God Helps?

A short story by Jay Vikram

There once lived a woman called Rupa. She lived with her family beside a dump yard. There was a tree in front of the dump yard. It was a big tree on the footpath beside the main road, left by the mercy of the city municipality while they cleared the rest of the jungle and built buildings, roads, and footpath around it. By birth, Rupa and her family belonged to a community that was given the opportunity, with no other option, of cleaning the dirt and sweeping the litter of society. But Rupa’s husband somehow got a job in a public school and worked as a school bus conductor. The couple was looked up in their community as somebody who could be something more than a sweeper. But one day Rupa’s husband came home early. He was drunk. He was never drunk in the daytime before. It was the first time but not the last. Her husband had lost his job.

Rupa cried at his loss. At their loss. Her husband slapped her and asked her to stop crying. She ran out of the house and went crying at the tree. She never asked him why he lost the job but she asked God why he did this to them. An old mendicant passing by saw Rupa crying. He came close to her and put his hand on her head. she turned around and saw the monk offering her a banana. As she took the banana the mendicant walked away saying,

“Don’t worry child, God will help!”

“which God should I pray to?” she asked.

Listening to her innocence the mendicant took out an old damaged idol of ‘Kali’ from his old bag and gave it to her.

“you have to pour milk on the statue while chanting Gayatri mantra and light an oil lamp in front of it at every dusk and dawn,” the priestess said.

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“Until when should I do it?” asked Rupa.

“until you have problems,” said the mendicant. “But keep it in a clean place,” he continued.

From that morning she started her rituals as told by the mendicant. At every dusk and dawn, in those two peak rush hours, people passing by the main road in their cars or on their foot looked at Rupa pouring milk and lighting a small oil lamp in front of her little idol and praying under the big tree at the main road. Some laughed and some just observed her everyday passing by the tree. When Rupa came home her child asked for milk but she had none. In the evening the family asked how the cooking oil is finished but she said nothing. In her deep belief, she sacrificed the milk and the oil on the statue every dusk and dawn.

A month passed but her depressed drunk husband couldn’t get a job. But one day Rupa’s four-year-old child fell sick. Helpless once again she didn’t know what to do. She had no help, no money. Her husband hit her again out of his frustration and she ran to the tree. As she fell over her idol crying, she saw a few coins and currency notes near it. The money had just appeared near the idol. She wiped her tears and thanked her statue and took her child to a local doctor. With that money, she paid the doctor fees and bought some medicine for her child.

‘’The child is not being properly fed,’’ said the doctor.

“Okay,” said Rupa.

“Feed him some milk, it is a complete diet for a four-year-old!” yelled the doctor.

But Rupa didn’t listen and went on pouring milk on the statue with her sister every dusk and dawn. A few months passed but her husband didn’t get any job. All other men in the family were working as janitors and sweepers but he did not want to do that as he was once a bus conductor! So, he drank the whole day and slept the whole night. Rupa somehow worked with the little money her little idol provided her. For Rupa, it was a miracle but her husband understood that this was the money of people who wanted to pay gratitude to God. One day, some thought struck him. The next morning her husband bought a bigger and better idol of ‘Kali’ and placed it under the tree.

“where is my idol?” Rupa asked her husband.

“where it belongs! In the dump yard” said her husband.

“But that was my God. It saved us, it provided for us all this time,” she said.

“There is no God! There are no miracles,” he replied.

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From that morning the same rituals were performed on a bigger and a better idol. Soon, the money doubled as the other souls started stopping by to pray in despair.

“But until when I have to do it,” asks Rupa.

“Until we have problems,” yells Rupa’s husband.

“But problems will always be there,” says Rupa.

“Then you will pray for all your life!” yells her husband.

Rupa doesn’t question her husband but Rupa wonders what happened to her once hard-working happy go, lucky husband. However, her belief is only getting stronger in God. It was yet another dawn. Rupa went to pray to her idol and perform her daily ‘holy’ ritual. A few government officials arrived with a JCB. A public toilet had to be built next to the tree on the main road. As the contractor arrived, the officers discussed the plan.

As the officers left, the construction of the public toilet began. From that day Rupa had to keep an extra eye on her idol and the money collected around it. But the contractor had something else in mind. To save money on trained laborers, the contractor offered jobs to a few men of Rupa’s family and her neighbors. Five men from the family and neighbor agreed and went to do the job offered, but Rupa’s husband denied. The wound of losing a job and getting humiliated in public was still fresh in his memories. He chose to sit idle, drink, and think about life. But behind Rupa’s back, he was working. He influenced the five men to bring some construction material to build walls around the idol under the tree. In the day, they worked on the public toilet and at night they helped Rupa’s husband to build a wall around the idol under the tree.

A few mornings later, Rupa and her husband celebrated the brand-new brick room built around her idol. But the government officials came to know of the discrepancy and decided to bring down the temple and the tree to teach them a lesson. The next dawn, they arrived at the tree and prepared for demolition. But as the JCB bulldozer moved forward, Rupa stood in front of the walls and declined to step away. In no time, a rampant crowd of sweepers emerged around the idol. The officials had to stop but they will be back again. Its only government who can steal.

A lawyer passing by the premise saw the crowd through his car window and told what he saw to his real estate client the same evening.

“We had our eyes on that zone for a long time,” said the real estate client.

The lawyer fought the case for the Community to keep their temple.

“It’s not about the land! Rather it’s about the belief and customs of common people of the country!” claimed the lawyer.

The lawyer won the case, got famous, and the real estate firm now buys houses of those naïve poor class plebeians at cheap rates and sells them at a higher price. But Roopa and her family are safe as they are going to keep the temple running. The temple in front of a dump yard. The temple next to a public toilet. The idol has grown up in size. It is now a life-size statue of Kali. Being built on the main road, the temple gets a lot of attention from all the rush hour passing from dusk to dawn. She also receives funds from private business firms to put their advertisement on the walls. No man from her family or her neighbor goes out to sweep the roads and clean the filth of the city anymore. Now they all join Rupa’s husband and drink merrily all day and gamble all night. Recently, her son got curious and stole some whiskey from his father. The neighbor women of Rupa keep the temple clean and make sure the milk is poured on the statue and oil lamps are lit every dusk and dawn. Rupa handles the keys to the gate of her small little temple. To add to the stunt, Rupa’s husband added a word to the temple’s name. Now it is called an “Ancient Kali temple” that fulfills all wishes of Rupa. 

God does help!

About Jay Vikram –

Jay Vikram is an author who writes poems and novels based on his research on realism and philosophy of action (karma). He has also authored research and technical articles. Thus, as a professional researcher, he spends his passion for researching anthropology, and natural theology. His writing style is witty and aims to tantalize the subconscious through strings of humor.