner ask the toughest of questions only to me. I couldn’t hold a conversation with a girl without talking about my breakups. I blamed God for making me vulnerable after her exit. My parents started to get livid with my fruitless existence and siphoning off their retirement funds. I blamed God for not making me clear my exams in time and raise my family’s living standards and ensure I silence all those questioning me.
I started to hold God responsible for everything. Somewhere, I started believing in God’s non-existence.
Sometime during this phase, I started believing in God’s non-existence.
No, I am not an atheist. I just didn’t believe God was there for me during those times.
I had decided that God hated me. I grew up hearing that God takes in those who are dear to him faster than the others. Somehow, in spite of repeated attempts, God just didn’t want to take me. I wasn’t dear to God.
I grew up hearing that God took in all those who are dear to him faster than the others. Somehow, in spite of repeated attempts to reach that heavenly abode, God just didn’t want to take me. I wasn’t dear enough to God.
Well, if God didn’t want me, I didn’t want God either.
I still didn’t mistrust God.
How could I? Why would I?
I got through a tough time and started to pursue something that could be termed as a passion or a calling or a hobby or a waste of time. It depends on which side of my family and friends spectrum one is looking through.
I found poetry. I found music. I found passionate people. I found the humanity in the times of adversity. I found goodness in people. I found there is evil lurking in all of us. I found wolves in sheep’s clothing and found lions in deer’s clothing. I found helpful people. I found selfless people. I found people of all shapes, sizes, colour and character.
I found myself to be a commercial cinema shot in Eastman colour.
But this time, I attributed the good and bad things I encountered, to the people who did it. I stopped believing that it was God that made certain people talk ill about me behind my back. I stopped believing that it was God that made certain people go out of their way to put a smile on my face. I stopped believing that it was God that made me moderately successful in my endeavours. I stopped believing that it was God that influenced me to make certain decisions(good, bad and ugly). I stopped believing that it was God’s will that I believed in certain people and mistrusted a few others. I stopped believing that it was God’s will that made me stay away from certain people and stay close to certain others even if it backfired miserably at times.
Basically, I stopped believing that it was God that made someone a good human being and a bad human being.
I couldn’t attribute to God, the gesture of a few friends who stuck with me even while everything around me seemed to be haphazard and disoriented.
I couldn’t attribute to God, the attempts of a few friends who wanted to mend the broken bridges between me and my family. They wanted my family to see what I was trying to do against all odds.
I couldn’t attribute to God, the realisations that dawned about the true colours of certain people and what I am perceived to be in their eyes.
I couldn’t attribute to God, the goodwill of the many hearts that for the minutest moment, beat for my success and well-being.
I attribute all of these to the people around me. It is their nature, the way they have been raised, the way they have been moulded by the self or experience, their walks through the fire, the insults they faced, the bouquets and brickbats they received and many a time, just because they are decent human beings.
I wouldn’t let God get the credit. I couldn’t just say God made them do it. I couldn’t let some people get away with transferring the blame.
No, I am not an atheist.
I visit temples regularly, though I hardly clasp my palms together during my rendezvous with God. I say a hi, give a nod or a salute depending on my mood that day. God is now a friend and a guide. As I said earlier, something like the relationship with my father.
God might be seeing everything. God might be delivering instant justice in the name of karma. God might be the reason why the same beach makes me happy and sad at different times. God might be the reason why I’m able to write certain things in a certain way in a certain time.
I don’t know. I am not going to try to understand it either.
I will continue to believe in the goodness in people and the inherent evilness in all of us.
I will continue to believe that it is the presence of humanity or its lack thereof that makes people do certain things.
Many continue to attribute everything as an act of God. Many conveniently thrust the responsibility and say it is all God’s doing and everything happens because God wants it to happen that way. (I won’t even get into the debate of terrorism, child deaths and innocents dying in accidents, attacks, diseases etc…)
I will continue to vehemently disagree. I will continue to fight the good fight and rest the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of us humans. I will shout out to the world that God doesn’t dictate terms. I will continue to remain a family and a social outcast because of my beliefs and my inherent need to stick by it.
I will continue to believe in humanity and not let God walk away with all the laurels that people strive hard to achieve.
Probably… This is also an act of God.