Ishwar, Allah…could you ‘scuse me please?

I live in a residential society called Kaushambi, almost on the New Delhi-Ghaziabad border. Eleven years ago, when we first shifted to this place, ours were the highest buildings in the vicinity. The society was bounded on all sides it faced a main road with Eucalyptus trees. There were few other important buildings around, except Dabur’s green glass upstart.

Today, there are three flashy malls, an upcoming metro station, one functioning metro station at Anand Vihar ISBT, and a full-fledged railway station, both of which are right across the border,  a rival bus stand on this side of a very congested four-way crossing, possibly Mayawati’s bid to connect this part to mainland Ghaziabad. How things have changed in a decade.

And oh, the Eucalyptus trees i mentioned, they’re gone. Replaced by huge billboards that advertise condoms, real estate and gutkha.

As you enter Ghaziabad, right at the crossing, there’s a Hanuman mandir. Upto 2 months back, there used to be a police station right next to it, which got restationed about 2 kms away since they had to broaden the road, now that this area had become so heavy of on traffic. They’ve built a new entrance and exit to the now formalised bus stand (which in all probability was encroaching on private property till recently), broadened and remade the road in front of it. It is now smooth and doesn’t have pot holes, for the first time since i’ve come here. But it is just that part – they haven’t rebuilt the other side of the road, which is full of craters deeper than on the moon, and that are serious health hazards. It is a pity that while Delhi is sprucing up heavily (at whatever cost), even so far into east Delhi, since they need to connect Yamuna Sports Complex, one of the chief venues, our part of the world is sadly ignored while we look on on this fanciness. But that’s another story.

Anyhow, that tiny Hanuman Mandir stands stoically on the very spot it was built god knows how long (or short) ago. There’s a road behind it, and a road in front of it. They moved the police station, but who could have the guts to ask god to move?! Everyday, as the inter-city traffic returns from work back to their humble homes in this part of Ghaziabad, they get stuck, sometimes for hours at this traffic signal, because this temple cannot be moved so a broader road could actually live up to the convenience it is supposed to provide. The people, they get frustrated and run heavy risks of running over people standing outside the place lost in their prayers in the process of the mayhem that follows, but no! His will, or so we presume, is to stay on this point and inconvenience this particular section of mankind, because that is his might. Is that it – refusal to budge, or be moved, as a testament to power? Hanuman moved mountains in his time, but would he and his followers have the humility to shift just a little for the sake of a larger good?

Would a god be god unless He had the compassion and love for his subjects that he preaches? Would man be man unless he actually learns this compassion and love that his God(s) teach him?

Would man become god if he decides to follow a path so rigid and unbending, so uncompromising, so monochrome and so blind that countless heads might roll and immense pain might transpire, but his God remains untarnished?

We’ve a lot to ponder about, with this Babri Masjid case throwing into relief our twisted notions of what Gods stand for.

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The tale of your neighborhood Idol

“Sand precipitate,
Grey
Like the reflection of
A Cumulused pregnant sky,
I sit like a lump
At your feet,
Existing empty, but still,
not just Being.
Shored up
In multitudes,
I, too, am one of a kind, really.
That unnoticed…and then again.
When you do
Pick me up, perchance,
It is, maybe,
My potent serene energy
That turns you on,
To put chisel down my front.
It is, maybe,
Your observation
That i do not bleed, then,
That elevates me
And makes me
Yet another
Sad, lonely God
In a golden, morbid shrine.”

The Little Black God

There once was a god
So lean and carefree,
He lived and surfeited
Out of a hole in a tree.

He sat content
In the shade of his tree.
Accepting proferred money
And wine for free.

His life was easy.
His pate was black.
His devotees were few
And he blessed out of a sack.

Slowly, they told the world
Of his many powers,
Of how his magic
Could bring down the stars.

They stood in front of him,
And the crowd only grew.
They chanted his glory
With eyes aglow anew.

They looked at him,
The mighty revered being,
His dusty paunch and scaly skin
This poor great king!

They cringed and they groaned,
They grabbed and de-stoned.
They dug him out of his misery,
And set him up on a golden throne.

His novel abode gleamed.
The marble and the gems,
The mirrors and the men,
Made his worst nightmares descend.

They gave him flowers,
They gave him food,
They gave him bars,
But they didn’t give him the booze.

Oh for a drink!
He cried silently, into the night.
His black devotees heard him,
But were banished from his sight.

The masses prayed to him
And sung praise all day long,
But he shivered alone in the dark
Always, wondering what had gone wrong.

He grew sad and in time,
His powers too deserted him.
His existence was ruined
At one very costly whim.

They all left, one by one,
Just as they had come,
They left him burdened,
Sober, miserable and numb.

His palace was glass,
It cracked when he seethed.
His anger was ineffective.
Since there was no one left to bleed.

But then nature intervened,
As he lay prostrate and distraught.
She seduced him and gave him love,
In the passing draught.

In their silken haze,
They procreated and bore
The offspring that stemmed within
And enveloped him from its core.

He is happy again,
His place in the world restored
He drinks and blesses to his hearts content
As he lives out of his tree hole.