Lord's burden

Lord's burden

The idea of a fun hangout could conjure up images of different places to different persons. But to most people, residing in the area dominated by orthodox middle-class Brahmin families — the place where we stayed during a Naval tenure in Chennai — the fun destination was a popular temple! Indeed, the temple was extravagantly frequented by many folks, in all age groups.

Many a time, you could overhear some amusing snippets, from their animated conversations. Like, you have a sexagenarian woman, caviling of her daughter-in-law, saying “I dunno what magical spell my bahu has cast on my nitwit of a son, who has suddenly turned namby-pamby. He’s a veritable marionette in her hands, as you always see him sticking to her like super glue.

She and her saucy manners, snooty attitude, with loads of chutzpah… ugh!” And you hear a daughter-in-law spewing brimstones at her mother-in-law, saying, “My saas is such a horrendous harridan, ever behaving like a virago, who thinks she’s the undisputed queen of the kitchen area. The way she keeps a tight vigil on me by stalking me everywhere, I get a feeling that she uses only one of her two eyes and ears for herself, since the other eye and ear are always on me...”

Mind you, all these you get to hear while they are circumambulating temple premises! Of course, as you are doing pradakshines, you may also hear a teenybopper gushing over her gorgeous new apparel, or the way she’d have overshot a red traffic signal, or ‘blowing the gaff’ in hushed tones about her pal’s eloping with a guy, or about her own romantic escapades.

If fact, the temple itself serves as dreamy rendezvous to many love-birds, though the love is all platonic! And then, as you wait for the thirtha to be offered by the priest, you hear an office-goer, tittle-tattling on her lynx-eyed boss, always saddling her with extra workload, though he himself would be dodging official duties. Or, you hear a teacher, carping about the way she is getting foisted with administrative work, along with teaching tasks.

And, while going round the sacred banyan tree, you could hear, nine-yard-sari-clad, short-fused maamis, dishing out details of personable lads and pretty lasses in the locality, to those on the lookout for prospective grooms and brides. If you are lucky, you could even hear from them, the recipes for scrumptious tea-time snacks! And then you have huffing and puffing old men, gingerly genuflecting before the temple deity, while speaking exuberantly, comparing Anna Hazare’s politics with Baba Ramdev’s.

You begin to wonder why a temple is chosen to share these thoughts, secrets and miscellaneous information? Imagine the plight of the Lord, who has to listen to all these dreary stuff!

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