The nicest thing about having children is that they break it down. They keep it simple. You feel you are losing control, that you haven’t been able to adhere, that you are so all over the place that you can’t really find yourself, or your silences. Sometimes, even a simple ritual like lighting a diya or joining your hands in prayer seems like a formidable task.
It did, to me. And one day, I gave up praying. I packed all my gods and goddesses in a trunk and returned my little mandir to my mother, telling her that it deserved more love than I could possibly offer it. I couldn’t bear that it stared at me every day, and I stared back, not willing or able to do much to engage with it .
And then Re reminded me how simple it all was.
We were in Bangkok, the same time last year. My enthusiastic friend Shilpa had made a list of things to do and sights to see and whipped out a list. “So what would you like to do?”
“Take me to a temple. A really small one,” I said.
So there we were, at the local Erawan temple. Girls and boys with purple hair and blue highlights waltzed in and out. Adorned dancers performed in the background and someone played a really nice looking musical intrument. People offered candles and coconuts, some chatted, some sat on benches, the white noise was reassuring.
I turned around to look for Re who had unhooked himself from my hand. He stood there, praying fervently.
And then I realised how simple it all was. Prayer isn’t thought, and it cannot be taught. It can only be felt, and here was my child, feeling it.
Right now, we are at a friend’s place in Gurgaon, and every morning, as my friend Anu chants, Re quietly sidles up next to her, joins his hands and closes his eyes. He used to do the same thing at my mother’s place too, during her morning pooja. Sometimes, he even asked me to join my hands, close my eyes and sing, “Om jai jagdish”.
Although nowadays, the national anthem is his favourite incantation.