Anachronism (noun): an error in chronology; a person or thing that’s chronologically out of place. Write a story in which a person or thing is out of place, or recount a time when you felt out of place.
“Anachronism means a person or thing out of place, that is, if you were in a place and you felt that you do not belong there.”
“But Mumma, why should you choose to be in a place where you feel out of place?”, questioned Kamya wittily.
“Kamya we do not get to make all of our choices in life.”, replied her mother; wondering if buying Bournvita for her six year old was actually a smart choice. Her perpetually increasing questions are undoubtedly a reason for unrest.
Twelve years later as Kamya stands outside a temple with her father, the scorching sun breaking hell on mankind, she experiences an epiphany. Anachronism, the apt word for the situation she is in.
Kamya is not an atheist but the idea that God lies in idols or finding God in the four walls of a temple or any other religious structure, never quite appealed her. In stark contrast to her, is her father whose superstition and god-fearing(ness) can defy any logic.
Two years ago, when Kamya’s Tauji met with an accident after visiting temples of Goddess Durga’s manifestations in North India, her father pointed out, “Bhaisahab, you called up on this misfortune yourself. You visited the temples in the wrong order, the correct order is ‘Chamunda Devi, Kangra Devi, Jwala Devi and finally Chintapurni’. Your indiscretion must have upset Goddess Durga.” Kamya was shocked beyond belief when everyone seconded his thought.
“By God’s willingness, we were able to finish the Darshan well within time.” said Kamya’s father. Kamya looks at the glossy V.I.P. passes in her hand and shakes her head in disbelief. She is itching to correct him that it is not for God’s willingness but for these V.I.P. passes bought for 4500 that they were able to evade long queues and earn themselves a minuscule view (mind you, a bigger minuscule than the normal crowd) of Sai Baba’s statue.
A month ago when they watched Akshay Kumar’s movie Oh My God (Hindi adaptation of the Australian film, The Man Who Sued God), her father had given a standing ovation as the closing credits rolled by. And she believed that maybe a movie has talked some sense in to him but alas movies are for recreation not for reflection and drawing inspiration.
Next day, they were in another temple and this temple had taken Commercialization of God/Devotion/Spirituality to a newer level.
- Open kiosk for selling passes at Rupees 250
- A Rs. 20 extra to the Prashadwala and he carries your footwear to the entrance so that the blazingly hot ground doesn’t burn your feet
- Platinum, Gold and Silver packages for the Puja- euphemism for Pandit’s commission of 1500,1000,500 respectively
- And a special recommendation that cash or gold/silver ornament adorning your offerings accelerates the prayer processing mechanism in God’s chambers
As she sees her father negotiate with the Pandit over a package, she realizes that they have already spent Rs 45,640 on the religious trip solely embarked with the intention of searching God or getting closer to him. She ponders if Lord Buddha would have been able to attain ‘Nirvana’ without the riches in the 21st century. Even God would be amused to see the fearless commodificaton of Moksha, how a crisp-crimson 1000 rupees note can help a mortal wash off his sins.
As they walk out of the temple, Kamya tells her father, “Dad the way you splurge, it worries me at times.”
“God gives, God takes.” her father curtly replies.
Her mother who could sense an altercation if Kamya utters another word on the same, astutely changed the topic and said, “Can we go and see the local markets if we are not running behind schedule?”
The same night, they were returning back home from their religious trip. A few miles before their hometown, a dog (whose owner apparently was walking it on the highway) appeared in front of their car. Her father hurriedly hit the brakes and the car behind them hit their’s abruptly. As the car behind them zoomed away in dark, all of them rushed outside to assess the damage. Her father running a finger across the huge dent on the boot, said, “We did a huge mistake by not visiting the Hanuman temple en route, look how much has it costed us.”