…….. A Short Story
“Ma, today our teacher told us that God is everywhere …is it true? Then why can’t I see him? And is God a girl or a boy?” asked little Asha, happily sitting on her mother’s lap.
Her mother put her arms around her and told her “Yes, what your teacher told you is right, God is everywhere. God can be seen in goodness. When someone is good to you or helps you or smiles at you, that person is God. God takes care of children because God loves children.”
“Then ma, are you God, because you take care of me?”
As her mother was about to reply, there was a knock on their old broken wooden door that squeaked every time it was opened and closed.
Asha ran to open the door and came back telling her ma that it was Gauri and ran out with her as she usually did at noon after lunch. This was her play time after getting back from school.
Gauri kept pace with Asha as they ran into the nearby woods with gay abandon.
They frolicked, plucked tender leaves from the ground, popped in a few fallen tamarind fruits and talked about the dog that was following them. A little further away, under a gulmohar tree, Asha saw an old woman she had never seen before. The old lady had no teeth, was blind in one eye, had just an old tattered saree wrapped around and seemed to be unaware of her surroundings. Asha and Gauri sat beside her. They sat there for a while without speaking a word. Then suddenly Asha got up, moved around here and there and collected a few gulmohar flowers that were strewn all around, placed them on the old lady’s lap and asked “Do you like flowers? These are for you.”
The bright red and yellow flowers brought a smile on the old lady’s face. She admired them for a while, smelled them, put them back on her lap and then she placed her hands on the heads of both the girls and blessed them.
Both Asha and Gauri then casually walked away.
Later when Asha returned home she told her Ma, “I am very happy today. I met an old lady who was sitting all alone, and you know what? We sat beside her for some time. Then I gathered gulmohar flowers and gave them to her. She then placed her hand on my head and blessed me. She blessed Gauri too.”
“Really, who was she, was anyone there with her, did you ask her for her name?” her ma wanted to know.
“No, but I liked her smile although she had no teeth and her cheeks had gone in. I think she too was God.”
…… By Sudha Mukhopadhyay