Friday, February 27, 2009
Many years ago, during my formative years, I would tag along with my granny to a Gurudwara for morning prayers and patiently sit through the discourse and hymns, its not that I fully understood any of the hymns that were sung by people inside the Gurudwara, or enjoyed accompanying my granny everyday, actually, my purpose was solely to eat the sweet Prasad that was served at the end of the discourse.
During those years, my granny taught me the importance and power of prayers. “Prayers alone can give us strength to cross any hurdles of life” she would say, “and if we pray hard enough and ask God to fulfill our desires, God shall never disappoint us. But,” she had added, “you must never ask for the impossible or you shall be sorry.”
Therefore, initially my simple prayers included chocolates and hugs and simple things as such which were granted easily, and that stimulated a faith in me. I became more and more greedy, and soon, my desires graduated from possible to impossible, until one day, I prayed for a groom who was a film star.
During those days, Rajesh Khanna (a Bollywood star) was the man I desired and I had tough competition. All the girls, who traveled with me in the school bus, also raved about him and I hated them all. I was holding out for deep romantic love and had a fantasy that this level of passionate intensity would make me happier. I had no clue as to how I could meet him personally and express my desire to marry him. Prayers were my only solace. I prayed to Lord Shiva, starved on Mondays, visited temples and poured one liter of milk on black oval stone and I even kept a special fast called ‘Karva Chauwd’ (that was common with the women, double my age.) Nothing extraordinary about that, every woman I knew-no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure-would feel panic, occasionally with desperation if she found herself unmarried beyond the marriageable age. Higher the age, the more frequent were the fasts, sometimes forcing them to add extra days to try their luck with other deities as well. So my prayer for a groom was neither extraordinary nor impossible.
My desire for Rajesh Khanna had clouded my vision and I could not focus my attention on anything else. I saw all his movies, some of them multiple times I imagined his romantic songs sung just for me. I raged inside them and lived a double emotional life (half real girl, half inhabitant of a distant world). I bought his pictures, from roadside side-stores and stuck them on the last page of my school diary, in my text books, on my room doors. In my diary, below his picture, I had scrawled in neat script ‘My heart belongs to YOU’ and drew two red lips in a pretty hand made sign just below the message. Sometimes, something stirred inside me so much that I would be embarrassed by it. I was in worse academic shape and couldn’t concentrate on any school subjects although many trusted friends had assured me that I’d have a bright future, provided I passed that damn course. And I prayed every hour, every day, in most inventive yoga poses.
But, God had different plans for me, or maybe he was residing on another planet and was unable to hear the loud chimes of the temple bells. Red-eyed, I read the headlines in the local newspaper, one Sunday morning, screaming that Dimple Kapadia had stolen my show. I lingered on his dialogue “Pushpaaaa, I hate tears!” that had graduated from being mere dialogues to evergreen iconic statements! Did he really hate tears? Fresh tears of self-pity had rolled down my smooth skin!
Hahahaahahahaa and Ha! On a second thought….
Was God to answer my prayers that year, I wonder, if I would be related to Akshay Kumar today? Eeeeeeeeeeeeks!!!!
In case you didn’t know, *Rajesh Khanna was the Bollywood super star of early seventies and Akshay kumar is an actor, married to his daughter, Twinkle Khanna*