Source: wikimedia

Young fruits and shiny grass arouse the aroma of the virgin earth and tempting the hearts of the folks, the festive season of the harvest would inaugurate with the first fresh yield to the Lord, Khalil’s cousins would come to greet them and they would relish the divine festivities filled with enthusiasm of the playful frivolities and guilelessness. Arnab would creep the palm, Nivedita sprinkling pepper on the sour raw fruits and Rupam would peep in neighbors’ houses and rub his podgy fingers along the hole while blowing off the dust coagulated around the narrow-naked window.

“Hey! Let us steal some berries from the priest’s backyard” Nivedita began, while clapping her hands soiled with salt and pepper, her mouth was still sour and she seeped in juice while rubbing her lips

“Last year we were saved barely” argued Arnab

“but we were saved right? We are not a monkey like you! I am bored and I’ll accompany her” supported Rupam while he hung his arm over Khalil’s shoulder and they smiled in consent

As a matter of convention, Arnab was not even consulted regarding his surrender to the majority, and before he could manipulate them to rethink the destination approached, in the childish carelessness the thoughtful instincts of Arnab stimulated because he had to become the bate for the prey as others couldn’t climb. His stakes were valuable while others drooled under the dwarf and stout tree.

“Catch them idiots! I can hear him approaching!” Arnab threw the other dozen berries while he glanced the aged frail priest with wrinkle-puckered face rushing towards them, he screamed in terror while he slipped off the branch and landed on his back, he shrieked louder but the scary priest had a cane in his hands and in the unaware breeze of the moment they escaped him closely,

“The god shall curse you burgles!” he cried to his loudest while he panted a he crushed some berries under his cracked feet, it turned carmine

Earlier when infants, they never initiated to climb the tree the abandoned berries half chewed by the ants were their relic later Arnab mastered his art and the hunt became exciting. First time when he climbed priest wasn’t at home, last year he was a bit late and this year he had seen them close enough to curse, but for the sake of lord he had had enough patience to not rumble pebble on them, but he had sworn on the god to curse them, the god whom Khalil would never acknowledge and he didn’t do that that day either

While escaping he stopped to turn and scream “Your god is a hoax” and his fleeting back vanished in the distant bushes akin to ignorance, and the priest smiled at his state of mind, he blessed him with tranquility.

Khalil’s mother had given it all to extract most of the yield from the sterile fields, but she failed even this year. The rich can buy the rain, but the tenants like her couldn’t rain it on their destiny. Her coarse hands often sparked if she touched the wall, and Khalil would blame the lord for their plight. He took his father first and their happiness next, the mother was helpless and the boy was too young to turn the cards. Looking at her mother working day and night for months for the harvest to bloom always tried to trick him into believing that she was not disappointed, but her despondent eyes sunken under debt shone when the lenders measured the harvest and took it all without paying a paisa to her, her brother would come every year to feed the farm and his children fed Khalil’s innocent heart. Her mother never let him be hungry and he had never seen her eating, but he had seen the lenders throwing the surplus of the previous year in the garbage, as it turned stale and they couldn’t digest it.

“Hey! Hey! I’ve got a great news!” screamed Rupam “while I was peeping in Sharma’s house, I heard that Lord was descending on earth to do a miracle” he perspired and caught his breath while he stood stooping with sighs

“Who has time for that” added Arnab

“But to see the god and his miracle is great; any idea what he would do, is he getting us mangoes?” Nivedita went on while she joined her hands and stared the sky as she contemplated

“We must look into it! I would love to meet him!” Khalil smirked as he plotted in his doubtful mind

The gang of the four young enthusiasts dressed up for the temple, and reached after the time “what will happen, now?” asked the young ladies that perched on the floor in front of the large metallic door that closed in front of them,

“in the morning you all will witness that god came here in the dead of night, and the entire temple would appear messed up as if someone stayed here all night” the priest announced as he stared the group with immense curiosity, Khalil stared him back unabashedly

“What if the god organized everything before leaving” Khalil asked the priest and the entire band of people stared him discombobulated, Arnab pulled him back and pinched him

“Hail the lord!” digressed the priest “now all of you can leave we will wait for you in the morning”

“Hail the lord!” shouted the crowd and without any relevant question all of them stood up to leave the place

“Come Khalil, let us go back” said Rupam

Nivedita, Arnab and Rupam held him and persuaded,

“Whom do you fear” Khalil remarked

“Nobody, but our safety, don’t mess up with sentiments, it is a sin” Nivedita added

“It is a sin to sleep in blind curiosity and believe in all what they feign in the name of god, ignorance is sin” he argued

“Ignorance is a bliss, distrust is a sin” Added Rupam “for someone’s breach of faith, a lot can rest”

“We leave it up to you” summed up Arnab and they went to the same shanty refuge while Khalil chose to stay

As the religious crowd fled to their awaiting home, the courtyard regained its vast expanse with tiny grass-weeds-flowers-bushes it smelled as fresh as sap, and Khalil felt like chewing a strand of herbs. The wind cooled down and swirled around the temple. Khalil saw the priest closing the doors and he inspected to find any mischief he did or any antic he played while he stealthily shut the temple down. The priest didn’t ask him to leave, ‘God is universal and eternal’ and he couldn’t bound the child of inquisition from witnessing the miracle.

Khalil crouched on the cold sand in the courtyard facing the giant metallic door corroded around the iron frame, the impeccable vicinity studded with immense trees provided an excellent solace to his disturbed state of mind. The time passed and his curiosity turned into mundanity and the monotony burdened his eyes. He went off often but his adamance kept him awake. He had never spent such an amount of time with himself, and now when he had to, he found it cumbersome and tormenting. His mind asked him questions which he had been ignoring since years, but unlike the conveniently excused ‘yesterday’ he couldn’t deceive himself. From the finance to his efforts, every thing was being questioned and he ignored them initially but when the invisible mist rose from the ground, the air hugged him profoundly and the night became aged he couldn’t keep up and he contemplated about himself.

“Hey Khalil! What are you waiting for just surrender yourself to thee and follow your life with honesty” whispered the air in his ears, he knew it was his mind tricking him into believing the god, at once Khalil stood up-not humble but with rage and hunger- today he had the chance to disgrace the god whom the folks followed fanatically as he believed, he could rebel with a cause.

The priest as I said was old, and he never minded fastening the ventilator of the main room in the temple, the priest was old and in his idyllic innocence he hung a cane around the ventilator that let the light of the lamp escape the crevice, while Khalil’s desire to protest the norms of society turned hostile he executed his plan to pilferage the sanctity of the lord. He rushed-climbed-landed and perched on the stool that was placed in the center of the temple room. He could see it, very vividly the idol of the lord, in fresh pale clothes and a bed adorned for him to use. The bed was covered in velvet, around it were pillows and a silver plate with areca and betel.

To Khalil's wonder the place was divine in true sense of spiritualism. Khalil perched on the stool and noted the time in the clock that hung in the room, it was 2:45 a.m. and in 20 minutes the priest would come with the devotees and the miracle would be witnessed. But he couldn’t find anything miraculous even though he inspected every nook and corner just like every other human, he didn’t look into himself just like other humans, and unaware that his will to discover the miracle in itself had given birth to faith; when he failed to find any trace of god he vexed and after he perched again on the stool he was annoyed and he began

“You fool others so much, Man! You are so mean, you never come to rescue us” tears rolled into his eyes “my mom works so hard, god, why you torture her, why don’t you help her, when I say to her that I will make her rich someday, she says if god wishes! she doesn’t believe who cares for her but she believes you even if you are absent, please for her FAITH do come and save us!” he joined his hands while he begged from him

At once Khalil’s dormant wisdom illuminated with a blissful sheen and he wondered:

‘the torment her mother faced when the yield doesn’t sprout is equivalent to the pain the devotees would undergo when the miracle wouldn’t be witnessed, the pain when faith breaks is indifferent to the circumstance’

The realization struck him and he could listen the priest humming the chants and hymns, he climbed the ventilator and let himself out. The priest struck the gong, while his disciple blew the Shankha the crowd went insane, while he opened the door and the entire room was found used, the areca and betel was found chewed, the sheet creased and the pillows misplaced, the priest distributed the ’prasad’ and the people hailed the divine lord who had blessed them with his presence.

That evening when the birds fled to their nests, the clouds retreated to oceans; the cousins accompanied Khalil to the priest’s courtyard as they sought forgiveness

“Pranam!” they said in harmony

“Pranam! Come my children sit here, Raghu get the berries” the priest smiled and his wrinkles entered his eyes

“No, we came to ask for forgiveness!” Added Arnab

“For the berries?”

“No!” climbed Khalil, he kneeled on the floor and his cousins stood behind, the priest resting on the folding bed under the neem tree kept his hands on his head and asked “Then why?”

“No miracle took place today, I did the mischief” Khalil said while he wept in pain, he wanted to expose the reality to prevent the devotes from believing in the fantasies but the dilemma struck him when he had to sacrificed their tranquility and belief and yearning for the sake of his obstinacy,

“God says that I live where augments compassion, for the selflessness the rituals must be broken, and for compassion stubbornness; indeed, the miracle has happened”

“I sought it everywhere, but couldn’t find it!”

“look for it within you, that is where he lives”

That evening the berries needn’t be stolen, the night came as yesterday but Khalil could sleep profoundly as he had discovered the god in himself. Next day his cousins would leave, but everything would be changed for now.

.    .    .