Office turned a nightmare. I was delinked from every sensible work being carried out there. A kind lady in the personnel department, Mrs.Fernandes took pity on me and gave me this idea of charismatic meditation. A Christian priest was regularly conducting such camps and if I had the inclination, I could attend one of his introductory sessions. If interested, I could stay on for the full session. People who were unwell had shown remarkable improvement after attending charismatic revival. Dramatic recoveries too were not uncommon. People irrespective of religion and background got benefited. I couldn’t rejoice more and I enrolled myself as a camper. One of the mission-run high schools was the venue. The crowd consisted of both young and old almost in equal measures. Women were in majority. The camp leader was a singer-priest who handled the keyboards with ease. Unfortunately, his talks were a drag though he sprinkled a liberal quantity of wits over the audience. The main theme of his lectures failed to impress me. It was repeated many times over.
Believe…believe …or be damned. You guys are horrible sinners indulging even in incest. Look, fire of the hell is waiting for you…
He was getting on my nerves. Hell’s inferno didn’t scare me at all. Significantly, it never crossed my mind that I was a sinner. But the leader was in no mood to stop. He would convince the world at the top of his voice that we were damned. After ten minutes of vilification, he would break into singing beautifully tuned hymns and we were supposed to join. The chorus was indeed a great experience and I wished the entire session consisted only of group singing. I turned a rebel of sorts and wore the identity card with its reverse side on display. The I-card with the name of the person and place of accommodation was to be worn always. Mine had a strange inscription on it,
ON THE ROCKS
I boycotted the morning session and read newspapers. A fat woman was giving Bharatanatyam lessons in one of the classrooms and I encroached into their privacy and stood there staring. The organizers of the charismatic camp didn’t take my antics very lightly. One evening as I was walking through the front yard, someone shot a football on my back at tremendous force. It pained like hell but I raised the victory sign, turned back to give them a grin and strode ahead. The priest was giving a dissertation on evil spirits. They did exist, he asserted. I didn’t have an iota of doubt, either. I had a feeling that I was surrounded by evil spirits. Even the priest himself was an evil spirit. His composed face had been used as a mask by the devil. In oriental magic, there is a technique called kooduvittu koodumaral. The occultist takes a subtle form and enters into another person’s live body for a short duration after leaving his original body lying in state. Devil had been using this method extensively and that was the reason why we see devilish elements under benign faces. Who could imagine the devil masquerading as a priest? The devil was sure to have penetrated into the whole system by the body-snatching route. The devil was omnipresent. I was overwhelmed by fear. It was quite possible that people who were sleeping near to me in the room might endanger my life. The mosquito repellent that they kept beside my bed might contain deadly poisonous substance to maim me for life. I ran out in a jiffy. The open space of the football field beckoned me. Raising my eyes skywards, I broke down. Tears jerked out breaking all barriers of defense. I didn’t think of the sufferings in my life. The thoughts ceased to exist for a moment.
The revival camp was in doldrums. The final day programmes had been called off. The priest never ventured outside his room. In spite of all my mischief, an elderly nun was very kind to me. She was particular that I received the blessings and had put the Eucharistic on my tongue after the prayer session(kurbana). I was reluctant to move forward, but she waited.
I wrote a long letter to the priest. We had disagreed on several counts and I thought my views, especially on god, could shake him off his follies.
Love is god
Selflessness is god
Humility is god
Courage is god
You are God.
You are God.
I knocked gently on the door. The priest was inside but there wasn’t any response. After a while, I slipped the manuscript into the room and bid adieu quietly.
My condition deteriorated very badly after attending the charismatic revival. Evil spirits surrounded me on all sides. My neighbours and sub-engineer Pathan were not the only ones. Everybody around me was a devil. The world was no more a safe place. I remembered an old practice of my village. Mustard seeds were spread around to ward off evil. I would resort to the old method to counter yet another attack. I reviewed the situation from the balcony and found an unnatural movement at a distance, approximately two furlongs away. I was not mistaken. The devil was visible to me but he was without a form. He might be under the impression that if he were formless, it would be impossible for me to recognize him. The fool didn’t know that I had the expertise to identify him with or without form.
I challenged the devil.
I don’t give a damn about you.
I touched the tip of my nose with my right thumb and spread my other four fingers. A conversation between the devil and me started in sign language. People who walked past stopped for a second to watch the drama being staged at the first floor balcony. They were either disinterested in a lunatic or didn’t have the time to gaze at him. An old Muslim man who had his hair and beard bizarrely dyed and eyes lined wanted to have a ringside view of the spectacle. He squatted at the side of the road itself. As soon as I had the first glimpse of him, a lightning flashed across. The formless devil adopted the shape as a strange looking Muslim and had moved in closer. He was obviously taking the fight to my doorstep. My senses were put to maximum alert.
The final combat was on.
The final combat was on.
Don’t ever think that you can defeat me. You’re never going to win.
I shouted at the old man. Actually, he was enjoying my madness. I retreated into my room and closed the door to balcony. I jumped over the bed and looked out through the window.
Yes, he was. The plan was to surround me from all sides. What the heck! Who is bothered? As long as Shiv Nair was in my room, nobody could do me a fig. Standing firm on the bed, I resumed conversation with the devil. The bugger seemed to be in a belligerent mood. I had all my ire directed against him. My feet grew strong and there was the irresistible urge to do a graveyard dance over him. I started tandava on the bed. Just below the window, the employees of the fuel pump raised their head with the usual abandon to have a glimpse of the dancing man. Their interest was not sustained beyond a moment and they retreated to their work.