What do you say when someone asks you, do you have faith? One could easily curl up a lip, slit out a shrieky and aghast cry, 'of course! I do.' Most people would do that. I would do that to. But this one occassion made me doubt my answer. Before the sub-consciously conditioned response neared my lips, the thought dissolved before it even rose from my throat. Fact is, I'd be lying in saying I had faith. I had none.
Growing up in a middle class Punjabi household, to liberal yet spiritual and God fearing parents, my chldhood has had uncounted visits to the Gurudwara. When I was born, when I turned a new leaf, weddings, funerals, each time a new addition was made to the family - material or man, in loss, in happiness, I turned six in the Gurudwara where all who knew of me - some familiar, some unseen and some very close faces - sat and prayed a happy life for me, complete with a royal entourage that filled the sidewalks and outer skirts of the white marbeled Sector 8 Gurudwara - the neighbourhood I grew up in. Maharaja of Patiala with his beaming begum made their presence felt as did people of prominence in Chandigarh and Malwa Punjab. I was the blessed one.
Close to about two decades later, the dome of eternal bliss sits disembled in my heart. I fear the almighty. I talk to him in my hour of need, I call out to him when in pain - self loathed or otherwise. I chant. My perfectly animated schooling in Carmel Convent, the city's most prestigious school, has instilled values of the church and the Holy Bible in me. And there was a time when I believed in a Heaven grander than this life. Even visited the corridors of a saint, who took to his thrown in all richness and splendour. The one who smelt of roses, granted invisible rosy trailed darshans and was royally driven in a bee line of never-ending cars.
The path of self righteousness and moral science has created a laboratory in my being. Till I learnt how to distance myself from the temple and God. I questioned doubted everything. The need to be independant, alone and somewhat materialistic, I confess, made the concept of worship uncool. When it happened or why I did it, I honestly don't remember. But I know it flew from me. I'd love to say the spirit of God hushed and quitened. That would be erronous. To quiten would be to lower the volume and let whispers slowly creep into your ear. I simply turned the switch off. I silenced him. His will in me dimmed. It was as if someone reached out and pulled the plug of the universe for black night to creep. Just... And I sinned.
Some years later, I find a new restlessness. Years have passed and this noise rings in my ear often. Visions pass the iris of my eye every now and then and I have this newfound need to drink in the sights and sounds. I have become spongebob, applogies to the Nickelodeon patent. There are words on a passing truck, visions on a tattoo on the back of a friend, whispers of chanting in the distance - sometimes I feel I am hearing them out of memory, in the motions of the clouds on a dreary sky, on the traces of leaves made on a lazy mid afternoon from the bedroom window, from amongst the theros of people clanking their religious instruments from a passing train, hidden in songs you've heard all your life and now are astutely aware of, in clubs, late night drives and movie halls ripped through the hands of a DJ or music designer, in books and stories that now line the racks of my house, in the eyes, lips, fingers, rings, chains of people on the trains, taxis and roads. And on visits and travels to distant lands that brings back floods of azaan (The Middle East), sunday mass (Venezualla) and even morning martial arts (Kerala).
I feel I'm returning to the seed of my existence and have learnt through the traumas and joyous moments that perspective is a luxury when your head is constantly buzzing with a swarm of demons. And I wonder, if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night. This is my call from a bedroom on a second floor of a heated pyxexia, located somehwere in a Christian society of suburban Mumbai. Thank you Nana. I know it is you with me.