By Karan Verma
‘God is riding on his pony across the skies, keeping an eye on every little action of yours, my little child,’ said the old man. What made him rather handsome was his utter lack of physical beauty. The rats had robbed all his teeth from under the pillow but his smile was divine—toothless and without any snarl. He had clouds in his eyes and a sense of nonchalance for everything around him.
The children of the village loved his antics and the little anecdotes he told them so effortlessly. His lack of pretense made the villagers adore him. He loved everybody and had a smile for everybody.
The biggest mysteries and the best hidden secrets in life are those that are omnipresent and glaring at you. The old man was remarkable in a way. He cried your tears and shared your laughter. Enthusiasm perpetuated around him. Yet he was unaffected by anything. He spoke of God but never prayed. Guilt was an emotion unknown to him. The old man appeared to be a cross between a gypsy and a saint. He gurgled with joy, his thoughts were lofty and yet there was a tranquility within him that was beyond the scope of mere mortals.
One of his favorite stories was how he had quietly woken up one night and hidden behind a tree to see God wander into the village, careful not to be identified. ‘He stepped into a puddle and wet his ankles and the pony laughed!’ remarked the old man rather gleefully to the wonderstruck children around him. ‘Then God went into the village temple and sat down in deep despair. Tears trickled down his angelic face and the nearby jungles began to reverberate with the weeping of animals. I guess God too feels sad sometimes,’ the old man mused.
‘Unable to see so beautiful a face cry, I patted God on his shoulder and squeezed his hand gently. The big round benevolent eyes beckoned me to soothe God. I was dumbfounded at the lack of godliness and glimpses of weakness in our creator. We are always praying to him for help. But he too has to fight his own battles! God made man and gave us the earth—a festival of gaiety and colors and springs and watermelons in the desert. And we pay our due by thanking him vociferously through temples and mosques,’ the old man went on rather thoughtfully. ‘Come to think of it, God would have been much happier if we appreciated his world more silently.’ He added a few moments later: ‘When I patted God’s shoulder, pearls of truth fell from his mouth. ‘Religion makes me cry,’ uttered God sadly. He then sat on his pony and rode off into the distant horizon.’
The children and the village folk stared at the old man, envying him for his encounter with God. They too stayed awake in the long nights hoping for a miracle encounter but nothing happened. The old man smiled mischievously. His identity was still a secret. He wondered how the ‘obvious’ obviously escapes our eyes!
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