God And Madmen
Time and again I see people thanking God for their accomplishments and seeking help to deal with their assumed bad luck that they think is endowed upon them by him. They are constantly ranting like a child does to its father. Things like these do not bother me, but I believe that the moment has come for me to separate my body from the god-fearing man that I have for so long, in front of the mass of the so called ‘wise men’ and let my mind be preoccupied with the ideas of God for nearly a decade. These are but mere thoughts of a man, who a pack of wise men would call a madman. So allow me to share some incidents that occurred in my life and gave birth to a novel perception of God.
February 25, 2002. My family decided to go to Ahmedabad to attend a function at my Uncle’s house. I was six then and I was overjoyed.
February 26, 2002. We got ready to leave for Ahmedabad and reached the station. All of a sudden my father realized that he had forgotten to lock the house. So he asked us to wait for him, and by the time he arrived, the train had departed. We made plans to go to Ahmedabad the very next day.
February 27, 2002. Televisions and Radios were bursting with the news of a burnt train. Newspapers showed images of burnt bodies hanging from the windows of the burnt coaches. Some godsmen, who were believed in the same God that I believed in, had burned three coaches of Sabarmati Express. Fifty eight lives were lost as per today’s toll. We cancelled our plans to go to Ahmedabad.
February 28, 2002. Fear was in the air. A riot had started. Men believing in the same God as the 58 lost lives believed, got angry and campaigned for vengeance by killing other men who believed in the same God that I believed in. Our telephone rang at approximately 12:00 noon. Tears trickled down my father’s eyes and my mother let out a cry of anguish. My uncle was killed by men of God. His family however, had escaped and at present day, they live in a rehabilitation camp.
March 2, 2002. News aired that men of God, dressed in saffron tunics, swords in their hands, matchboxes in their pockets, cans of kerosene with them, chanting the name of God when God himself resided in their hearts, marched towards our locality. Most of my brothers, as my religious books say, had fled to a village or some place where they could be safe, without leaving any trails of their existence. We had our relatives only in the big cities, and the conditions there were far worse. We decided to stay and wait for death instead. We ate nothing the entire day, for our stomachs were filled with fear. My parents would not let any of us to get out of sight.
Time and again I saw tears drip down my mother’s eyes. My father was murmuring some prayers continuously as we sat huddled up together. Men of the other Gods too chanted the name of God like my father did. Who was the rightful God? I questioned myself. No one came, no one killed us, and rather than searching for logical answers, I considered it a divine intervention. I believed that it was my God, who rightful as he was, saved me. This belief however, expired as I grew up. I came to know that the butchers living in my locality were blood thirsty and that the men of God loved their lives. As the Idea of ‘divine intervention’ shattered, this novel piece of intelligence gave rise to a new idea about God in my mind and after constant interpretation, exploration, learning, and negotiation, I realized that God existed but he does not dictate what is to become of a man in the next second. He has left us, the humans, free to our will. He gifted us with an impeccable brain. I realized that my father did not pray to God, but he prayed to his own self to give him hope that his family shall see the next day. We all pray to ourselves without realizing that we have prayed to ourselves. What would have happened if my father hadn’t forgotten to lock the house and we hadn’t missed the train?
God gifts us nothing, nor does he snatch anything away from us. It is just that everything runs its course. This realization engulfed me with its gleam, I ran into the streets and laughed as the wise men used the term ‘mad man’ for me. How ignorant are they, for they have no idea, who is mad and who is enlightened.
-Ahsan Raza | Edited by Aditi Dhasmana