In all my limited wisdom, I claim to be secular, and that is not by the connotation that we Indians have conjured for our political furtherance, but in the actual unalloyed lexical sense as known in the Occident.
I concede that, during embattled times, as the unveiling day of the frighteningly ugly exam results drew dreadfully close, or when the troublesome coiffure played recalcitrant while that comely lass waited in the offing, I’ve performed my share of the prayer-for-reward routine, imploring in laughable desperation the deus ex machina to abseil by a long rope from heaven and carry me to the safety of an oil-free shore, but this was back in the days when masons didn’t have mobile phones and in the last appraisal, Old Hag slotted me somewhere between an irreverent nincompoop and a decadent aspirant-spiritual.
Yet, when the insignia-capped officer signs his blessings on a bonnet-backed sheet, a guide waving a warm greeting takes his pride of place, a khaki-clad man pushes open the big iron gates and in we go to the temple on the path of bliss, I thank God for the privilege, and I mean I mentally remit my token of gratitude with considerable profundity. And when once every often I find an idol of the resident deity allowing her view in the sanctum, Her form in repose now a splendid image of dazzling vivacity, decorated to a nicety by the greens of the garden, shaded by the kindly leaves of a tree, pampered by a zephyr and comforted in Her seat by a cool stone, and a calmly resplendent glow radiating from the combined sight, my heart wells, devotion usurps control, my back arches on its own accord to bow, and of all conceivable resting positions, genuflection strikes overwhelmingly as the perfect one to take.
An archive of my field observations also indicates that my mind becomes one, the attention refuses to waver, time-zones cease to exist, ambient noise if any fails to register and the geography merges into itself. This astonishing record of queer happenings is extraordinary enough, but equally, it is not too much to say that in an instant I become a song in Her honour, a poem in Her praise. In what scientists must pedantically term a ‘contortionist metaphysical anomaly’, I cease to exist in my factory spec and instead lie simply as a flower at Her toes. In Her meditation, I become merely a whiff of scent, an atom in the autumnal wind, or like the tingle on an excited fingertip.
None of which I was ex-showroom. This, then, is serious, for in sum, I become what’s-it-called – religious! Gasp!
Pressed by this singular incongruity in my inner nature, therefore, I sought to solicit counsel on the matter at once, when upon my return from the pilgrimage, I hopped on to my bike, roughed out the roads, knocked on Old Hag’s door and lay the question bare.
“Old Hag,” I said, “elucidate.”
“Why, this is but natural,” said she.
“To worship what you love
Is your religion – know, you cove.
And to love sans trying hard
Is, unto you, quite the best reward.”
|My ‘idol’ of worship|