He visited the temple two-three times a day. He’d fold his hands together, say “Jai jai,” and then reach out for the peal of bells. He’d stick his head forward for an elegant tikka on his forehead and his hand for some prasad. Some days, he’d ask for some coins to push down the donation box. Saying goodbye to the Gods and turning away from the temple took some cajoling, even bribery on certain days. The promise of another trip soon usually worked.

I don’t know what he asked for in his prayers, if he asked for anything at all. I don’t even know when he felt such great a pull towards a temple. But I know that it kept him in smiles. He had had a rough year. Typhoid, medicinal side-effects, a broken leg; enough to make anyone feel miserable. But with his God by his side, he didn’t care. Yes, he gulped the medicines with a bit of a frown, bawled when he couldn’t feel his leg move and grumbled when he couldn’t jump into the pool. But he never forgot his trips to the temple.

Perched in the nook of the maid’s arms, he’d have such a serene look about himself. Oblivious to his bodily pains, only eager to meet the Maker. He would be quiet on these trips. Withdrawn, smiling away to himself. He had not the eyes nor the inclination to indulge/respond to your awws and coochie coos.

I was highly amused when he attempted to hoist himself on the plinth to reach out for the Ganpati idol during the societal celebrations. I scolded him then. Even related the tale anecdotally. But later I realized that I was ridiculing his devotion. He taught me to believe, at a time when I didn’t think I could. He taught me the power of prayer when I had stopped believing in its efficacy. He taught me about faith when I was all over the place, questioning my own.

And lately, he has begun to feed the cow, who visits our lane every weekend. Needless to say, it’s the highlight of the day.



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