‘School final exam starts from today. And that brings so much rush’, the priest mumbles.
Currency notes/coins flood the aarti plate and that makes his eyes glint
The temple is full of Teens. They have been calling to me from the small hours of the morning.
I feel tired sitting long and blessing all my devotees. To stretch myself a bit, I come out of my idol and stand beside it unseen.
Demands of students who visit my place today are similar. They implore I must help them crack their exams the way they like.
I smile at them and answer their prayers which they may not hear: ‘let your hard work define your success.’
‘Lord Ganesha, bestow all your blessings only on me. Thanks for the idea you plant on my head. Let it click. I don’t want to get it sucked. All I want is just a pass in the exam. I want only to scrape through. No more or less, sir.’
A voice from the crowd shocks me and throw me into utter confusion.
‘When did I plant an idea on his head? And what the fellow means by it’. I whine, reproaching my inability to understand human minds.
I now gaze at the boy.
He stands before my idol; his head bowed. He is skinny, looks like he is coming from a family of poor means. After a long pause, he begins chanting Ganesh Stotram in a voice that melts him whenever he mentions my multiple names.
The boy – let me call him The Skinny -- is silent for a moment. Holding up his hands towards my idol, he then repeats his plea: ‘Dear god, help me accomplish what I plan. It’s your blessings that will make me surmount all the hurdles coming in my way.’
‘Yes, my boy. I will be with you today and help you remember what you studied’. I mutter, still standing mesmerized by the Stotram he sang a few minutes back.
The exam hall is full of boys and girls. Most of their faces are familiar to me since I met them in the morning at the temple.
I like to stand in the veranda by the side of a big open window. The two sturdy women invigilators deposit themselves on their respective chairs after issuing question papers. They soon begin to doze off while attempting to read a pulp.
I watch the Skinny. He is happy that the two exam supervisors are fast asleep. He then unfolds the folded sleeves of his shirt and reels out bits of papers, all crab notes. Consulting his bits, he writes the answers so fast like a student who studiously studied his lessons.
I shudder. I now understand what he bragged about in the morning. He only wanted me an accomplice to this sinful act. But, I was too naive to understand the hell of his plan.
Soon, I notice a posse of officials from a flying squad buzz along the veranda and land on the hall. The two damsels who get into their feet are scared to the marrow of their bones. The squad dismiss them from the hall and brings in new invigilators.
The boy, too, gets devastated. He seems jolted out of his wits. He hurriedly puts all his bits inside his shirt as soon as he sees the squad. His answer sheet is as blank as his mind.
The rush of students swell in the evening too.
The Skinny scampers into the sanctum in a flash. He looks askance at me. Burning with anger and rage, he is pretty good emotional.
‘You cheat.’ He explodes, throwing his choicest expletives at me. ‘You didn’t help me to do what I wanted. You failed me. I had to abort my plan since there was no blessings from you. You duck your duty when people need you most. You’re a trickster.’ The skinny leaves the temple in a huff, but not before throwing the bits of papers in the temple hundi.
The moment the boy-in-agony leaves my place, another chirpy one appears from nowhere. He is all smiles. He races toward the front yard and starts breaking a sackful of coconuts. When the priest asks him the reason, he looks around and whispers.
‘Thanks to Ganesh Ji, I cracked the test extremely well. When I wrote answers referring to the bundles of papers I carried into the hall, I didn’t get caught. Nor was there any disturbance from the supervising guys. So, now is the time for thanksgiving? Don’t close the temple until I finish off with the last coconut.
The priest grimace.
‘People hate taking responsibilities, but blame god for their failures. That they have such mindsets in this Kali Yuga is not surprising.’ His mawkish monologues continue until he closes the door of the sanctum.
‘Gods have their own Karma that result even from their not doing anything.’ I say to me and laughs.
[The way J. O’Brien writes things are simply awesome. I can’t be frugal with words as he does. I splurge them often. So, a small piece I begin to write ends up writing like a trilogy.]