Saturday 15 August 2020

BhupendraKumar Dave, ShortStory 2020 Longlist

The God

And His Journey to Earth

We, the people of India, have stories about the various incarnations of God. All these stories indicate that the God had specific reason for appearing on earth every time. The epics, however, tell us that whenever there is decline of righteousness and unrighteousness is in ascend then God appears on the earth for the protection of the virtues, for the destruction of evil-doers and for establishing righteousness on a firm footing.

But the truth, however, remains that the Lord appears on earth amongst us every now and then not only to know our troubles but also to guide and help us to live a pious and happy life.

It once happened that when He was walking on earth amongst us, He intended to stay at night when darkness had enveloped the earth and the moon was covered by dark clouds. At that time He was right in front of a huge building surrounded by a large lovely garden with soft green grass. It was a marvelous sight. The garden was full of beautiful flowers like stars that appear in Eden Garden. The garden also had fountains carved out of white marble. The colourful light emerging from the lamp posts, surrounding the fountains, made the sprinkles of varied colours and the flying droplets glimmered like beautiful gems. The entire building had highly polished marble-tiles and had doors of exquisite pure gold. Right on the top of the building was a golden figure of a virgin with flowing garments. The granite tiles on the path surrounding the building mirrored the whole beauty of the garden.

The God stood there in front of the gate for sometime musing how perfectly the men have created such a unique replica of heaven for themselves. To Him the building appeared as the one that even angels would love to live. The God, therefore, decided to stay there at night, but the armed guard refused to open the gate for Him for the God was wearing common clothes and did not even looked like a rich man worthy of entering that wondrous premises.

The God would have turned back but He wanted to ensure who was the occupant of such a celestial building. In order to make himself appear important and presentable, He moved closer to the gate and revealed His supreme divine form with a bejeweled golden crown and His long flowing apparel embroidered with diamonds and carbuncles.

The guard rubbed his eyes as he could not see anything except the dazzling light. He, however, rushed to open the gate and bowed to Him with joined palms. The God moved a step inside the gate and then immediately took the form of an ordinary peasant. The rich man who owned the building heard the music that arouse with the opening of the gate. He peeped out of the window and asked the gate-keeper, ‘Who is at the gate?’

The gate-keeper was still trembling and took some time to answer his master, ‘There is a stranger or some magician. I cannot tell exactly.’

So the rich man asked the stranger what he wanted. The God replied, ‘I am looking for a night’s lodging.’

Seeing the God in common clothes, the rich man who had come down at the door, shouted, ‘How dare you to come down to this place, you penniless man? My gates allow only the rich people to enter my premises. The gate opens for none else, not even for the God.’

‘Has God ever appeared before you?’ asked the stranger, ‘and if He ever comes here, will you be able to recognise Him?’

‘Why should I bother ’, said the rich man, ‘I have no need to see Him and bag before Him. I have everything I need and now the God can give me nothing more.’

‘You need nothing, are you sure?’ asked the God, ‘Not even the true happiness, a fraction of which your riches can’t dream to attain.’

‘Don’t curse me,’ shouted the rich man and ordered the gatekeeper to drive the stranger out. The gate-keeper was very reluctant to drive out the stranger and was even moved when the stranger --- the God turned about with a smiling face. The gate-keeper with tears flowing from his eyes prayed silently and bowed to Him with joined palms.

The God walked away leaving the town behind. He had reached a point less than a kilometer from the town when at a sharp bend in the road, there came a shout ‘fall on the ground.’ Two armed men, who had ambushed in the shadow, sprang out upon the God and threw Him on the road. One man knelt on His legs and fastened His wrists together. The other man tried bandaging His eyes with a folded handkerchief. He was trying to tie too tightly, but the God offered no resistance, for He had already left His body in their cruel hands and stood aside to see what they intended to do.

‘Where is all that jewelry you had worn at the gate of that celestial building?’ asked the man tightening the eyes still harder.

‘We had seen that you were not allowed to enter the garden at all,’ growled the other man, ‘but you had removed all the jewelry rather too quickly. Now tell where have you kept all that.’

The God, however, remained silent and this annoyed them extremely. Sinister imaginings began to haunt their minds and they started growling like wild beasts. Yet God knew that they did not mean to kill Him. The God knew it well that it was not possible for any man to cause even a slightest injury to God.

‘But I must suffer to assess their wickedness,’ mused the God, ‘I must know how strongly they are under the clutches of Satan.’

The captors gripped His legs tightly, shook Him, and pulled Him over the rocks and thorns. They also intended to drag Him violently down the stony hillside and throw Him deep into the valley in total darkness.

At this point the God reacted. How strange! Suddenly the captors saw light --- the whole body of the God began to radiate blinding light. The hearts of the captors were filled with terror because the light was so dazzling that they could see nothing. Flames spat up like serpents’ tongues from the body. The silent night too was swamped by the angry crackling of the fire. They could no more hold the legs and drag the body. The skin of their palms had burnt and the flesh was melting down. Half-crazed with pain and fear, they fled and disappeared.

The dreadful scene had now changed. The God got up quite idly, quite innocently and went on walking. There at a distance He saw a hut as light from a small burning tip of an oil lamp peeped out of the cracks of doors of the hut. The God quickened His steps and reached the hut and gave polite knocks. He had hardly done so when a poor man opened the little door and bade Him to come in.

Inside the hut the God stood stunned for He confronted the absolute poverty inside. There was nothing except a rotten carpet to sleep, a few utensils to cook, an earthen pot for drinking water. In a corner sat his wife, bare-headed and wearing only a single garment. Near her was a thin, wax-coloured child sleeping wrapped, in rags. There was, of course, an old calendar bearing the image of God, hanging on a hook. But in spite of this extreme poverty, the poor couple looked quite happy and satisfied.

‘Pass the night with us, it is already dark and I won’t advice you to go any further in the night,’ said the poor man. His wife brought some boiled potatoes and milk and said, ‘Please eat to your content and worry little for us.’

After the supper they made up a bed for themselves and offered their carpet to the stranger to take rest.

In the morning when the God prepared Himself for further journey, the poor couple wished Him all the best. The God was about to step out, when the poor man made a request. He said, ‘As per our tradition, before leaving this place, kindly bow to our God.’ The God did bow with smile and then asked, ‘Do you know what God is and how He looks?’

‘We have never seen Him but to us He appears as honorable as in this calendar,’ the poor man said pointing towards the old calendar, ‘We thank Him every day for whatsoever He gives us --- some happiness too wrapped in our poverty and His slice of smile smeared with courage. That is enough for us.’

The God was so moved by their simplicity that it made His eyes tearful.

‘O, weep not, good man. This place of ours does not allow anyone to shed tears. The God wishes to see us all happy and contented therefore we live happily in spite of our poverty,’ the poor man’s wife said.

The God then said, ‘As you have been so kind and good to me, you may wish anything you want and I will most willingly grant them.’

But the poor man said, ‘We are poor and therefore cannot thrust any wishes on God. We rather love to live as per His wishes.’

The sun had risen and the God intended to return back to His abode. He had not gone far, when He saw a temple and a devotee coming out of it. The devotee was enchanting Sanskrit slokas in praise of God and when the God wished him ‘good morning’, he paid little attention. When the God said ‘good morning’ again, the devotee simply looked up and continued to go his way murmuring his prayer.

Then the God wished ‘good morning’ at the third time, but the devotee stopped just for a second to look at the God and said nothing.

‘To whom are you praising, O man?’ asked the God. But the devotee did not like to get interrupted and therefore looked with contempt at the God. The God, however, continued to follow him. This annoyed the devotee more and he turned back to shower abuses on the follower. The God smiled and said, ‘Just tell me what are you enchanting and for what purpose because I am unable to hear your murmuring.’

‘I am praising God as trained by my Guru. I like to perform this ritual without any interruption. So leave me alone and go your way, you bastard, wretched man,’ retorted the devotee.

‘Just tell me one thing and I will not question anymore,’ the God said very politely, ‘Do you know the God and can you recognize Him if He appears before you?’

‘Yes, I know my God and am tirelessly trying to find Him. I am sure, I will meet Him. My Guru says so,’ he replied.

‘I think you also want to know me?’ the God asked, but the devotee retorted back, ‘Why should I try to know everyone who comes in my way? There are too many devils in the world who want devotee like me to get disturbed. So go your way and trouble me no more.’

The devotee looked furious and intended to attack. The God stood spell bound for a few seconds for He knew that those who are held in the bondage by innumerable ties of expectations, given over to passion and anger enmeshed in the web of delusion remain deluded by ignorance and think that by performing nominal sacrifices they can attain God.

It so happened that when the God turned back, a well-dressed gentleman came close to Him and asked, ‘What is the matter? You look disturbed. What pains you?’

‘There is nothing very serious,’ said the God, ‘I am only surprised to find that no one on this earth wants to know the God. People even cannot recognise Him. Is not all this painful?’

‘Well, in my opinion, it is pure stupidity to think and talk about God,’ the man replied.

‘Can I therefore presume that you too can not recognize the God even when He appears before you?’ the God wanted the gentleman to elaborate his views further. But the man was an atheist and said, ‘How can we see the one who does not exist?’

‘Well, look at me,’ said the God and revealed His glorious form with a bejeweled golden crown and His long flowing apparel embroidered with diamonds and carbuncles and asked, ‘Do you now recognize me?’

‘Yes, it is so easy to recognize a magician like you. You are an expert magician for you have just now shown me how an ordinary poor man can change himself to appear rich,’ said the atheist.

‘I am no magician,’ said the God, ‘look and try to recognize me. You will then know me in reality.’

The atheist looked the God from head to feet and then said, ‘How can I know the one who has never met me? May I also ask if you know me --- my name and what I do.’

‘Surely not,’ replied the God, ‘for those who keep their thoughts hidden in ‘I’ and actions imprisoned in ‘self’, keep their name as a proof of their identity --- as a passport for their journey from birth to death on this earth.’

‘That applies to you as well for your thoughts and actions I perceive not,’ said the egoistic atheist and walked away.

‘Here is one who cares little for the bird and its feather and hears not its good counsel,’ mused the God.

After sometime the God saw a fairly dressed man walking leisurely on the road. As he came close to the God, he bowed and wished Him ‘good day.’

The God too wished him ‘good day’ with a smile. The man with a smile requested the God to walk and chat with him.

‘Oh surly,’ said the God, ‘you have excellent manners and that impresses me. By the way do tell me if you have already recognized me.’

‘Man is known by his smile. Your smile is friendly. In your smile I see godliness. In fact, I see all have good heart yet some do get disturbed by circumstances --- bad luck you may call that,’ said the man very thoughtfully.

The God was impressed but wanted to know if his has recognized Him and therefore asked him, ‘Do you know God and can you recognise Him if He appears before him?’

‘May I tell you that my approach is different? I see God in all human beings and leave it for him to prove it otherwise. It is unfortunate that now a day’s even an idiot tries to act as gentleman. A devil too tries to imitate the God and cause all confusion happy.’

‘Here is the man that has not changed since his creation by me,’ thought the God and therefore revealed His glorious form with a bejeweled golden crown and His long flowing apparel embroidered with diamonds and carbuncles and asked, ‘Do you now recognize me?’

‘O God! Do not question my faith in you. I see this form of yours in all creatures, all the time and love to live with them to enrich my faith in you,’ he said bowing before the God, ‘it is your love that guides my thoughts and actions and makes my life happy and worth living.’ With these words he bowed to Him with joined palms

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