Ravi is a close friend of mine and somehow religious by nature. So, doing fast came as no surprise to me. He knows that I live alone and at frequent intervals I keep on banging inside his house forcing myself to be The Guest of Honor on dinner. He also is very caring and I thought it was out of his anxiety about my dinner that he asked me this, so that if I too am on Fast he will be mentally relaxed or otherwise he would have kept worrying as to how I am going to have my dinner.
“Ravi ! I have just got up man and till now had nothing! Thanks for reminding me of Shivaratri Thing! I will now think of keeping fast!” I said these words to make him comfortable so that he can enjoy his “Shivratri Fast” without being bothered about my Dinner.
This was the start of my morning on an auspicious day with a Lie. I knew fast is not my cup of tea. I cannot by any means satiate my glutton and somewhat agnostic stomach. Since, I had to console Ravi I said that and while I was saying this, my mind was thinking of what I can cook today for my dinner.
Mind! scrupulous or unscrupulous! It has only one thing to do. Thinking. The more one thinks the more things become complicated. As while talking and thinking I thought of every item on earth that can be cooked for eating, starting from Chicken to Potato, and finally I was even more confused about what to cook for my dinner at night and all this confusion was happening at the time of Breakfast.
Suddenly I realized that I needed breakfast immediately and not the dinner. I rushed outside to bring in some bread to feast my hungry stomach. I realized there are hundreds of Ravis’ outside. Many ladies were having a plate in their hands filled with flowers, fruits, milk and god knows what else.
“Are you on fast”, I heard a lady asking another, while I was passing by them. That became a day of realizations for me and I felt as if it is only I who is not fasting today. “Am I sinning by eating today” I asked myself.
Mind again would have gone in it’s natural thinking way had the Cell Phone have not buzzed. “Bugger, where are you till this time? Are you not supposed to report for the meeting ?” my Boss was shouting loud on me. My Eyes glanced at the watch and again I realized it is already 9:20 AM and I have to be in meeting at Sharp 10:00 at my office. I had to drive for 45 minutes to reach office.
“It seems Lord Shiva went angry even by thoughts of having something in my stomach today,” this was the only thing that my mind could think at that point of time.
I did rush back to my house; house because I have no home; packed myself in my suit and bundled myself with my entire attire and gadgets inside my car.
I reached office late obviously and my boss roared again “Need you be taught to shave before coming to office”? Spontaneously my hand went on my chin and mind started its normal function of thinking “Man, how can you forget to brush your teeth”?
Dry and jejune I came back house at around 7:00 PM itself that day. It was early for me but my mind kept on working and I was surprised to realize that it was working with empty stomach. It was thinking “Lord Shiva is really pleased by my decision of fasting and blessed me to escape unhurt in the meeting and make me leave office early. Lord Shiva is really great and that I should keep fast on every Shivaratri throughout my life.”
“Hallo! Ravi, are you there at home? Buddy, I am also on fast and dropped inside my house with nothing to do. Can I drop in?” I called up Ravi.
“Buddy just hop in. Seems fast has gone heavy in your brain so you are asking this stupid thing”.
“Hey Ratna, do you know, savitri has bought new house a week back. This is her third one. I do not know where is she getting all this money from when her husband is in the similar job as my Ravi”. I heard Ravi’s wife Seema saying this to one of her neighbor friends as soon as I entered his home. A few friends of Seema had gathered at her house after whole days fasting and Seema seemed to be telling this latest breaking news to all her friends though introducing Savitri only.
“Come inside buddy! You know these ladies. Let them talk all stories.” Came Ravi to take me in.
Mind …. !! It again started working. “What a thought after the whole day fast”!
I do not knew the reason but I started feeling uncomfortable there. I thought it was my fast that is making me uncomfortable and so have asked his leave.
“Hey Reema! You know Sangeeta’s boy friend has ditched her and he is dating Lovely these days. Come we will all talk to Sangeeta after the pooja. This will be fun Yaar”! I heard a group of girls talking among themselves while I was strolling to my house from Ravi’s home.
My restlessness grew even more. I thought I am now hungry to the core and should reach home as soon as possible to hit the sack.
“Stupid, Idiot! Didn’t I ask you to bring sugar also? What have you brought instead? Do I need to shout on you always even in my fast?” I heard a house lady bashing her home help.
My restlessness grew even more and I was not able to understand the reason of this restlessness. Suddenly I heard the chime of a bell and realized again that somebody was offering prayer nearby because with the sound of bell some recital of mantra was also going on. I just started feeling a little good then the same voice shouted “Donkey, where is the burning cow- dung? Will you give it to me when I will finish the entire prayer?” and again the mantra started. He was rebuking somebody in between the prayers and he didn’t forgot to keep chiming the bell. I envied his devotion but my restlessness by this time has reached the horizon.
My mind again started its work but this time it was working at the speed of light. It was trying to find out the reason of my restlessness. In the process it recalled something which has been told to me by my Grand Papa. Probably it was restored in the grey area of brain which surfaced as a result of fasting, may be.
“Dear Son, remember always, fasting and prayers are done to cleanse your karma and karma is done through thinking process, speaking process and by the process of physical performance or act. If you can cleanse all these even for one day you will be doing fasting. Because fasting in Sanskrit is called UPWAAS. If you are cleansed in all your acts you will be close to God, and this is the actual meaning of fasting. If you are not eating anything for the entire day and you are doing all mean things this is no fast. This will be simple torture to your body.”
Mind sometimes reaches to some conclusion also. It reached and I took out my cell phone. “Hello, I am calling from Shipra Apartments, please do send me a plate of Paneer Kadhai and four breads. Make it fast, I am felling damn hungry.”
Good Luck …
Utpal Kant Mishra
Delhi; Feb. 28, 2009.