Where Art Thou?

Should I, should I not? One of those eternal conundrums in life.
Should I discourage beggars or should I take mercy on them? I wish I could be like K, who willingly fishes out little coins from her tiny pouch, meant explicitly for this purpose. Or should I be like H, my colleague, who either ignores them or deals with them firmly?
Is there a way to sit on the fence? I cannot reconcile this…
Leave it!

So, where was I? Conundrums… yes.
Should I believe in miracles? Should I not? Hard time for a teen who has grown on a staple diet of Amar Chitra Katha The class teacher was handing the corrected answer scripts for Maths exam. Names were being called out in alphabetical order, followed by loud declaration of marks. Miserable scores. Grumpy faces, tension writ large (what will we explain at home?).
My plight was pathetic — only the rosary was missing. Such were my frantic prayers that I didn’t realize a bumble bee whoosh past me, uttering a sweet buzz. It didn’t sting or bite me. Soon my name was called and I had scored 89%! Way back then, I thought the bumble bee came to deliver a miracle.

I am riding in an autorick. Just as I am getting off at my favourite temple, I realise the wallet has been left behind at home! My previous stint as scribe, meant surprises lurking around, ‘dead’lines and unearthly hours. As a handy measure, I always kept extra currency in a small red manila envelope for food and transport. Eleven months later, the bag is still the same, but would the red thing still be there? A bit of rummaging and hey presto! Half a minute later I am paying the auto driver! Did I utter Miracle?

Listening to the rain outside, lying awake in your bed, discovering an old tenner in your jeans pocket just when you need it… Ah! I am getting it… There are all little joys, coincidences and surprises that life is blessed with. There! That makes it easier to trick and eventually train myself to be more rational. Miracles are kind of old fashioned anyway.

Of course the jeans don’t have to be jeans really. They can be anything, even a duffel bag. In my case, it used to be blazers. Every winter, when it was time to take them out from the dry cleaner’s cover, it was a Pandora’s box. I would find an old chocolate wrapper, a scrunchie, an old Re. 1 note or even a piece from scented eraser! Till about the time I was a teenager, I had two blazers, besides the school blazer. One, in a kind of tweed bought at Kashmir emporium which I wore during regular outings to the park and the nearby market in the evenings. The other was a hand me down that originally belonged to Mom. Bought at Simla, it’s a pleasant green with beautiful embroidery of orange and red flowers and warm silken lining. I loved wearing it with slacks for the Republic Day parade and other such special occasions.

I open the trunk, gently remove it from the covering and caress it. Not bad, not bad… Just that the sleeves are shorter and the buttons have to be left unfastened. Overgrown it considerably, but feels just like those days. Old things have a way of hugging you warmly, connecting you with time and place, and unleashing a flood of nostalgia…
Can I have a miracle please?

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