Temple Wisdom – Part III

Read Part I | Part II

A boy, about his height, drifted next to Vik, stared at him and then stared at the closed doors. He had an ill-fitting red shirt on, and a bad haircut. There was something wrong with his eyes, although Vik couldn’t tell what. The boy kept opening and closing his mouth for no reason, as though he were a goldfish.

“Bro-ther, what’s inside… the doors?”, said the boy. Vik was surprised. Did he not even know this!? Vik carefully considered his options. Of course, outright mockery might be out of the question. Mum took a serious exception to frivolity at the temple. A snide remark that would both educate and silence the boy, perhaps? But Vik was too sullen today to bother. And the boy had an earnestness about him that made him curious. He decided to keep it short.

“God. God’s inside”, Vik said. “God”, the boy repeated. A slow smile spread across his lips, and he brought his hands together, but with fingers spread apart, in an improper imitation of how Vik himself held his hands. The boy kept smiling at him. Vik didn’t know what to do. He smiled back.

Mummy heard the exchange, and turned and smiled. She made him give a toffee to the strange boy. The boy smiled even more and broke into a grin. Mum seemed pleased. She patted Vik’s head, and kissed him again.

“Happy Birthday, sweetie.”, Mum said. “You’re a big boy now.”


Temple Wisdom – Part II

Read Part I

At the temple, there were mercifully few people today. No handing toffees to strangers and having them pinch your cheeks. All you had to do was stand dutifully until they opened the doors, put your hands together, bend your head when mummy and daddy did, and it would be over soon. Easier said than done, Vik thought. He gazed at interest with a line of big black ants making their way to some dropped sugar.

Soon, he tired of watching the ants trying to maneuver a particularly big chunk of sugar, and started fidgeting and looking around. It was dawning outside, and cool. All kinds of chirpy, complaining birds were probably being woken up by their own mothers, and the low, undecipherable chants of the priests from other parts of the temple reached him.

In the distance, he saw a snaking line of children making their way towards the temple. Each kid held the shoulders of the one in front of him, as the little stumbling brats of second and third grades did at school. The first graders were too dumb to even know they had to walk in a line, Vik thought. But these ones seemed to be much taller, some even as tall as him.

As the line grew closer, he noticed that their gait seemed strange too. Some were waddling, and others were making laughy, braying noises that Seenu sometimes made. Why were the two misses that walked with them not trying to silence them? They climbed up the steps to the temple, and instinctively seemed to quieten. They broke off into groups of two or three, and started wandering to various corners of the temple and staring at the small statues of the demigods at their respective corners.

Read Part III

Temple Wisdom – Part I

“Wake up, sweetie”, said his mum, and kissed him on the cheek. “We need to be there by six or we miss it”. Vik squinted against the bright fluorescent light, and looked at the clock. There’s still time. He pulled the covers over his head and closed his eyes. Around him, mummy’s morning-kitchen-noises sounded unnatural with the lights on. Dad’s sleepy voice sounded from the next room. “Wake up, Vik”.

“Why don’t they leave me alone today, of all days!”, Vik thought.

It’s not like he was looking forward to today, anyway. Not this year. To begin with, there was the matter of his gift. Vik had been wanting the ‘GI Joe Alpha HQ Base’ action set ever since he saw Amit gloat over his stupid ‘Gung-Ho Helicopter (with Rotating Blades)’. Yes, he was going to show Amit that the HQ Base was much, much cooler. Of course, Daddy had looked at the size of the box, and balked. “Where are you going to keep it, Vik? Why don’t I buy you two GI Joe toys instead, hmm… Gung-Ho and Snake Eyes?”. “No! Amit has Gung Ho, and Snake Eyes doesn’t even have a face!”, Vik had protested. In the end, he had to settle for Gung Ho and Baroness, whom Daddy seemed pretty content to buy for him, even though Mummy had seemed miffed at Daddy afterwards.

That wasn’t the only thing that had made him dread today. Annoying Anu aunty and uncle had visited last week and as usual, put things into mummy’s head that they needn’t have had to. “Oh my, Vik is going to be 13, he’s a big boy now!Are you having a party for him?Our own Neeru stopped having parties at 11.We got him a new pair of jeans he liked, some candy for school, and sent himonhisway.You’re not going to have a party for himareyou,Didi?Organizing them, whatadrag!”, Anu aunty had said in her breathless way. The next day, Gone. The party he had been planning with Kumar and Seenu and Reetu and Amit was gone. No cake, no opening of presents. No showing Amit how much cooler his HQ Base was… all gone. The new matching jeans and shoes were his only consolation. Mummy had convinced Daddy to get him the wheelie shoes in exchange for no party. Vik had sniveled and then finally agreed.

And now they wanted to wake him early, to go stand for hours at a temple until they opened the doors of the sanctum. “Vik, wake up”, dad sounded cross now. Vik grudgingly pulled the covers off and padded to the bathroom.

Read Part II | Part III