A short story about God and His absence

“Believe only what you see and hear” was what he was taught by his science teacher at school. Dismissed by his own colleagues, the science teacher was considered to be an atheist lunatic; but Ram’s young impressionable mind was impressed. He did find it logical that if there is a higher authority, would He be sadist enough to punish us if we don’t bow down in front of Him? would be appreciate the way we shun small-case letters while addressing or referring to “Him” during writing? Does God really exist?

That science teacher who taught 10 year olds to question the authority of God was shown the door soon after many parents complained. It was more of the constant urge to question things invoked by him among the children than the “God issue”. The children would question every ritual, every religious doctrine which bugged the parents. It all led to the ouster of the blasphemous teacher. The Principal fired him immediately since he was an ad-hoc recruitment anyway. But in Ram’s mind, the seeds were sown and they went deep and far.

He grew up to become a man, went through many discussions, countless differences of opinions which sometimes were an inch close to being converted to fistfights. All this had changed him. He became opinionated and argumentative. He thought people who believed in God were morons; taunted his own parents for being ignorant. He was not liked in group meetings. Everyone knew that he could snap any minute and judge people for their religious faith.

This is the story of that one fateful day when he was on his way to work, he saw a car run over a guy! He knew that guy, he had seen him somewhere! Oh yes! He was their local vegetable vendor! His name was Hariya. He ran to his help, called the ambulance, got him admitted in a hospital! Apparently the guy who ran him over was his own brother! It was a property-related issue.

Hariya’s face was annoyingly calm. He had forgiven his brother for the act; Ram went in, stayed there a while and came back. The words that kept ringing in his head were- “I have nothing against my brother, God is great, I hope He makes things better!” “So the task has been left to God?” thought Ram smiling to himself.

Suddenly he saw Hariya’s estranged brother entering the ward; he followed him quickly, sensing something foul. As he entered he saw the brother crying at Hariya’s feet asking for forgiveness! “God will never forgive me! Can you forgive me please? I have sinned and I should be punished! You are great! I went mad, I was mad for money…” and he went on apologizing and weeping.

Ram was watching this family drama only to be sucked into it in the next few minutes! Hariya and his brother’s eyes met Ram’s and they were filled with immense gratitude. “Thank you, sir ji. Thank you for bringing my brother to the hospital. I can never repay your debt!” the brother said. “Oh, it’s fine” Ram said! “I saved Hariya- the vegetable vendor ; but for saving Hariya- your brother- I think you should thank God!”

Ram’s neighbour who had also helped in bringing the patient to the ward and taking care of him was also listening to all this. When Hariya’s brother turned around and marched toward the temple, the neighbour asked- “Hey Ram! Did I just hear you praise God?”

Ram smiled and replied – “I thanked Him but didn’t acknowledge his presence.”

“What’s the difference?” the neighbour asked.

Ram smirked and went away leaving the neighbour pondering all by himself. The neighbour’s face had the same look as the look on the face of Ram’s primary school teacher, after just being fired, 20 years ago.

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