I am no stranger to miracles. Nor have they ever seemed strange to me. Not the day the slight drizzle swelled into a downpour the precise moment I stepped under the protective shield of my house, as if it had been waiting for me to be out of its way. Not when the microphone had fallen flat in its duty to amplify my voice and thus brought the naturally deep husky quality of my voice to the notice of the organisers of the elocution contest. They handed me an offer for the Sunday sermon job moments later. Not when the five year old me had fallen into the steel bucket immersed with the heating rod and was rescued by the half-blind nanny of my childhood playmate. She was amazingly sure-armed that day for a woman who had battled a bout of arthritic malice the previous night.
As a child born to believers in faith, it was not unnatural for me to follow in the laid footsteps with hands joined in supplication. Contrary to popular contention, my indulgence in science in the later years only built solid storeys upon this faith. Einstein’s words “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” resonated in my being like a talisman. Both the scientific community and the plaza of laymen believe that everything began with the Big Bang. But what set the ball rolling? Who scooped so much energy and matter into the hot snowball that formed the kernels in our Universe? We might never explore the full expanse of the Universe. Does it have framework limits? If yes, where lies the doorstep, and where lies the backyard? What lies beyond the haven? Heaven and hell will remain more than just fairytale fantasies or mythical mentions till the time these questions unfold before us on a notepad bound by strands of logic. Indeed, the unanswered, seemingly untouchable questions shaped my reverence for the Almighty.
My first generation Delhiite status is rooted in the late 1970s, when my father came to Delhi as a UPSC aspirant. In the Lord Krishna temple foregrounded in the back waters of Kerala, my grandmother and aunts had beseeched for divine guiding light for the path that lay ahead for their lad of twenty something, unintroduced to the world outside barriered by the gorges of language and culture. In the dark boarding hour, at the train station, there stood on the platform a man in his early thirties, forming with a companion a revolving human fence around some luggage. The man happened to be a long forgotten acquaintance. His accompaniment was his brother-in-law who was also on the list to traverse the great South to North journey. Unlike the lanky young man my father was back then, this man was settled, anchored in the Capital. The seat numbers on their tickets brought to them a chill, a refreshing one that succeeds anxiety and precedes calmed nerves. Ever since, the odd occurrence of 11 and 13 together in any manner has brought a smile to dad’s face. It has been more than three decades in the roundabouts of Delhi for dad now. Yet, that contact made in his prime, clinched by the prime numbered train seats, remains our closest circle of camaraderie.
Oftentimes, God set the groundwork for miracles in the offing, much in advance. Such was the clockwork precision, that when the miracle did play out, it appeared but a fitting cog in the scheme of things. Much like parents do, God corrected faults of mine, in time, with subtle reprimands. Hours before a solo classical singing performance, I was caught crooning a fast number.
“Concentrate on the song to be sung,” said my dad.
“I’m on a break. Will singing this make me forget the solo?” I had thrown back.
In the tiny hall with an assembly line audience, my clutch on the microphone was slipping on the perspiration. The lyrics rang in my head. The tune eluded me. I had blacked out on a song that had been on my tongue since my sixth year. The lesson was simple – to give nothing less than single-minded devotion to the task at hand. My endeavour has remained, ever since, to apply that lesson received a leaf away from the classroom in everything that demands the investment of heard work and the heart. I fear, had it not been for that slight in my tweens, greater disasters would have struck later on.
If checks came in frequently, there came balance in the form of overwhelming encouragement.
“It is very difficult to change this world armed just with the idealism of youth. Moral corruption has no inoculation,” I ranted in my fortnightly speech at the discursive space in college. The country was athwart with scams and scandals that could not be brought down with a few sandals thrown at the debauchery-mongers. “God save the country.” I shook my head. Later that evening, I stood with dad next to our new car.
“It has an inbuilt stereo system. Get a CD from the rack. Let’s check it out,” dad said. I walked in, absent-minded. Not a gizmo-aficionado I am. I pulled the glass doors to the CD rack apart and yanked out a CD by its plastic cover edge. Crooning a blockbusting number, I waltzed to the car.
“Put it in,” said dad.
A button was pushed, a rack was ejected. In went the CD, like any other. The response was loyally prompt, like that of any other CD. The awe elicited was unlike any other feeling. There in the snug tight ambiance of the car, wafted the soothing beats of our favorite song on Lord Krishna. The hundred an eighth song on the MP3 on shuffle mode, ringing out from a random pick out of three hundred CDs strewn on a teenager’s shelf rack! My pause froze goosebumps on my skin when, in the faint sepia glow from above, seemed to crawl out of a divine blue glass frame onto the dashboard, a toddler Krishna, cherubic and playful. If an electronic equipment with no master other than science has danced to the tunes of commands from above, what are human grievances arising from volatile indeterminate actions?
Any rational mind could clarify the occurrence with a perfectly logical explanation. After all, some song or the other has to sound out of a player on shuffle. The phenomenon does not seem all that dizzy if the tune is thought of as just another melody on the multi-melody churner. And that, I think is from where the debate derives its dichotomy. A turnaround recovery from broken to perfectly psyches, a mind that can conceive the depth of the ocean and express it with the use of limited alphabets, six billion individualities, distinct enough for the courts to decide that replication of thought written in the same succession of words is plagiarism … for a race that has come to refute the probability of coincidences, is it not too much of a coincidence that the grind continues day after day, seemingly without wands commanded by visible hands? God is that supreme force that we cannot fathom.
Going against the vagaries of oppressive religious precincts is no doubt inevitable for social change. But logic commands us to tread with caution when hanging religion and God on the same peg.