Source: Dejan Ristovski on Pinterest

The Patel house was fully decorated with lighting, flowers, various paper arts, sequin cloth on the table, rangoli and all, but mostly with little Rutu's joy and laughter. The atmosphere was filled with mesmerising aromas of various sweets. Rutu didn't know why they were celebrating, only knew what. Her mother had told her time and again that they were celebrating Lord Ganesha's birthday and she would ask no questions only where the cake was, and everybody would laugh.

But she was only 4 then now she is 8 and has questions, to the same answers her mother, father, and grandparents always gave.

But now she really wants to know how these boys named Ganesha(who has an elephant head!!), Krishna, Shiva, and also girls like Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga and all others were related, and so important to their family. Why were their photos hanging on the walls? And they even had their separate room just for photos where Rutu always had to sing songs with her family, while Rutu had to sleep in her grandma's room. What was so special about them?

So she decided to ask those questions to her mother, and this time to actually listen to what she says. She finds her mother in the kitchen doing dishes.

"Mumma..who is god?" she asks

"Really again..?" Her mother sighs and gives a little laugh and says,

"God is the creator of the world--"

Now, this was something Rutu heard for the first time. She remembers the last time her mother told her that God was their protector and that he was Rutu's best friend, and Rutu said that her best friend was Riya and her mother laughed at her like always and waived her away.

"...Rutu..are you even listening?" Her mother asked.

"yes...yes...I am...I am.." She says Looking eagerly.

"So, God created this earth, all the humans and living things, he provides us with food, water and all things, he protects us from evil, he punishes bad people and helps us whenever we ask for help or sometimes we don't even have to ask, he just knows. He is very powerful and helps us and saves us from danger and he is the reason we are all alive". Smita finishes.

Rutu was trying to fit all the information her mother gave at once, in her tiny brain. All the words were just swirling inside her head. "Which one of them is God"? She asks pointing towards the room where the photos and idols of gods were kept.

"They all are God Rutu--" Her mother replied. "-- They all have different powers and they all protect us from--"

"--Then why does Rabia's house have no photos or room like this ?" She said, cutting her mother short.

"Because Rabia has her own god and they call him Allah and also Simran and her family have their own, they believe in Waheguru, so simple." Says her mother

"Why?" She asks slowly and confused.

Her mother takes a deep breath, "Because Rutu they believe in their own god and different people believe in different gods, but they also say that even if God appears in different faces and forms, they are all the same and there is only one god for all".

"Where do they live ? I've never seen any of them anywhere except for in photos and--".

"--My curry!..oh God!..Rutuu..I forgot I had curry on the stove..ARE DEVA...ARE DEVA...". There she was again, shouting various gods' names as always. And like always, nobody came, no god came to help her. Her mother goes panicking in the kitchen and now she has to clean up the mess and has a lot of work to do. So Rutu's questions have remained unanswered. So she finds her grandma and asks her. "Dadi..where does God live.?"

Her grandma laughs and says, "He lives everywhere, my dear child. Everything you see or touch is God. But mostly he lives in your heart". She pokes Rutu's heart twice and Rutu looks at her chest. "Wherever there is good there is God."

"What..!!". Rutu says annoyingly walking away, thinking her grandma was not making any sense. 

Her father comes home from work, he kisses and hugs Rutu as usual and they all have dinner together and then it is time for Rutu to sleep. But she remembers everything her mother and grandma told her. She wants to know who exactly all these Gods were and where they lived and she was going to find it out on her own now.

__________

Next morning, Rutu wakes up and engages in her daily routine and gets ready to go to school. She eats breakfast and packs her bag adding a piece of paper where she wrote the description of God given by her mother. She waved her parents goodbye and got on the school bus. She sits next to a window beside Riya and takes out the piece of paper.

"So, what's the first one--". Rutu mutters to herself. "--created this earth and all the humans--"

She remembers once seeing this woman with a large belly on the school playground and asking her what was wrong with her. And that woman, just like all other weird adults, laughed at her and then told her that there was a baby inside her stomach. She remembers being scared and asking the woman if she ate it, and then yet again..she laughed even louder and Rutu ran away from her before hearing a fleeting 'no' from behind. She went home and told it to her mom and then her mom explained that all the children come from their mothers stomach and that they don't eat the baby.

When Rutu tried to ask more questions about the baby, Smita said that she had work to do and did not answer any of them.

"So if all humans come from their mothers' belly...does that mean moms are god? Is my mom a god too?". She thinks all stunned and excited at this possibility. How could've her mother created this earth? She thought. So she checks the list, and there it was, 

2. Provides food, water and all the things.

"It is her--" But then the other things? Her mother sometimes punishes her for not behaving herself or other things, but evil? That is bad people, her mother does not punish bad people, only her. She gets upset, but remembers that there was more than one god. So maybe her mother was one of them, and that thought lights her up. So she writes on the paper 'MOTHERS'.

__________

"Now next" she says to herself looking down on the paper. "--He protects us from….wait, why is it 'HE' everywhere?.My mom is a 'SHE' !!". But then she remembers that her house had photos of both boys and girls and gives a sigh of relief. "It shouldn't be only HE everywhere!!". She says frustrated.

"Rutu, what are you doing? Everyone is out of the bus already". Says Riya who's been wondering what was Rutu up to.

"Oh yes, sorry sorry I was just--" She says, lifting her bag and stepping out of the bus. "--doing nothing. Let's go".

They walk into the classroom, start chit chatting with her friends till the teacher enter the class. They have regular periods and recess and then she feels sleepy. It happens every day. Every day after recess all that rutu wants to do is sleep on her comfortable bed. Once she even fell asleep on the bench and her teacher had to woke her up and said "good morning rutu, how was your sleep?" and the whole classroom laughed at her. 

Her attention snaps back at Mrs. Rekha who asks Rutu to recite the table of 5. At first she thinks she won't be able to do it, but when she tries, she knew the table perfectly. And just like that, the school bell rings and it was time to go home.

While Rutu, Riya and Janvi were walking towards the bus, Riya asked her again about what she was doing this morning. Rutu hesitates a bit, but then says, "Today I found out that my mother might be a God. Not only mine but even yours, I mean all moms in the world". A wide smile plastered on her face.

"But my mom is a housekeeper, she cooks and cleans everyday". Says priya.

"And my mom is a farmer like my dad, but she also cooks and cleans everyday". Janvi tells them.

"What is a farmer?" Rutu asks Janhvi, to which she replies. "I don't know, but they call themselves farmers. We have this place near our house where they go, and I go with them sometimes. They grow vegetables and fruits there and bring it home and then sell it".

After thinking deeply in the bus, Rutu realises that her mother only cooks the food which actually Janhvi's parents grow, and she calls them farmers. So she writes again on the paper. FARMER. Maybe Janhvi's mom and dad are also God, she thinks to herself.

__________

She gets up from her seat and goes to sit next to Janhavi and asks, "Do your parents punish evil?"

"No, they only punish me and my brother sometimes". Janvi replies and Rutu sighs and says "same as me".

Just then, the bus stops abruptly, and there was a lot of noise outside. So all the students started peeking outside the window and so did Rutu. There was a big crowd in front of them, and there were sirens blaring. A boy asks the driver about what was happening there. The driver tells him that the police chased and caught a thief. The boy then asks what the white van is. And then he says that if someone is hurt then the van will take them to the hospital to heal and save them  

"TO SAVE THEM" Rutu repeats it and looks at the paper and reads "He helps and saves us and he is the reason we are alive". Of Course she knows what a doctor is. She often accompanies her grandma to the hospital. Though she never liked going to the hospital, sometimes her dad takes her when she is sick, and after taking the medicines that he gives, she feels good again.

"Where are they taking the thief?" Asks the boy again.

"They will put him in jail". Says the driver.

"Why"? Some other boy asks.

"Because he is a bad man and he did a bad thing, so he should be punished otherwise he won't learn his lesson and keep doing such things". Replies the driver.

Rutu catches the word "PUNISHED". And now she has to ask questions. So she says. "Are doctors God"? 

"Haha..you can say that." The driver smiles at Rutu. And Rutu feels so happy and asks him if the policemen were also Gods. The driver replies "maybe" with a thinking face, and then starts the bus.

"Maybe" she repeats and then writes 'DOCTOR' and 'POLICE' on the paper. She looks down and so far she has got Mothers, Farmers, Doctors and Police. And she thinks that there are so many of these people, are all of them God?

___________

When the bus reaches her stop, she says goodbye to her friends and steps out.

When she reaches halfway of the alley she spots a girl and a child sitting on the roadside with some food in a bowl. The woman was wearing a very dirty dress and the child was only wearing a shirt though it was cold outside.

She didn't realise when or how but her eyes were filled with water and she was almost crying. She wanted to do something for them. Give them food, clothes, money or maybe anything else. But she ate her tiffin and she was only wearing her school uniform, though she will have one when she goes home. And she never had money. 

She stands there for a while feeling helpless, in tears. She makes herself walk away from them, but then see's a young woman in a suit approaching the poor girl and the child. She kneels in front of them to talk and after asking some questions she takes out some money and gives it to them. She watches the girl thanking her and then the woman walks towards a big car and drives away.

Rutu is still in tears, but now she was so happy to know that the girl and the child will eat today. "That woman..she helped that girl and child, was she also a God"? She asked herself. 

She heads home with eyes still wet. Her grandmother was sitting on the front porch weaving a sweater. When she sees Rutu and her wet eyes, she gets worried and asks her what happened and why she was crying.

Rutu looks at her grandma and says "Dadi.. I THINK TODAY I MET GOD".

" What?" Her grandmother narrows her eyes confusingly.

"No, I think I met some gods today, I'm yet to meet the others". Rutu says.

"What do you mean Rutu"? Her grandma asks again.

Then Rutu tells her everything that has happened since morning and how she figured out that which people are possibly gods and when she reaches the recent part of the story, her eyes start to fill with water again.

Her grandma hugs her tightly and laughs  

"my dear child, you are so clever and so pure-hearted. That's why I said yesterday, that God lives in your heart. And I am so proud of you and how your mind works. But I need to tell you, all these people you saw today aren't God".

"But--" Rutu says confusing and hurt in a way.

"Yes my little Rutu, you can call them God. But Remember what I told you this morning, when you asked "where God lived"?

And she remembers. Her grandma told her that God lives everywhere and Where there is good there is God.

"Yes, I remember ". She says

"So all these people, the farmers, the police, the mothers, doctors, and that woman you saw, who are they? They are only people, like you and me. We don't really know how God looks or where he actually lives. You are too small to understand it now, but one day you will understand that God might be real or imaginary, God might be various or one. Who knows maybe your mother is a God". She says laughing to herself. "But God is something that we believe in, to keep the good alive in this world. God is something that gives us faith in life".

"Where there is good, there is God. Every person who is trying to make a good difference in this growing world of bad people, is doing a job equal to God. Every mother and father who sacrifices their joy and works so hard for their family has God in them. Every occupation that is weighing the good side of the world has God in it. Even the little puppy playing with those kids on the street has God in him, because he is simply spreading happiness. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the house you live in and all the other things have god in it. Every single thing done with good intentions has god in it. Where there is love, there is God ''.

She looks at Rutu and says, "And look at you, do you know you have God in yourself?"

"Me? How?" Rutu asks innocently.

"You cried when you saw the poor condition of that girl and the child, you wanted to do something for them, it made you so happy to see that they got help at last. Even though you weren't able to help them, you wanted to. And when you will become someone like that woman in the suit, I know you will do everything you can to help them."

"You have God in yourself and God will always exist in moments like this. Moments of happiness. Moments of humanity. Never let anyone or anything tell you any different".

Rutu nods her head and hugs her grandma tightly. They go inside the house and as usual, she does her homework, eats dinner with her family and goes to bed.

__________

Image by Tep Ro from Pixabay 

Maybe not today. Maybe she didn't understand everything her grandmother told her this evening. But some days, months or years from now she will understand exactly what she meant, and what her mother meant. She will get to know more about such people and occupations that have god in them. She will study hard and become someone 

Who won't have to think twice before showing 

Kindness and helping the needy. She will always try to weigh down the good side of the world. And she will always try her best to keep the god in her alive.

But today she only knows that even if she will never see God, he lives in good people and good animals and good things and good intentions and good moments. God might not be a person but she can always find a part of him in them. And she'll cherish this knowledge forever.

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