Name: Suchitra Manpuri
Mail ID: email@example.com
The constant pitter-patter of the downpour has made the streets a vivid mess; it isn’t a pleasant sight at all. I feel that whenever it rains there is way more gloominess around than the usual melancholy, ten years back I was twelve and an incident happened that shaped my whole life. It was on a day exactly like this.
It was a boisterous market environment while I was walking beside my father, not sure whether to hold his hand or not. Even though I wanted and willing, something was holding me back. Don’t know what was the weird feeling but I thought it better not to, turning to another lane I saw my father crouch and examine a piece of paper. On close examination I noticed that it was the cover of fragrance sticks, in a few moments I got what exactly my father was looking at, there were pictures of three Gods on it. In a spur of moment he got up and tore away the paper into two halves, one piece having two Gods on it and on the other one there was one lonely God.
“He doesn’t belong to us, just some fake interpretation of God” I heard my father explain. I wanted to ask the fairness of the statement, I wanted to show him this is not how humans are supposed to behave, and I wanted to eradicated such myths. But deep down I also knew that “know-all” parents could never tolerate any kind of opinions from their kids, my father turned away folding the paper(with two Gods) and inserting it into his pocket, all I could do at that point of time is just sigh and walk away….. Before doing that I somehow caught the lonely God lying on the ground, looking at me sympathetically and giving a pure smile. The smile I won’t forget, I wanted to lift that one piece of paper and take it with me.
Instead I walked away, dreading I might get lost. After joining my father, I turned back again and again thinking to myself that whatever had happened just now was not right. I could’ve done something, to take that part of God with me. The smile flashed in front of my mind many a times, I tried to push away the thought and concentrate on some other thing but I was unable to do so, I felt as if the lonely God would stay with me forever…. the smile…. the lonely God….
It was my first realistic experience with God. I say it is realistic because there occurred no miracle as such and that doesn’t mean miracles aren’t real, they’re as real as my flesh and bones. It is just that these miracles will take their own time to come around and execute themselves; time is the only essence that teaches about so many minute things which we stop observing after a while. I might sound preachy, but this is what I got to know in all the books which I have encountered so far.
The urge to differentiate stuck with me like a leech and no matter what I do I end up bringing others into nothingness. Or maybe it’s my helplessness to resist the urge got me into the oblivion, they say, we carry a part of our parents into the future. A part, none of us could ever deny and this was the part I was carrying with me, an unimportant burden for which I was always feeling guilty. One leads to another like a chain reaction and that’s what I’m talking about. Of course I have been to numerous counseling sessions and all the counselors ever said was “It is okay, that’s what life is all about. Up’s and down’s are a part of it, as an adult you’ve got to learn to deal with it.” But no one ever told me how to deal with it or did any one come up to me saying this how you can come out of the rut which your mind is creating. My mind, yes, that’s what makes me think of the impact of just one incident back and forth it keeps coming and going.
In my high school though I mingled with others, a part has always said “you’re faking”. Long back I came across a word which clearly described me and that was—Sanctimonious—a perfect word to talk about my hypocrisy. Late into my forties I just existed for others and my wife is just clueless about me, as I am now about my children. I’m not closer to any of them and I can guarantee that none of them ever felt like I was there among them, at times my wife did ask me about my problem. What was my problem exactly? Well, it’s just that I was feeling guilty for what my father has done and what I’ve done over the years. Discriminating and what did I teach my children? Absolutely nothing. I do not wish to teach them anything lest I transfer my guiltiness to them. Yes, there were instances where my children did ask me to tell them about God and I cleverly dodged the question, this happened very often that my wife understood that I’m an atheist. I’m not.
Many situations have convinced me that I’m not alone in my life, excluding the family I always felt I was being watched. Unlike my father, my mother was a pious lady but somewhere down the line even she contradicted herself and left me confused as well. She too discriminated on the basis of caste, religion and lifestyles. I didn’t understand I needed some space so I ran away from home at one point of time wanting to die because I know I’ll be doing the same thing as my parents—discriminating. They say God always watches over us, that’s what was worrying me whenever I belittled anyone. Since we carry a part of our parents I’m doomed to do the same.
I didn’t have enough courage to die; hence I tried my level best to live though deep down feeling suicidal all the time until a situation occurred and it was an argument with one of my colleagues. It is not advisable to talk about religion and politics at work place but this colleague of mine did. His point of view was people are becoming more and more religious and concluded that God doesn’t even exist. The defamatory language which he used made me flinch. Break time was about to end, I had to do something not letting the situation go just like that. I gave myself a minute to make a move.
In the meanwhile, I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I know that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven…” immediately I lost the count nor was I inclined to maintain the numbers anymore, he was going out of my sight fading slowly into the numbness which took over me in split seconds. The seizure, as they call it, is part painful and part surprising. Surprising because of the way it takes you closer to death each time and gets you acquainted with the one and only certainty in life—death.
I opened my eyes only to realize the agony of my health condition, which is now flamed by my inaction towards my colleague. Our mind is more prone to failure than to success and this reminded me of the time when I didn’t take back the crumpled paper left by my father. I could’ve, would’ve and should’ve….
An untold, unexpressed guilt engulfs me whenever I think about that childhood memory. What’s easy to say is “shake it off, it’s all in your head” but it isn’t that simple. When my father passed away I couldn’t bring myself to cry not because I was exhausted but I didn’t feel anything. Almost nothing, not even felt like a loss rather I felt relieved. And while packing up his items I came across so many things which explained his mania related to God, extreme obsession which was portrayed by suitcases filled with scribbled notes and pasted Gods here and there. Each and every note gave a very detailed explanation about the dream he had related to a particular God. It didn’t make much sense to do so; still those notes are preserved as a sign of respect to elders.
As I lay on the bed in Vijay Mary Hospital, I grabbed a small rough book left on the cupboard beside me by a Doctor perhaps and did exactly what my father has done when he was alive—made notes. I continued that habit to such an extent it slowly removed other elements from my life like family, job etc.
It is truly said that we carry a part of our parents into the future. It’s the same with everyone.