Odd angel adorable


“But why do we have to send him away? Why can’t he stay for a little longer?” It was the end of the Ganesha Chaturthi festival, and Janaki was very upset. She had eaten delicious kadabus, and all other kinds of unimaginable delicacies. Her mother and aunts had gathered in the kitchen for days, preparing the tasty treats well in advance, and the smells that emanated from the kitchen were too heavenly to be resisted.  

She did have a good time, dressing up in all her finery, putting on the long forbidden pink nail polish, and putting flowers in her curly hair. She had a pride of place during the pooja, next to her father, and felt extremely important, handing over to him the flowers and fruits he required. She had waited patiently for the final aarthi, because she knew that it was to be followed by a lovely, leisurely four-course meal.  

But what she loved the most about the festival was Ganesha himself. His serene elephant-face, always friendly and smiling, the round potbelly with a snake wrapped around it, his little mouse, and of course the sweets he carried with him always. A little odd-looking perhaps, but that was what she loved about him. He was not perfect, tall, or stern looking – he was a child, just like her, and when she remembered Ganesha, she stopped worrying about her missing front teeth, and lopsided spectacles. She loved the idol of him they brought every single year that she could remember. A beautiful clay Ganesha, looking serenely comfortable in his high pedestal.  

So, after the festival was over, everyone was happy and rejoicing, but little Janaki was moping in a corner. She was absently nibbling on a modaka and thinking about ways to save Ganesha from the horrible fate of drowning in their backyard. Her grandfather, being a wise old person who noticed things, saw her glum face and proceeded to sit next to her in friendly silence. After about a minute, she burst out with the whole tale to her grandpa. He heard her outpouring, and also listened to her anguish. He waited for Janaki to catch her breath, and then told her gently,

“My dear, but who says Ganesha is going away now?” But, weren’t they going to immerse the beautiful clay Ganesha in a bucket now? And wouldn’t he disappear, just melt mysteriously into the depths of the murky water? Wouldn’t he vanish until next year?

But grandpa was as understanding as ever, and soothed her ruffled feeling. He told her,
“Well, he is only going away on holiday. And he has also given you a way of reaching him even if he is not right in front of you. You know what it is, don’t you?”

She thought it through, and realized, that Ganesha didn’t really go anywhere at all. She could still see his smiling elephant-face whenever she wished to, in her mind. He would always be there. She smiled up at Grandpa, and pulled him towards the festivities. As she looked at his familiar, wrinkled face, she reflected on how nice it was to have a wonderful Grandpa like him.  

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