It was quite late. I had settled down in bed, tugged my blanket with one hand and secured my book in the other. The phone rang. This hour I thought, “Hope no one left the planet.”
“Namaste can I speak to Punditji, “a quivering voice said.
“Namaste it’s Pundit, How can I help you.”
“It’s my Mum, she is very ill in hospital; the doctors say she is quite bad”.
“I am so sorry to hear that, hope she is not in pain.”
“No! I don’t know, we want to do a Gaudaan (offer charity to a good course) now, can you come and assist us.”
“Yes I will be there don’t worry. “
An elderly man met me in the parking lot and beckoned me to follow him. We exchanged greetings and swiftly walked down the empty corridors.
A young lady came up to me,” I had called you – here is mum,” she pointed to a lady who was breathing through a ventilator. “This is my brother; she said and introduced me to a balding middle aged man.
Nothing had prepared me for what I was going to see and hear. I asked him to come forward to assist in the prayer. He hesitated and looked at a lady standing beside him. She firmly shook her head gesturing to him that he couldn’t participate in the prayer. His sister immediately said, “He has converted.”
I replied, “GOD IS ONE – you can still pray – after all it’s your mother.”
The sister said – “Yes! “Looking at her brother expecting him to agree.
“No! “He mumbled eyes darting towards the lady standing beside him.
“Never mind, it’s ok,” I said, turning to the sister, “you can do the prayer.”
As I drove back home, I wandered what type of God would ask you to forsake your own mother. What are some institutions teaching their congregations? When you give up a religious ideology, do you also give up your family? Can you replace your mother? When she needs you most, you forsake her .This is done to please God, I was told .It was claimed that “Our God gets angry if we pray in a different way” .I know now that when one is helpless even your own can forsake you. This is even justified in the name of some God. I certainly do not want to know such a God. I guess the choices we make; we got to live with them. Two hours after the gaudaan prayer the mother passed away.