Penance


stairs-735995_960_720“Bare your souls, repent your sins and cry your hearts out! Let it all go!”, declared Swami Swaymbu in the most Godly way possible.

“Drop your belongings at my feet. These things are nothing but the dust that cloud your spiritual ways. As your material possessions make their way to those that  deserve them, your worldly worries shall vanish.”, he finished with élan.

As the mesmerized devotees dropped their wallets, jewelry and even property papers into the large bins specifically set up for this purpose, Swayambu turned around and winked at one of his mistresses. His stomach rumbled with hunger but he cheered at the thought of her serving him his favorite meal at the ashram when he was done taking care of the donations. It was a hard days work and these days it was becoming quite a task to convince these educated fools to part with their money! With investigative journalists on the loose and media attention on religious leaders and cults, any religious leader worth his salt would need to tread carefully, leave alone a self made one.

But Swamyambu had been clever enough to never get caught and had accumulated enough wealth to take care of all his needs and had more beautiful mistresses at his service compared to a King’s Harlem!

“All is good.Maybe, this time I can go on that world cruise…”, he thought as he shut his eyes and got into the well rehearsed lotus position which ensured that he would not be disturbed by eager devotees who always wanted his blessings. Nobody disturbed a meditating yogi.

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Swayambu stood alone in a eerily silent and dark world where even the air seemed still.
“Where am I…anybody there?”, he called out.

He looked around him. Was he stranded in mid-air?
“Am I dead? Is this the underworld?” Such tales had been conjured by thieves like himself to dupe others, so it couldn’t be true…could it?

Fear shrouded his being as he began to fall.

“HELP!! Please!”.

Magically, a red stone path appeared under his feet. Relieved, he started walking as fast as his legs would take him. Soon he was running – for some strange reason, heat was emanating from the stones on the pathway crippling his ability to stand or walk. When he looked down, he found raging flames of fire which threatened to swallow him at  as they playfully licked the stones.

“Oh God, please help!”, he cried.

He was sweating profusely,  his feet were burnt and he gasped for breath. He could run no more. Then he spotted them – oh! how beautiful they looked and they were opening.

“The gates of heaven!”, he screamed delirious with delight as he sprinted towards the open gates.

He didn’t know what hit him as he plunged into the fire filled abyss below. The last words he heard before he turned to ash were from the the chuckling voice of the devil

“Bare your soul, repent your sins and cry out loud. Drop at my feet and beg for mercy as you make your way to where you really belong!”

The Devil sure had a sense of humor.

bar_ww_badege

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Mischief gone wrong!


bar_ww_badegeWe were kids in primary school and it was dull afternoon during the summer holidays. We were at our aunts and had run out of ideas to entertain ourselves. While the adults were busy with their afternoon naps, my cousin decided it would be a great idea to go snooping into my aunts closet. I was surprised at her idea – the goody-goody, forever sick child of the family had come up with something daring, but the idea of doing something that our parents had taught us not to, bothered me.

Even before I could think, she was in the closet and turned around, her face full of glee and a small bottle of imported perfume in her hand.

“Just a little dab”, she said  and poured some on herself.

“Your turn!”, she reached out to me. Still unsure about the whole idea, I blocked her hands, sending the contents of the little bottle on all over the carpet.

The little bottle was empty and we smelt like, like something imported! Suddenly, the reality of the situation struck and all that we could think about was our aunt transforming into her monstrous self because someone had touched her precious things from “Amayreeecaa”

As we sat there, trying to think of an escape route, my cousin calmly walked into the bathroom and filled the little bottle with water and returned it into the closet.

“It will be our little secret”, she said. As we slipped out of the room, something inside me told me, I shouldn’t believe her.

Soon, the adults were up from their afternoon siesta and few minutes later there was a lot of screaming! My aunt tore down the stairs wagging her fingers at us and admonishing us for what we had done!

“Now, who did it?? Who had the genius idea to fill water in the perfume bottle? Whoever it was, is going to be punished”, she declared.

Upon hearing the word punishment, my little cousin ran to my aunt and hugged her legs and turned around and pointed at me! The whole incident was effectively pinned on me and of course nobody would ever doubt the sickly goody-goody child! I can still recall my mother admonishing me for something that I had not done and everybody putting me down for days to follow.

It was a terrible summer and I actually looked forward going back to the school I hated so much. I would never forgive her for what she’d done

My relationship changed with my cousin that day. We would never ever be close again. Years passed and anytime we met, we would stop with the exchange of customary greetings. Close to two decades have passed and we both have a child of our own. But we still don’t talk. And when we do, it is still customary.

Linking to the Wordy Wednesday Prompt from Blog-A-Rhythm