I shattered Ganesh into eerie shards of glass. I betrayed someone’s trust; couldn’t keep my promise of taking good care of the Ganesh for which, I am truly very sorry and even more so – and surprisingly at that – d e v a s t a t e d.
I bounce around town talking to random people on a spate of topics; one of those topics happens to be religion. I’m almost proud that I don’t have much dependence on it. The very concept confuses me to the point where it stops making any sense to me.
My hero – Laxmi Prasad Devkota, whose poetry – the few that I can interpret – I live by (bit of a hyperbole there), and who as a born-again Believer when he was about to die, jumped ship only to seek comfort due to fear: fear of dying. A thinker of Devkota’s caliber, I’d have thought, would’ve figured it out to do better, much better. He chose the easy route.
O how I’m screwed after I die, provided there’s a God playing flute and chasing women somewhere.
There are scholars who’ve read, analyzed, and completed their PhDs thanks to The Great One. I have had the fortune of meeting at least one such Devkota scholar. He rather disagrees with my 5-essay, 10-or-so-poem, and 1-katha knowledge of the Mahakabi. He tells me I have miles to go before I can come close to analyzing Devkota’s poems. I’ve put down that ungodly-distance-to-cover as my agenda for next life; provided there is one and I find myself in a maze of some kind of a reincarnate, inter-life memento.
For this life however, here’s my point: I had come to believe that I could piss on a statue with the same regard that I piss on the toilet. I’ve written some (sucky) poetry with clear intentions of wanting to shoot Shiva’s fancy exoteric stone and gold effigy in Pashupati; to find out if it would react. I am, once again, willing to bet my गुलेली that it will not. I have pictures and figurines of deities in the house that I live – a lifelong collection of my parents who live out in the East. Parents love their Gods. I only like the mythological stories behind these idols.
Last week, I discovered another angle to my atheism. Sure I can piss on a statue without feeling anything and I may use a statue as a scarecrow – did give it a thought once. Do crows Know by the way – in that – are they Beleivers (Murakami would find a way to make that normal, I’m sure)? Getting back to the topic at hand, I will never do so. I can’t. Not on public property, not on private. I will not take my mother’s figurine of Radha-Krishna up to the terrace and spit on it. No. The question then is: why the thought?
Growing up, I despised Gods. They didn’t see us as equals and vice versa. One would always be greater than the other, and evidently, this custom is not going out the window anytime soon. The statue around the corner has little hope compared to the one enshrouded in Pashupati. Why is one stone considered holier than its more unfortunate counterpart? Does it depend on the length of lines we form behind them? As has already been established in other important parts of our lives, looks like size matters in religion too.
My hatred may have been because, when I was a kid, I had prayed to Bindabasini (in the heart of Pokhara, suckers!) to hook me up with the prettiest girl in my class. Didn’t happen. Then I’d prayed to God to help me get rid of my stutter. Never happened. So then I prayed to God to please please increase my height (fast fast) – I was in grade 5! Needless to say, didn’t meet any deadline.
So then I decided to give God one last chance and prayed to Bindabasini to at least provide me the brute force required to bravely stand up to Amar whenever he bullied me for my speech impediment, my height, my ethnicity, etc. etc. As and when he pleased, he would still manage to furnish a good beating to me like a Youth Force cadre beats up a journalist. We would later become good buddies – especially after I also took up smoking .. in grade 6. And that, ladies and gents, is when I became the coolest baun around.
So when I was handed the Ganesh (because of my smug request, mind you), I didn’t treat it any differently than I treated the duct-tape, the scissors, the sandals, the key, the pack of Surya cigarettes, the CD (yes, CD), the broom, the ladies-hair-clip, the coffee mug, and the coasters that were all inside a shopping bag with the Ganesh. That unintentional indifference on my part eventually led to Ganesh’s fall to the floor after which it just – to my utter dismay – obliterated into tiny, little-bity pieces of glass of which it was manufactured.
I’m not much of a cry-baby but as the Ganesh hit the floor and suffered the unfortunate consequence of that impact, I – an atheist to the bone, was reduced to a sorrow the likes of which I had never experienced before. J didi!
The Ganesh belonged to someone I (brotherly) love – J didi. It was gifted to J by her sister. J is a believer. Among a bevy of subjects, J didi and I oftentimes talk religion over at Indreni Coffee Shop in New Baneshwor and always agree to disagree. People put their loved ones’ framed photographs on their desks while at work – haven’t seen much of that in Nepal though; J put her Ganesh .. until last week.
I killed the Ganesh. It is, for all practical purposes, gone. And unfortunately, it is irreplaceable. How do you replace an object that has been a constant symbol of someone’s well-grounded faith for quite some time? Had it been an iPod that I’d shattered, I’d buy J the latest one. If it were a transistor radio (remember those things) that I’d broken, I’d give J a Non-Chinese one. You get the drift. How do I replace someone’s God?
I felt like a murderer .. as if I’d murdered someone’s children! As much of an atheist as I am, I respect other people’s beliefs. I’d .. fight to protect their freedom of expression (in this case religion I suppose), as much as I may disagree with that expression or idea. Seeing that I couldn’t put back the Ganesh together, made me hate myself. Hanging my head, I faced J didi who claims to ‘know’ me inside out. I believe she does do, what with thoughts I venture into after many a conversation with her.
Didi and I have a relationship that transcends beyond the anger I managed to invoke in her. People I like, I like (more .. sometimes) when they’re angry .. with me. The anger shows another real and beautiful side of them – a side that I don’t get to see often. In didi’s case, it’d been forever. She was furious but something told me that our relationship has grown to another ‘maturity level’ because of this incident.
J didi’s desk is incomplete – thanks to me.
Happy Shivaratri everyone!