Bright cool day. The sun has decided to come out on time after days of gloom. Hurricane Sandy has passed. No, Montréal was unharmed though it rained heavily.
Padmesh, made his coffee. A typical Black and Dekker coffee machine. The usual "it's not the type of coffee that one makes in South India" twitch of the lips. Coffee nevertheless. The 3.5% Québon and the 3 spoons of sugar. The size of the cup would however, make the South Indian quiver. The 12oz café du lait versus the "nooru milli" kaapi.
He strutted slowly to the living room planning his day. Ah yes, Anand's first hockey game of the season. Today at 9:30 am. Have to leave home anywhere between 8:30 and 8:45 am. Lucky it is Sunday, not much traffic this morning. What about church goers? Ah well, it is remembrance day today, would that be a cause for traffic on the Autoroute?
The music system started. Padmesh slowly ejected Justin Bieber from the carousel and placed Maharajapuram Santhanam on it. He gave a looked at Anand's room wondering if Anand has woken up for "the game". Why does everything have to be reminded? Wake up before the game, put back all the played music inside their covers... the list goes on.
The room filled with the strains of the Taanpura. Padmesh could see the sound waves leaving the speakers taking every cubic inch of air in the room. And then it reached his ears. It was as if the day began a long time back. "Nagu momu gana leni, Naa jaali thelisi.....". Abheri.
Oh lord with the smiling face, look at my pitiable state and come forthwith to protect me.
Padmesh wondered when was the last time he visited his family deity. His Thatha, Anantha, told him the story of how he had changed family deities out of mere convenience. The grand ChakrathAzhwar of Karisuzhndhamangalam on the banks of the Tamraparani, Tirunelveli district. The place known for many people as much as the Pattamadai Paays. Of course the old bamboo mats have now been retired for the plastic mats. And so was ChakrathAzhwar replaced for Venkatachalapathi of Tirumala.
"Why is it so difficult to see him?", Padmesh asked his Paati 10 years ago. Paati said, "The trek to Tirumala is tough because the Lord wants to challenge your devotion to him". "Paati, it is not the trek that irritates. What irritates is the unnecessary queuing, the bribery, the pushing, the shoving and the swearing one has to endure to see the Almighty. Why can't it come with mental peace?", Padmesh retorted.
Paati said, "The Lord challenges in various forms. When you are in trouble, don't you think of him? Does he come to you or not? Isn't the trek to the malai just a small way to expressing one's devotion?"
Padmesh laughed. For a engineer from I.I.T in Chennai, Paati's words were like those of a loser. "Paati, God is there everywhere, he loves everyone, one need not suffer to show one's devotion for him. If we are honest and good to our near and dear, he will help us in trouble withdrawing from the goodness we have deposited in our banks."
"Naga Raaju Dhara needu ..." Santhanam does bring out the life of music. "Oh lord, you lifted the mountain and helped shelter the needy. Can you not show mercy on me?" Sometimes, Padmesh wondered, does God turn a blind eye to good samaritans? Why does one have to ask for help to receive it? Isn't God always on the good side? And if one is good, isn't one on the most comfortable path? Like Tendulkar on Wankhede, Srikkanth on the M.A.Chidambaram? Gionta in the Bell Center? Ali in the ring?
Coffee done. Krittika tapped him on his back. "Time to get the car around. Anand has brushed his teeth and is eating his breakfast. Eat before you get to the car." Aha! that boy? Wonder why he didn't need to be reminded of the game. All by himself? Boy, he is interested.
Padmesh walked to the kitchen sink. Rinsing his coffee cup, he looked at Anand. "All ready?". "Yes Appa. Before you could remind." "Fantastic! Remember win or lose, score a goal or not, offence or defence, play as a team and earn a good name. Only a good name can take you far." "Seri Appa." "And yes, don't ask the coach for jersey numbers or positions. Oh yes, don't hurt yourself. It's just a game". "Seri Appa".
Autoroute 15 North. Clear road, The signage says. "fluide. conduisez prudemment" (clear, drive safe). The weather is cloudy starting to drizzle very lightly. Padmesh looked at his watch. Well on time for the game. As the car merged into Autoroute 40, Padmesh took the middle lane and gave way to a few trailers on both sides of the lane.
The lady in the Mazda did not know where Padmesh was going. She didn't even know there was a car to her right. A missed blind spot.
As she swerved from the left-most lane to make an exit, she took Padmesh, Anand and the entire family with her, initially hitting the car on the front left, then swerving and hitting the car head on while taking both he cars to the shoulder before hitting the barrier and coming to a screeching halt. All within 5 seconds.
Padmesh looked around to see if the family was well. Thank god he exclaimed. Then he looked at the watch. There is no way Anand is playing his game today. He picked up the phone and dialled 911. Within 2 minutes, an emergency vehicle came and placed fire sticks. The ambulance arrived and asked if all are well. The police came by and began doing his job. Crash, boom, bang, and then fireworks. Happy Diwali!, thought Padmesh.
Nagumomu was still running in his mind.
"Khaga raju nee aanathi vini vega chanaledho". Didn't your vehicle, the Garuda, double his speed at your behest? Anand was twitching nervously about his game. Padmesh said "Anand, looks like it is not possible".
Then there was a call. Turns out Rylan, the neighbour was taking his son to the same game. He called wondering if it were us in the crash on the Autoroute. And offered to pick Anand in the next 5 minutes.
Whew, Anand taken care of. Padmesh was now talking to the tow-men as they placed the Mazda onto the truck and ringed Padmesh's car. "How far?". "30 mins from here". Surely miss the game, thought Padmesh.
All done. Padmesh reached home in 2 hours time. Anand was on a high after the 6-2 win with 2 goals in his belt. The coach called home and after enquiring about the safety of all, showered encomium on the exemplary teamwork displayed by Anand and how Anand is an asset to the team. Padmesh was happy.
Then Padmesh asked Anand. "What did Rylan say?". Appa, I thanked him for offering to pick me up. He said that is what good neighbours are for and also added "There are so many times things go right that we never bother to think about what it would be if they went wrong. At those times how good we have been to others comes of help".
Padmesh wondered. Did Garuda arrive when needed most? Does the Lord love his subjects in priority? Or is what we call GOD simply being a good samaritan?