Ma Luvoozia – Part IV
Continued from Part III
So in the course of a conversation Ma’s lips would twitch and pout in a sudden flush of wickedness. The eyes would glint like a pick-pocket’s blade. The arms would cross in the manner of a Bollywood don’s female sidekick. And the voice would strain at the leash of hard-rehearsed saintly tones and abruptly rise to the old gravelly register of her days as a street quarreler.
The harder she aspired to become the universal mother, the cosmic Ma, the bigger – and more fragile – grew her ego. Soon she picked on Tuesdays and Fridays to be the all-feeding Ma. After she had offered the prasad to the metal deities in her home-temple, it was fed, by a set of devotees elected for the day, to little girls. The girls, who were brought from a neighboring slum, would be made to queue up and wait outside the gate. Very poor and unwashed girls were not qualified to receive the charity and would be chased away. The girls who came to be fed would often have skipped school for two spoonfuls of sweet charity.
Ma’s pride ballooned with every inch of dignity she stole from the little girls.
‘Don’t forget, you eat our bread,’ she sniped one day at a young woman who worked in a college run by her family’s relics. The festering ulcer of Ma’s pride had come to a head. The young woman, who had come seething with rage to report allergy to the principal’s spidery hands, spat out, ‘Huh! Bread-giver! You don’t qualify to be even pissed on your white head.’ She kicked open the door of Ma’s temple-office and walked out. Bamboozled Luvoozia, having been an early school dropout, called up devotee after devotee to find out what the angry young woman had meant.
She did not tell anybody where her quest for enlightenment had ended.
Ma liked to believe she was the bread-giver to all those over whom she has some sort of power. She liked to believe that nobody knew her entire family actually fed off the institutions run by them as trustees. The truth was even the kitchen taps, light bulbs and pencils in her home had been pilfered from schools and colleges. When, after her husband’s death, she became the president of the governing body of a college, a charitably inclined man living in the United States offered to donate ten thousand dollars. He wanted a block of class rooms to be added to the college building in memory of his recently deceased father. The money arrived. Luvoozia promptly got an old block done up. In honour of the memory of the deceased, a sizeable marble slab was quickly fixed on the façade. Pictures of the ‘new block’ were mailed to the grateful son of the departed NRI.
The son had a dream, which he later mentioned to Ma in an emotional letter. He wrote that his dear father had looked down and smiled at him from his abode above the clouds.
Listening to a bhakta reading out the contents of the letter, Ma is said to have raised her pallid manicured hands towards the heavens and gazed long, somewhat like a boxer in the ring, at a point in the ceiling. She was trying to judge the trajectory of the dead man’s spittle streaming down from beyond and did not wish to receive it on her face.
Indeed, Ma claims a special relationship with the dead. Without that one cannot liaison with the gods. The gates of fortune open and shut at the pleasure of the ancestors who have direct access to the gods and who can effectively intercede for posterity – this was the theoretical core of the business lore Panditji’s father had bequeathed to his large progeny. He had been initiated into the mysteries of the unknown after he famously had a Borgesian dream in which he had seen a royal library in a Himalayan kingdom that housed mysterious, virgin archives in a cellar. The archives, he claimed, held the total database on every human being’s fate – on the past, the present and the future of every person living, dead, or unborn.
(To be continued…)
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