Ever since I can remember, I was constantly told that ” Don’t do this. God will get angry” “Don’t behave like this God will punish you.” ” Don’t Lie or God will make you an animal in next birth”
Thanks to all these ‘religious teachings’ that I started fearing God instead of loving him. I feared all the time that he might get angry & punish me in the most obscure way. I was ok with being reborn as a cow ( at least I would have had police & law of this country protecting me. I would have lifted my tail with pride & set right at the juncture of the busy signal. Wishful thoughts). But mosquito, firefly no ways.
I often saw her preparing elaborate prasad & offering it to the GOD> My ever curious mind used to puzzle. ” When mom says that God gives us everything then why she has to offer ‘Prasad’ to the god.” Whenever I asked her this question I was either hushed or given the reason that it was a token of respect. Believe me, I couldn’t understand how come a bowl of thick creamy dry fruit laden kheer or pure ghee ladoos be a sign of respect!
From homemade offering to the ready-made packets available at the prasad vendors outside every temple, I literally grew up watching the God savoring all sorts of heavenly food ( heavenly not just because of its taste but also for the fact that it was not in our reach until ‘accepted by the god)
The prasad came in all colors, price, size & forms. A package to suit every pocket. I was happy to see that even a person who looked starved for days could buy a Rs 5/- prasad. After all, it is the only way to get the attention of the God.
As I grew old I picked up the trick. Every time I did something that was considered sinful, I rushed to the nearest temple, rubbed my nose in front of the idol & offered a bundle of prasad. Rs 5, 11, 21, 51 & maximum 100 for the deadliest of crime ( going for a movie without telling mom came under this category. The prasad was more of a bribe in order to not get caught )
I feared not that I would get caught one day or GOD will punish me or even the melodramatic monolog by my mom when a passwali Sharma aunty would barge in & say ” Aap ki beti nikal gayi haath se. Mere bunty ke picture hall me dekha tha ussey.” making my mom feeling angry, frustrated & embarrassed in one go. ( What her ladla Bunty beta was doing in the cinema hall was never asked. Never mind, we shall discuss the gender bias in some other post)
Believe you me I saved money for such emergencies. You never know when a ‘concerned’ neighbor starts following you & break the hell to your parents. God forbid.
There were times when I ran out of money. In such difficult times, many questions came rushing in my mind. But the one that scared me the most was
Will You forgive my sin?
Will you allow me that extra 5 marks in exams?
Will you send Sharma uncle to the cinema hall before Bunty finds me?
Will you please take away Sharma aunty’s memory ( temporarily or permanently, Whatever you wish.I don’t like her much anyways) before she barge again in my house?
Will I get a good husband?
A boy child? ( Aren’t we suppose to exist for the very reason. To produce a male child)
A mother-in-law who doesn’t treat me like a dirt?
Not get married before graduation?
And the list went on & on & on ….
At present, life has changed so have the problems that bother me. I am still a sinner flaunting rules, doing things that this society doesn’t approve of. And even today I am afraid of GOD & one dreaded question that haunts me in my sleep “God What IF I Don’t Have RS 11 Prasad?”
( This is a piece of fiction to highlight the systematic manipulation done in the name of religion. If only we humans could understand that the God need our good deeds as offerings not a bundle of sweets & incense sticks )