The bronze bell awoke the Gods' hunger. The Neivedhya(offering) was served even before the Gods could feel that hunger. A small bowl full of rice- steaming hot with dhal and ghee and fruits. The Arti to indicate the Gods are now well-fed and are happy enough to bless one with impractical boons. As though the Gods could listen. The new arrival there was- the Spatika Linga. It did cost a fortune! Not to forget the rituals performed to welcome the Linga home. It was costlier. The hope it brought in the home, was however, even more precious. It made him forget all about money. All the rituals that took his money and energy! Hope- made him forget everything else.
Divyam was a man who had lost all hopes, long back. He believed his life's sole purpose now was to serve his mother till she breathes her last and serve the Gods till he breathes his last. All his ambition to succeed and achieve were lost three years ago, when he lost all his belongings to the share-game. Stocks too, were like Gods. They could give. But they could take it all away too. He now knew why he loved the Shares! But it was in the past. The future had no dreams of it. The hopes could not enter into their house all these years. But this was because of something else. Something, unexpected.
Pranav- Divyam's younger brother, met with an untimely death. No one had expected it. He worked in a Nationalized bank. There was an accident. All of Divyam's savings went into Pranav's medical expences. The worst part was Pranav's passing away when their mother was alive! Devki had been a strong woman, raising the boys, all alone, educating them. But she was old too. And Pranav was too young to die. And Divyam, too young to loose everything! She could not bear it. She was shattered and her health diminished. She took refuge in her husband's old radio. And Divyam, in the idols of Gods.
Everyday, Divyam would wake up, bathe. And work on the idols. Take them off their abode. Clean them. Clean them until the bronze sparkled like gold! Then he would bathe the Gods in water, milk, sandal, turmeric and all auspicious things. Wipe them clean. Pray in front of them. Bribe them with Rice, ghee and dhal. And everyday- his prayer was this-"One day, there should be a new day. And that day, I would have more money than I would ever have. Then I would have a life, once more".
People who became involved with Gods, never ever get tired of them. Bhola baba of the Neem Tree fame to Chandi Baba from
He had a reason to believe in it. Since Pranav's death happened when he was employed in a bank, Devki wrote to the bank in which he was working. Since Pranav was the only bread-winner of the family, she had requested them for compensation. They had even replied back that her request was under consideration and that she would hear further soon. And this was why, the hope returned to their home. This was why Divyam prayed. Every single day.
Lata's melifluous voice was beginning to take an effect. Divyam felt drowsy. It was noon and he was in his usual retreat- the balcony, reading the news. The Stock update. There could still be money. He could start all over again. Devki could be happy, again. The doorbell rang. Divyam went to get it. Mr. Mishra was at the door. Divyam invited him in.
Mishra was the one who helped him in his earlier days. He taught Divyam- the trade. He was now a retired man. But he remained to be a well- wisher. Mishra had a reason to come to Divyam's home that day.
"You remember Ram? The boy who used to come around you day and night"? asked Mishra.
"Oh yes Mishraji. Young boy! Very enthusiastic about learning things", replied Divyam.
"Oh, now he's no young! Become a Seth!", and they both started laughing.
Mishra continued once the laughter subsided- "Look Divyam! I'm telling this for you good. Stop all the fuss. If you want, I'll help you with the capital. This Ram, he's starting something new. I'll talk to him about you. He respects me. He won't deny.. You can invest in his venture.. I'm sure- that's going to be a huge business.. What say"?
Divyam appeared to be in deep thought. Mishra continued, "Divyam! Leave all that has happened! There is no use holding on to a dead bull's tail! Leave it. Ram is a good guy. I'll give you some money. Come by my home tomorrow..."
"Mishraji," Divyam interrupted, "it is kind of you. But you very well know that I won't accept your money. But of the offer, I'll consider. Mother has written to the bank.. Once we hear from them.."
Mishra looked into Divyam's eyes. Those used to be a winner's eyes. Time had strange way of playing games. It also had a very bad sense of humour, thought Mishra to himself. Divyam was like a son to him. And he would do anything to help him. See him get out of this mess.
The Spatika Linga glowed each day, after all the washing and cleaning. But still, it was not showing its powers.
That day, was however a different day. The letter from bank had finally arrived! Divyam's hand was trembling with joy. But Devki adviced him to keep it at the foot of the Spatika Linga and open the letter only at the auspicious hour of the day. Afterall, all their hope was in that letter! Divyam did as he was told. Divyam and Devki had food. Devki tuned into the old radio and they were listening to the melodies of the yester years, as they were waiting for the auspicious hour to come. They both fell asleep.
"There was light. Like that which came from gold. Yellow. It was coming near and near". Suddenly, there was a clock ticking and indicating that it was almost four in the evening. Divyam woke up. Devki was still asleep. Divyam washed his face, and tried to wake his mother.
It was the thirteenth day after Devki's death. All the guests were gone. All the money was gone. But rituals were rituals. They must be done at any cost! And they were done. Divyam was sitting alone, in the balcony. All through those thirteen days, he had not for one day thought about what would happen after this day. His hope.. Hope.. Hope?
He suddenly remembered the letter! He rushed to the Spatika Linga. Took the letter. Opened and began reading it:
Dear Mrs. Devki Sharma,
Please do accept our heart-felt condolences on your son's demise. Mr. Pranav Sharma was a sincere and hard-working officer and a real asset to the bank. The scheme for compassionate appointment, is not there in the bank any longer. However, keeping the economic hardship faced by your family, it has been decided by the top management committee, as a special case, without creating precedence to allow an ex-gratia payment of Rupees Ten Lakhs to you.
To claim the same, please fill in the attached form and forward your signature, duely attested. Upon verifying your signature, the amount would be provided to you, in due course.
The Spatika Langa, still, sparkled as ever!