Saturday, February 25, 2006


It is supposedly true that one questions the existence of God when misery strikes. This was the reason why Aslam was an atheist right from his childhood. Born in a very poor family, he was the eighth child to his parents. With little food and no education, he spent 20 years in the world as a tramp, doing all kinds of minor work for people in return for a piece of bread or a meager amount of money.

One day, as Aslam was staring at the clouds, his father called him. He informed him that Nawab, the writer had called for Aslam. Aslam knew what Nawab wanted. Once in a while, the writer would ask Aslam to get dinner for him from a restaurant in the city, which he believed was the only one that made clean food.

As Aslam bought the dinner and went inside Nawab's house, he saw the writer kneeling down and praying. “Why wouldn't he? He is happy in his life. So he believes in God", thought Aslam. “If only my parents had sent me to school, I would have been a writer today (a perfectionist like him), and as happy as he is."

Nawab finished his prayer and opened his eyes to see Aslam at his side. "Were you praying along with me, son?” he asked.

"I don't believe in God. In fact, I never have. If we are the children of God, it is his duty to keep us happy. And if he doesn't, I can very well conclude that Man is not God's creation. Rather, God is man's creation--in order to explain the unexplained.", replied Aslam. "I don't mean to offend you, sir. You are happy in your life. So, you are not ready to wake up to the truth that there is no God. Goodbye, sir.” Saying this, he walked out of the house without even waiting for his money.

Nawab was stunned by Aslam's words. "Eternal sorrow surely makes a thinker out of every man", he said to himself. "But that boy easily went off saying that I am a happy man. But am I?"

As he looked around his house, which was very clean, with all his things arranged in an unbelievably symmetrical fashion, he was once again taken in by the thoughts of his misery. This was one of the many reasons why his wife left him. She was intensely irritated by the manner in which Nawab would walk with her, avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. There were numerous occasions on which there were incessant quarrels between them-- about his inability to discard useless items; his unusually long hours in the bathroom waiting for the soap to dry before he came out; his hesitance to respond to her touch, saying she was not clean; and much more. Then one morning, she packed up her things and left the house. Nawab could not even open the front door to go after her since he feared that the door handle would be contaminated (his wife had touched it only a few moments ago). Such was the severity of his Obsessive compulsive disorder. As he went outside deep in thought, he saw his neighbor’s son, Kunal, walking on the street, singing happily. "If only I were born to someone else, I wouldn't have had this horrible disorder and I would have been as happy as that boy”, Nawab muttered.

"Kunal! Where have you been? Your father was anxious", shouted a servant.

"Oh, no!!” sighed Kunal. As he entered his house, Kunal heard his father talking to someone on the phone. He did not know who he was talking to, but he heard these words- “I am sorry; Kunal has gone to his aunt's place. I don’t think he'd be able to join you on the tour."

As he saw Kunal coming, his father ended the call and asked him, "Where have you been, son?”

"Whom were you talking to, Dad?", snapped Kunal.

“Answer my question, you mannerless rascal! Have you been partying again?"

“You still haven't answered MY question, Dad. Have you been sabotaging my outing again?”

Saying this, Kunal rushed in to his room and bolted. A few minutes later, his servant knocked at the door. When Kunal opened the door looking at him questioningly, the servant said," Kunal, here's the bottle. Your dad wants you to fill it."

Kunal was expecting this. "Okay, Ramu, Come back after an hour and collect it", he told the servant.

It was before an year, when Kunal had just begun partying at nights. Though his father couldn't stop him from doing so, he hated the idea of his son partying late at nights. He was afraid that his son would get exposed to drugs and alcohol. When he was of Kunal’s age, he had got used to drugs and drinks at late-night parties. This was why he believed that his son would get exposed to them, too. Hence, every night when Kunal returned after a party, his father asked him to fill up a bottle with Kunal’s urine, which he'd check with his family doctor for the presence of drugs and alcohol.

As days went by, Kunal was really irritated by this strange action of his dad, that one day he decided to do drugs and liquor. Though he was aware he would spoil his own life by doing that, he felt that this was the only way he could punish his father. And now, there he was-- an alcoholic and a drug addict.

Kunal's thoughts were disturbed by the sound of someone shouting. He knew who it was. He went out to the window. It was Aslam, standing with a bottle in his hand.

“I hope no one noticed you. But what took you so long?” Kunal asked.

“I had just emptied when you sent for me. So, I had to wait.” replied Aslam.

“Oh! Stop it. Thanks for the help, anyway. Get your money later."

"Okay Sahib", Aslam said, and went back.

After a transfer of the fluid to the other bottle, Kunal called out for his servant and gave the bottle to him. "Give it to dad. And tell him that I am as clean as ever.” he said and bolted the door again. He was hoping his dad didn't watch the movie from which Kunal lifted the idea.

Now, a thought came to his mind.” How strange! When I was clean, my parents thought I was bad. And now when they have made me bad, they'll think I am clean. I hate this kind of life. If only my parents had more faith in me. If only I was as free as Aslam, I would have been a good man-- a very happy man."

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