The long commute to work by the City bus had conditioned me to take a nap from the embarkation point to my destination. Well, don’t compare me with one of our former prime ministers who could take a nap anywhere and everywhere like a Pickwickian character. I was more like our first prime minister who used to make up for the curtailed hours of sleep in his long day by taking cat naps while in transit in those bulky ‘Ambassadors’.
Well, on that particular day, I had promptly dozed off even before the bus stopped to take in passengers from the second stop. As we proceeded, an excited buzz in the bus alerted me. I opened one of my eyes (my left eye always takes longer to react) to find the reason for the unusual behaviour of my co passengers. Out of the window I could see many characters, dressed in costumes, making a beeline for Dr.Smaran’s surgery. My physical body was too lethargic to forego the precious minutes of my slumber. So, my curious astral body floated lightly to the doctor’s surgery.
I saw that the first one in the line was made up like Lord Vishnu, complete with blue body colour and four arms holding Shankh, Chakr, mace and lotus in each hand. There were all types of characters in the line in addition to Shiva, Parvathi, Ganesha, Brahma- some boar headed, some horse headed etc.
I approached the first one and asked, “Why are you all ‘queue’ing like this and that too in your theatre costumes and accessories?” Mahavishnu told me, “This is not a costume. These are for real. Come and feel my extra arms.” I could see that they were not attached. They had grown naturally out of his body. “Likewise all the different shaped heads and multiple arms you see here” he said. Then he continued sadly, “That old Rishi Vyasa had a perverse imagination. He, in his 18 puranas, gave us all weird personalities and people just believed him naively. Their faith was reinforced by painters like Ravi Verma. He painted us just as Vyasa had portrayed and worsened the situation. In Christian texts they say God created man in his own image. But here, the Man has totally distorted our images. We heard that Dr Smaran is good at cutting off extra parts. So, we are waiting for an appointment with him”.
I was perplexed, “When there are so many surgeons in the world, why ‘queue’ in front of only one?” Vishnu said, “All those surgeons are busy dividing inner parts like kidney, heart and brain and apportioning them to the separated conjoined twins – a more complicated procedure; whereas here all this surgeon has to do is to chop off the extra parts.” How I love to look normal, say like a Greek God! When I showed my ‘Vishwa roopa’ to Arjuna in the battle field of Mahabharatha, he got scared and requested me to get back to my normal 4-armed persona, as if being 4-armed is normal for anyone!” “But what about your blue body colour? That is also unusual.” Vishnu said flippantly, “That is no big deal. The dermatologist has already promised us that a few jars of ‘FAIR AND LOVELY’ would do the trick.”
I passed down the line. Shiva told me that he was there to get rid of his ever dripping lump called Ganga and the crescent shaped outgrowth on his head that went by the name ‘moon’. He was also confident that the extra blue colour of his neck could be bleached with extra–strong fairness creams. “As for my third eye, I can pretend it is not there, since I am expected to open it only on the last day of the Universe.”
Parvathi’s complaint was unique. She found that she was always portrayed with a curvy posture and her palms open- one pointing upward and the other pointing downward unless she was doing something else. She wanted to stand erect with her hands at ease on both sides like a normal being.
This reminded me of the crossed feet posture of young Krishna, portraying whom, poor little boys and girls are made to hop around the stages, holding a flute near their lips.
Brahma wanted to get rid of his extra three heads. Puzzled I asked, “But Sir, your brain also will have to be quadrisected?!” Brahma gave an ungod like guffaw and said, “That’s where the beauty lies. Haven’t you seen my other faces not even blinking an eyelid while my front face talks? That’s because, those three are only dummies and have no brains in them. So, I have nothing to lose.”
I paused in front of the normally placid Lord Rama. “Rama, you have a normal handsome 6 pack body except for your blue colour which I believe is not much of a problem. But then why are you here ?” Rama said sedately, “I am here to see if the ‘doc’ can reconstruct Shurpanakha’s nose. I feel so guilty about it.” I shot back, “But why? That was the just punishment meted out to her by Lakshmana for lusting after you!” Rama explained patiently, “No, the mistake was ours, though Valmiki portrayed it differently. Actually, Lakshmana and I were fooling around with a discarded bottle of ‘AXE’. So, it was only the ‘AXE effect’ that made the poor Rakshasi come after us. We had no recourse than to cut off that nose which led her on that infamous pursuit.”
I passed on to Durga. I folded my hands in obeisance and asked, “Mother, your multiple hands were given to you to destroy all the evil in the world. Why do you want to get rid of them?” She heaved a long sigh and said, “I am fed up of the Western world parodying me. One author even had the temerity to describe his promiscuous protagonist as a man ‘all hands, even more than a Hindu god’. I know he was referring to me in particular. Even in dances, you must have seen me portrayed with many hands, but later all the dancers separate out making it obvious that they are all normal beings with just two hands.”
Ganesha was hoping to be provided with a human head, though with an elephant’s memory. He also wanted to know if Dr.Smaran would do lipo- suction of pot bellies.
I could not help wondering. “What would happen to our traditional art, literature, music, dance etc solely based on their present forms if the whole disgruntled pantheon decides to go for mass ‘make-over’?
The conditioned reflexes of my physical body were sending me signals that my destination was approaching. My astral body flew back to the bus to join its napping counterpart.