Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall! T. SHER SINGH
Who is the Bestest of Us All?
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Chatting with a friend yesterday, our conversation turned to religion. Though he is of a different faith, we are both genuinely curious about each other’s belief systems, both personal and institutional.
His remarks are always thought-provoking and I always walk away both more hungry and more satisfied.
Yesterday, our conversation drifted briefly into a new area, touching on how each faith develops its own culture of exclusivity, and we marvelled -- with some amusement, I might add -- how different groups have their unique ways of claiming to be extra special.
Particularly in the eyes of God Himself!
We call ourselves Children of God. The Pure Ones. The Chosen Ones. God’s Warriors. God’s Own …
The permutations and combinations are many.
Though we didn’t linger long on the subject, my own thoughts did … off and on, through the day.
It took me back to my childhood.
There were three of us children at home then: my two sisters and I. The youngest two -- the fourth and fifth -- had still not been dreamed off.
I am the eldest and I would’ve been almost six years old then. Davinder, the next one, was about four. Sunder, the youngest of the trio, about two.
Sunday mornings were lazy ones. My father’s store would be closed. Therefore, it was the one morning in the week when he wouldn’t bounce out of bed and be a pest by tearing around the apartment, waking every one up, throwing tired cliches at anyone who would listen -- or not -- about the merits of waking up early, of doing exercise …
The three of us -- even little Sunder -- already knew how to finish the sentence when he sang, “Early to bed, early to rise …!”
Sunday mornings were different. He’d want to sleep in a bit, before the whole household got into gurdwara mode -- polishing ourselves up and getting into our Sunday best to head off to Takht Patna Sahib an hour’s drive away.
But the three of us had our own plans.
We’d make a bee-line for our parents’ bed. Biji would already be out in the kitchen … I think it was the clatter emanating from therein that first woke us up! Pita ji -- that’s what we called him then -- or Papa! would still be in bed, fast asleep.
We’d collectively snuggle up next to him, curling up under his arms, or nudge him, push him, prod him, until he moved and altered his position so that we could fit into little caves of warmth.
He liked it as much as we did. He made soft little comfort noises, amidst our giggles, and then would settle on his back, his arms somehow managing to collect the three of us in his bear embrace. A few minutes of pure bliss … and then …
And then, little Sunder would crawl up the mound that was his belly, perch herself atop it with legs on either side and start playing with his beard. Her fingers would pry open his lips and play on them. He would comply with musical sounds.
That would get her excited. She would start bouncing on the tummy, shouting “I love you, I love you!”
“I love you too,” Papa would respond.
“I love you lots,” she would squeal.
“I love you lots, too,” he would say.
All of this did not go well with Davinder, wonderfully good-natured though she was even then. She would emerge from her lair, assess the situation for a bit, and then lean over and push Sunder off. Davinder would be up, atop the tummy before Sunder could recover her centre of gravity and try and clamber back.
“And do you love me, Papa?” Davinder would shout, and bounce to mark the rhythm of song.
“I love you, too, beta,” he would say, with one hand placating a rambunctious Sunder fretting on the side and, with the other, making sure Davinder didn’t lose her balance.
“No, Papa, don’t you love me more?” Davinder demanded.
“Yes, I love you so-o-o much, beta, I really do!” exclaimed Papa.
“No, Papa,” Davinder would be screaming now, encouraged by the sulk that had suddenly appeared on Sunder’s face. “Don’t you love me the most?”
Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!
Papa would begin to moan in pain -- after all, Davinder was a healthy and round four!
“Of course, of course, I love you the most, beta! Now, get off, please!” cried the hostage.
“More than Sunder?” shouted Davinder.
“Yes, I love you more, Beta …”
I would be sitting up by this time, watching the whole scene. And I didn’t like where Davinder was taking things.
I lunged forward, knocked her off so that she fell in a pile on top of Sunder on the other side, and captured the hill, all in one swoop.
I made myself comfortable and began to show that I could bounce even higher.
“But, you love me the mostest, don’t you, Papa?“ I screamed.
He was in agony by this time, and all he could do was nod his head, as he struggled with the three of us.
“Tell me, tell me!” I shouted, “Don’t you love me the mostest?” I wanted Davinder and Sunder to take note.
“Yes, yes, beta,” he groaned, “I love you the mostest!”
“And the bestest?”
BOUNCE! BOUNCE! BOUNCE!
“Yes, the bestest!”
By this time it was total mayhem. There were arms and legs entangled everywhere. Squeals and screams, of joy and pain.
To calm us down, one by one, Papa had to assure each one of us, separately, out of earshot of the others, that he indeed loved each the most, nay, the mostest, nay, the bestest, before we were whisked off by Mum or a servant for a bath.
Thus each of us, every Sunday morning, was smug in the knowledge that we were loved endlessly, with no holds barred.
My thoughts automatically go to those Sunday mornings every time I hear anyone claim that his religion or his people are the dearest to God.
I have no quarrel with them, because I know they -- each of them -- is right!
It is true!
God loves each one of us the mostest, the bestest. No matter which religion we profess. Or don’t.
Yes, the Chosen People are truly the chosen people. The Children of God are truly the children of God. The Pure Ones are truly the purest ones.
None of the claimants are lying.
And no, God isn’t a liar either.
He’s just like Papa. When face to face with any one, every one He gives His all.
There’s nothing wrong with the arithmetic.
That’s what I-N-F-I-N-I-T-Y means, doesn't it?.
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), October 18, 2012, 4:51 PM.
What a blissful picture of an early heaven. Looks like you all had the prepaid to talk to God directly as a free local call. And, "bahurh pitaa gal laavai" [GGS:624.17] - "How he hugs his children in his warm embrace."
2: Aryeh Leib (Israel), October 23, 2012, 4:36 AM.
A Hasisdic story comes to mind, involving an anonymous communal rabbi who's hearing both sides of a dispute between two congregants. The first gives over his story. Through the partially-open door of the study, the rabbi's wife hears her husband say, "If this is what truly happened, you're absolutely correct." An hour later the second party to the dispute arrives, and presents his version of the events. The rabbi tells him, "According to what I'm hearing, you're absolutely correct." After the second disputant has left, the rebbetzin confronts her husband. "I heard what you said; how can they BOTH be right?" to which the rabbi responded, "And you, my dear wife, are also - absolutely correct!"