A Holy Gathering

In his silk kurta, and smooth long hair, the wise man looked a picture of elegance, perched atop a raised platform. Open before him was the holiest of the holy books. Eyes gliding fast through the pages, lips moving inaudibly, he was reading the message of God for the benefit of all the rich, unenlightened beings sitting in front of him on the floor.

The people gathered for this three-day long holy event had duly marked their presence to the almighty with drops of currency notes, and now sat folding their hands, and closing their eyes, in anticipation of divine rewards. A huge speaker behind them blared pious chants up into the morning sky making sure the God heard.

Amid all this, no one, except the man reading, noticed when a small curly-haired boy walked stealthily in. Excitement rippling across his face, his eyes were searching all around the decorated courtyard, until they fell on the table at the foot of the platform. The table on top of which sat the tray piled high with money. His eyes lit up, and he immediately started towards it, tiptoeing on his small feet, increasing, with each of his steps, the furrows on the wise man’s shining forehead.

Once there, the boy looked at the tray, and then up into the eyes glaring down at him, signalling him to go away. But he remained unmoved. He stuck his tongue out at the man, unafraid, and plunged behind the table to hide.

The man watched him huddled there for some time, mumbling his verses distractedly, until the kid finally got restless, and sprang back up suddenly, banging his shoulder into the table. The ornate oil lamp at the corner lurched and toppled straight into the kindling of crisp notes, and with a whoosh the whole pile went up in flames.

Everyone jumped to their feet, and began running around. One sari-clad old woman tripped badly over the amplifier cord, killing the music in the process. Only shouts were heard now. Of fear, and of commands. Someone with the presence of mind yanked up a strip of the thick rug from the floor and dashed towards the fire, as another did with a bottle of water. But before anyone could reach, the wise man himself had jumped down from his high seat, and was already swatting the burning notes with his bare hands.

Others took over, thanking him profusely, as he stepped back, eyes glued to the smouldering treasure littered all around the table. He was watching, flexing his singed fingers when the owner of the house rushed up to him and whisked him away to an adjoining room for first aid. The crowd stood behind, part horrified at this ominous disruption and part amazed at the brave act of the man.

An hour or so later, the owner went back to the man who seemed to have slipped into a meditative trance, oblivious of the anxious people waiting outside. Touching his feet, he apologized yet again, and requested him to resume the holy proceedings.

The man slowly opened his eyes.

“Did you find the boy?” he asked, a muscle twitching almost imperceptibly in his jaws.

“No, guruji. The poor child must be scared. Hiding somewhere. Let’s forget about him,” the owner said. “I have something else for you.” He leaned closer, and whispered into his ear.

Moments later, to everyone’s relief, the man came back and took his seat behind the holy book. A new gilded tray had been placed, this time nearer his feet, and people had been instructed to call out their attendance again.

The crowd began moving in a single file, clutching the currency notes of even higher denominations to quickly pacify the God, as the man recommenced his mute recitation, looking pleased. The diamond ring on the middle finger of his right hand, acquired just recently, caught the light from the chandelier above, as he turned over another sacred page glorifying detachment and renunciation.

The boy stood in the back of the yard, unseen, watching it all, as people bowed before the man, touched his feet, and deposited the money in the tray. Someone behind him replugged the cord, and the song of invocation burst out again, chanting the hundred-and-eight names of the God.

But the boy was no longer there.

Sundaram Chauhan

Image Source: Behance on pinterest

44 comments

  1. A story has a background, circumstances and characters. A writer writes his story and the people tells him what they think of their story.

    “The holy gathering” is very well written regarding above rules. I enjoyed it and I can relate with it. If I was a painter, I could make a beautiful picture on it.

    A child is innocent. His eyes are open and heart is pure. He can see the world more clearer than his elders. We should have heart like children. A child like imagination is very powerful and beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant writing Sundaram. You had me hooked from the start. So very well you have highlighted the issue where we blindly follow things without even thinking once. We are more of god fearing than god loving. Loved the overall thought behind this post.

    There’s a quote I have read somewhere which this post reminds me ‘I have got nothing against God. It’s his fanclub I can’t stand.’

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nice. The fanclub. Loved it. And you said it all there: God fearing. The people who are not that are busy instilling that fear in us. Perhaps they believe in God’s non-judgmental nature more than we do. And they take due advantage of it. Thanks Yeshu for reading. :))

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such brilliant work this is!! You have a skill of exactly painting the picture of truth with words and yet not really saying ‘it’. I could as if ‘see’ the eyes and expressions of all the characters – the boy, the holy man, the house owner and the attending people. Such greed, innocence and blind faith makes up a good chunk of our society. It was a thrilling read throughout, that gave me an undercurrent of sadness.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for this beautiful appreciation, Pragalbha. You brightened up my day. Such scenes are so commonplace now that we rarely give them a thought. We pay our dues, and go home without questioning. Thanks for engaging in the discussion. :))

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wowser! I have read this now 3 times now and each time I see something a bit new to focus on..You have told (so well told) a story of religious hypocrisy, in a supposedly holy setting, with a “holy man” who wears a shiny diamond on his finger, and who was ready, if he could find him, take out his anger on a small boy who tipped over the lantern by accident. He was not going to invite him to dinner, put a hand on his shoulder and explain how he should be more careful, kiss the top of his head and forgive him, No! His face twitched with revenge and really, it was the owner of the house who acted more holy, when he told the “holy man” to let it go..And helped him let it go.by promising bigger bills if he continued..so sadly, the owner’s good moment was short-lived. How amazing that no one saw that the gurujji burned his hands for greed not for heroism.. Everyone in this story was blinded to the fact, that this holy gathering lacked holiness. You, my talented friend, held your readers enthralled while you wove this sad tale, we can see play out in any religious or political gathering that is not really, what it says it is!! Wonderful story Sundaram from the first word to the last.🌹💐🌺🌟

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Indeed, a relationship with God has never been about money, or how loud we can worship. It had always been about spending time with God and showing love to each other.

    Thank you got this intelligently written reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sandy! This came ALIVE in my head! I’m visual person and the short movie my mind made as I read you was Oscar worthy 🥰

    Are you alluding to the idea that the boy is God himself/herself? That’s what I felt. In the corrupted and depraved world we find ourselves in currently, even if God were to come, pat our shoulders and introduce him/herself as God, we would laugh it off! Worse we would end up banishing or imprisoning him/her!

    Have you read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov? There’s this BEAUTIFUL chapter called The Inquisition where Jesus comes to Earth and he is rudely awakened to the fact that people worship the Church not Him. That the Church is in power, not his holy words…where the Bible is just a book no one cares to read, let alone follow. And worse, the Church asks Him to prove He is Jesus and then throws Him into prison to hang by death for committing blasphemy. One of the most enlightening words I have ever read. And it is SO VERY TRUE! Imagine the Church saying they don’t need Jesus anymore!

    Your words are a reminder that humanity is reaching its final dregs. It’s even difficult to believe in humanity anymore. People wear their religion like our soul wears the body as a cover, forgetting that it was never the religion we were supposed to worship. We have sold our souls to the devil; meaning power and money and the rest of the vices…and brandish our bodies as our true selves…oh what have we come to???

    Thank you for this Oscar worthy performance…err post. Bravo Sandy! 🙇🏽‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make me wanna keep writing things. Thanks. I expected you to see that the boy was the God. I knew you’d see. It’s plain if you read with that much love. Thanks. I was almost feeling I did it wrong.
      The Brothers Karamazov: it’s been on my reading list for long. Highly recommended by so many. But its too long. But I know I’ll read it now, coz you’ve mentioned it. :))
      Off the topic, have you read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand? If not, I think you’ll like it. Try it. What more, its a classic! Your domain.
      Thanks for stopping by girl. Appreciate your time… take care…:)) and keep recommending books.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh you did it right! People expect God to show up in purple regalia with white unicorns, holding maces la di la…you get the drift, all the while He/She is right there in front of us in all the Good that’s happening around us. So your perception and perspective are on point!

        On Dostoevsky or any classic for that matter, I would suggest Patience. Be very patient while you read them. Most are LONG! Some longer than we would like them to be. And you won’t like every classic. Just like I didn’t like Anna Karenina, which I read right after War and Peace. Both by Tolstoy but Anna didn’t work for me. Although if you ask my sis, she would say War and Peace was bleh!
        She would fight and die for Shakespeare but I find reading verse like watching a peach tree and sitting under its shade to drop in apples into my mouth. I LOVE Dostoevsky because his works have few characters and their life arcs are quite close to our times and most exceptional is that he delves DEEEEEP into the minds of the men and women he writes about. Their incessant thoughts, their thought processes is just mind blasting! If you want a smaller one to start on Dostoevsky, start with Crime and Punishment. It’s delicious!!!

        Fountainhead is the WALL for me. I keep stopping at a point…I have never been able to finish it. Ayn Rand feels like a lot of ramblings to me. And one thing that never allowed me to go further is that I find the character of Howard Rowark too PERFECT to exist. In a creative field, it’s impossible to be like him. I know. I tried. 10 years later I had to quit. He was just one of those characters I was angry with! So much so that he even ended up on a favorite painting I painted years ago. The dichotomy and irony of life I say!!!

        If you want to read something exceptional yet small reads as compared to Brothers Karamazov, read the following list:

        Gabriel Garcia Marquez: One hundred years of solitude and Love in the time of cholera( Magical realism and obviously love)

        George Orwell: Animal farm and 1984( how govts and politics are so intertwined with the evolution and destruction of humanity)

        Somerset Maugham: Of human bondage(about complex human relationships)

        Oscar Wilde: The picture of Dorian gray ( Vanity!)

        Jack London: The call of the wild( if you love dogs)

        M. Scott Peck: The road less traveled ( psychology)

        If you own a Kindle, you get some really amazing deals with the old classics. Looks like no one reads them anymore. I got 50 classics for 77/- once and another 50 for free!!! IMAGINE!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I do have a kindle. Yes. Where did you get those deals?
        Animal Farm & 1984: I’ve read both. Animal Farm is a favorite.
        Dorian Gray: Liked it. I remember having looked up all the precious stones it mentions somewhere in the beginning. The whole idea made me want to explore Oscar Wilde more. Yet to do that, though. I time I will.
        Noted down others.
        Howard Rowark: Yes. The character was impractical for his sheer doggedness, and literally no weakness. He was more like a super hero. He gave hope, though. But I liked the other characters as well. The woman. The antagonist. Read it years ago. Would visit back someday and see if it still speaks to me. But as you said, not all classics work for everyone.
        It’s Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment then that I’ll start will.
        Thanks so much!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Animal farm is my favourite too! And after Dorian Grey I went hurriedly to Amazon to purchase every book Oscar Wilde wrote. To my horror, Dorian was his only Novel! If ever I have wept for the death of a man I didn’t even know personally, it’s Wilde. If ever I get to go back in time, I would so love to go meet him. His English made me fall in love with everything about English. To date I haven’t read anyone else who held my interest in every way possible: Language, prose, style, beauty…

        Liked by 2 people

  7. What a beautiful story, Sundaram. I have no idea how I missed this! I love your stories and I get drawn to them like a moth to a flame! I couldn’t stop reading it and even shooed my little one away so I could finish it!… hehehehe… Please keep these stories coming. Stay blessed! ♥🌹

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Benjamin. I’m doing well, yes, thanks. :)) And its really reassuring to hear you say that about my writing. Wish you loads and loads of inspiration. Keep being awesome.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s