Not yet at terms

I’m expecting two friends over today… well two of Tushar’s friends really. Our lives have merged together so much over the past seven years that they’re all Tushar’s friends now and all I have is a merlin.
As I was saying… we’re having two friends over today and I hope to spend the weekend mimicking my earlier life, which was avoiding reality using mild intoxication.
Which is hard now. I went to a friend’s house yesterday, for work. And after I was done, he urged me to hang about. This was the hardest hanging about I’ve done in a while.
I kept thinking: For what? What do we do now? Do you have an itinerary? HOW ARE WE GOING TO HANG AROUND DOING NOTHING? WE HAVE TO HAVE A LIST OF THINGS TO DO WHILE HANGING ABOUT.
The tension rose with every minute and he finally had to order his big dog to sit on me stop the struggling as he forced a nervine tonic down my throat and then we were all right.
Except that the dog started talking to me. Which is not the problem because I’m good with languages. He started speaking in konkani, which reminded me of my dead grandmother, and all the wonderfully violent things she would say. E.g. Say you’re ill. Really ill. And insist on going to work/school/college. To that my grandma would say: Baghte kashe zaate. Tangdach todun thevin. (We’ll see how you go. I’ll just break your legs so you can’t move).
Or if you misbehaved, she’d threaten to hang you upside down from the fan and smoke red chillies under you.
My favourite was when you’d get hurt, she’s light a ghee lamp, singe a cotton ball and press it to the wound.
I think the problem is this: I don’t have a plan for the afterlife.
We didn’t have a very religious upbringing and just made stuff along as we went. The broad concept was that when you died, you went to God. I don’t know what you did with God and how you’d even talk to a guy you’d spent a lifetime worrying about looking over your shoulder. It wasn’t unlike being called to the principal’s office. You’d sit there, across a large desk on chair from where your feet couldn’t reach the ground, while he went around his business of seeing what everyone was up to.
Maybe he’d look up and ask me the tables beyond 5 and then in my afterlife, I would actually have to learn all of them instead of just adding together like I did in exams.
At some point they told me about going through the entire cycle of births for even the slightest fuck up and I realised I could not win. If I’m going to have to go through the entire evolutionary cycle (from single cell organism to the wonder that is man) for blaming the mess on my brother, nirvana was a long long long time ahead.
I spent the last two years of school in a convent and got interested in Christianity, mainly because they had more fun. They had society sanctioned ball which allowed close interaction with boys, *hip names like Rita and Rosie, did the jive and wore frocks all the time. I started going to church and talking to the priest, who gave me a copy of the Bible. I skipped past all the confusing chapters to the Revelations, because everyone knows the Revelations are the important bit? That’s what the movies say.
So the sinners go to hell and the god fearing go to heaven, which are clearly different in landscaping and entertainment.
But they specified parameters for sinners and I was in the clear, except that they didn’t mention anything about non-paos. I asked my friend, who pointed downwards and waved bye-bye. There was not much choice there. Even though the Revelations freaked the hell out of me to the point that I started praying fervently to Mary mid-reading, there was no way my parents were going to allow me to convert. I was 14 and parental approval was crucial seeing how they could just change my school and freedom of reading.
Then there were some inputs from Theosophists and Buddhists about the different planes and how the soul advances through these levels by shedding negative baggage.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven says each of us creates a heaven for ourselves to wait out eternity or the time till the next shuffle. That is probably the least convincing version of the afterlife
In adulthood, I settled for generic cynicism. You die, don’t pass Go, head for the white light and if you have strong feelings about afterlife, you’ll see St Peter, or a few virgins (or at least technically virgins), or the bare desert you have to cross with only your own faith. If you are low on belief, you’ll see painted backdrops, pulleys and ropes and some giggly girls in long dresses that must be a bitch to keep clean.
You may not meet your friends, your dogs, your relatives.
My grandmother was a Tuesdays-Thursdays-Shravan vegetarian, fasting-on-the-right-days kind of Hindu. According to a more graphic description, she’s hanging-upside down over a canyon, waiting for her descendants to hurry up and bear children so that she can be reborn.
So in my case, she’s upside-down, ranting and threatening to break my legs if I don’t get knocked up. Not very different from what she did here. At least the view is different.

*To be honest, the attraction to those names was more a part of my pre-10 years.


6 thoughts on “Not yet at terms

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