Thursday, November 6, 2014

The best thing about keeping a diary is reading it.

I wrote this on 29.07.2014, part of this virtual journal I always forget to keep. I reread what I've written so far a lot, it's like some sort of weird self-obsession. I like (and hate) how everything I write falls into cliché in retrospect. This is one of my favourite days. It was the day before I left for Hyderabad, feels like a world apart.


It is sinking in, finally, this feeling I can neither fully understand nor even begin to describe. It’s unreal. Like waking up early on one of the annual gathering days, getting dressed and hurrying to school at dawn - so far off from the routine, it might as well not be happening. It’s like every early Diwali morning, or a late night stay-up waiting for Baba to come home from his trips. The only permanent proof that it exists is a wrapped up memory that won't fully unravel until it repeats itself. The only proofs that I have of Hyderabad actually happening are my packed up bags, a flimsy letter that says I got into a university. Aai in all her bee-like busyness seems quite unable to understand the sheer gravity of this… this move. There. I said it. I acknowledged the unreality of me going away. I know what you're thinking and I hope you are right. 
Let all my drama be unnecessary, I can hope.

This afternoon I stocked up on another strange incident that feels improbable now that it's in the past. Me at a temple.

Today we went to Kasba Ganpati Mandir, Aai and I, to hell with the rain. It’s a beautiful place, a quintessential cold-stony temple – unlike Sarasbaug which I don’t like – and here’s what I prayed for:

The courage to make a choice, a decision, and the strength to stick to it. A man in front of me held his ears and did a bunch of sit ups, asking for forgiveness, perhaps? And that reminded me not to beg for it. So I asked for non-forgiveness, for the sum total of all my faults and misgivings to weigh on me and keep me in line. I asked for the ability to help me be myself, and to help me help myself.

It was a good, complicated prayer. It went in circles that seemed to make sense at the moment.

And then I looked at the people around me and I wondered if they really were happier by doing all of that. Did setting themselves at the foot of an interesting shapeless Ganesh idol really make their lives better? Were they more successful, more satisfied knowing they’d eaten a holy prasad? Did they not have fathers who suddenly died, or exams they failed to pass? 
So much self-pity. I need lessons in empathy.

Where does happiness come from really? Doesn't it come from the inside? Do you need to go to a temple to find it? Or is it more complex than my scepticism allows me to assume? Can God reach in and touch that inside that not all of us can find, like - a half-baked metaphor is happening here - kindling a fire there. You can rub two stones on each other all you want, but a matchstick, if you happen upon it, really will do you good. So why not use it - when it may be right there? Maybe God is your matchstick. 

I'm rambling.

But I suppose "He" can be a helping hand. Belonging to someone who isn't a neighbour or a friend or a colleague, someone who won't tell on you or judge you or refuse outright to help you - so you won't feel guilty asking him for help. It's not wrong to ask for help, is it? 

(And if you're asking for help from someone mighty and powerful and one who has all these whims (I'm thinking of Olympians, the Greeks really knew what Gods were all about) you are better off having something ready in return, just in case, if only a few rhyming lines of cowardice.)

Also, the place has roots. Aai tells me it was the temple Baba went to to pray, when he lived there, when he was still young enough to vehemently believe. I like the histories of places and that's a sort of connection with him I'm unlikely to forge again, he being no more and everything.

Maybe I need to visit temples more often. Maybe I will.

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