Then there are those steeps which throw doubts in the strongest of the minds. You accelerate harder and harder hoping that the steep will be overcome but eventually realize a small reduction in gear is all it takes to go over that steep. The satisfaction you get as you reach the top, you know its not the mount Everest, but some small portion in your mind tries to convince you that this was the mount Everest.
On the hot summer afternoon I was sitting on the top berth of the train from Delhi to Pune in a very lame attempt to read a Nagraj comic. After about fifteen attempts in making a complete word from the random gibberish that my eyes was seeing, I gave up. For few moments I kept on staring at the fan that was busy trying to grab everyone attention by making noises, it succeed.
Finally, abandoning all hopes I decided to enter the mortal world and started looking for humans to talk too. This berth was very peculiar, opposite me giggling and laughing were two teenage boys from North-East. The berth below me was a family of mother and her two little daughters. And the berth in the passage was occupied by a Buddhist Guru and his true believer. I do not really recall what their names were but I do remember calling the girl Pinky (for she wore a pink dress).
It took me fifteen seconds to understand the common topic of discussion was God, summer and its increasing heat and Wai Wai cup noodles (suggested by the cute little Pinki who insisted she wanted it). I was known to this drill, having traveled the same eighteen hour journey back and forth, it was the same thing all over again. Greet with pleasantries, share conversation, maybe share a delicacy and so on and so forth. None of the journeys were any significant, nothing that would change your life. I was watching little Pinky who was busy helping her younger sister (One year younger) eat wai wai noodles munching them. She looked at me staring at her and offered me her cup. I smiled and politely said no. She got busy eating them.
The mother mentioned that the guru was some high guru in their sect and they were migrating towards their Aashram. The boys mentioned that they were heading to some church to become a missionary. It was as if Harry Potter and Voldemort had finally come face to face in the epic battle in the bogey of S6. There were clashes and clangs (which i only imagined) and a duel of ideologies. I do not recollect what started it exactly, but it was something to with some can opener or wai wai noodles or the summer heat, but something kicked off a debate in the ideologies in that very train. No astrologer in the world could have predicted that in the next few moments, four thousand year of theology would be debunked, raised again and debunked again. I still missed my Nagraj comic. Pinky got busy searching for something in her pink sack which she was carrying. Her sister peeped inside the bag with her.
The duel started off with the guru being Avatar and reincarnation. The boys argued about the all loving God and faith in his son. The cycle of life was debunked with the Holy cross and the holy trinity was destroyed by the chakra of karma. I tried getting into the conversation from time to time, but being a atheist had very less experience of God and all, so had very less knowledge of what they were fighting for. So far the guru had his eyes closed and was pretending to be meditating (wish I had an excuse like that). He slowly opened his eyes and smiled and heads turned towards him. He spoke something in a language I did not know and the mother translated it to us.
"He wants to answer some questions, if you have any..." she said.
The boys started with the guru who was answering them in some language and the mother was translating. This continued for another fifteen twenty minutes and the agitation increased. People walked in and out of our berth and came for a free show. Some people decided to join in the argument for whichever sake.
There were few followers in the same compartment who came to listen to their guru talk. One of them sat next to me, I had watched enough Jackie Chan movies to know that he would be carrying a Katana sword with them, so shifted my position a bit. The conversation reached the peak and I decided it was time to put a foot down. As a precaution against any martial arts punch, I changed the seat and sat on the opposite side.
"Who are we to decide what is right and wrong?" I asked mustering up the courage, yet keeping a lookout for any ninja stars or nunchuks that might come flying by.
"We are all doing the lords work," mentioned the teenager and his friend agreed, "The all loving Father is up there deciding right and wrong. You go to him and all wrong become right..."
"We all are judged," the guru replied, "It is not who you worship, it is what you do in your life," he said (which was translated by the mother)
"Puppy..." quipped the four year old joining our conversation.
The entire birth got silence and all attention turned towards her. Unaware with any of it, she was struggling to remove a purple soft toy from inside her bag. Her pet Dinosaur had his leg stuck under a big coloring book. After a lot of effort she pulled out the soft toy and her coloring book also fell out with it. She hugged the toy and shouted, "Puppy..."
She turned around to see everyone staring at her and was embarrassed. Quickly she made a lame attempt at trying to hide behind her mothers back. Everyone laughed loudly, just like that all the theological disparities had vanished. It didn't matter to her if there was father or reincarnation or anything else as long as she her soft toy with her. Yet again a four thousand year old argument was squashed by a four year old.
In the end it mattered not which side was great or who was right. She had no problem going to heaven or to hell as long as her toy was with her. That little girl in few moments explained the entire cycle of life more than the guru or the boys. The arguments dissolved into thin air, four thousand years of theological disparities vanished, just like that, and the only spiritual experience everyone had was of bliss. Everyone laughed.
This journey was nothing special, it was one of the many necessary trips between Pune and Delhi. It was just a number in the many journeys. You meet many people in these journeys, people who then turn faceless as your destination arrives. Like the ancient city of Atlantis, these memories go away into oblivion and millions of researching years cannot bring them back to surface, however they exist. They exist as a rumor in your memory, as a whisper. I do not remember the guru or how he looked like, I do not remember the boys or how they looked like. I do not remember Pinky or her real name, but I do remember her cute 'Puppy' that changed the entire course of the journey.
Journeys begin and journeys end. The entire lifetime of a human being is spend on innovative attempts of reaching the destination from the source. The source and the destination changes according to time. The journey remains the same. But then there is one journey that suddenly comes along and changes the destination for countless future journeys that follow.
Disclaimer: This post is submitted for the Mahindra XUV500 challenge by Indiblogger. The details of the journey are as accurate as I can remember them.