Bunty had always been a problem child, a rebel without a pause! All he to do was meet authority and it would be fireworks. Very often it seemed like he went looking for authority just so that he could rebel against it, a compulsive rule breaker.
Sharada, had enough trouble keeping a large household together and Bunty problems, as everyone in the house called them, were getting just too nerve wracking for her to handle.
Bunty was the youngest of her three sons. Akhil and Amar, they were both married to lovely girls but Bunty remained obdurate in his views about marriage. He called it an ‘outdated institution’ and a ‘bloody waste of time’.
Sharada’s husband had died leaving her alone with her three sons when Sharada was still a young woman but she was indefatigable in her mission as a mother who wanted to give her Sons the best. It was Sharada’s belief in her God that had seen her through those trying years and aided her in her mission. So when Bunty insulted her belief in her God she decided enough was enough! An intervention was needed. A Family meeting had to be called!
Bunty had been a veteran of many a family intervention, not many things really worried him.
“You really hurt the Panditji,”Akhil fired the first opening salvo after dinner on Saturday. The two Brothers, their wives and Sharada had accosted Bunty, he had to answer for his behaviour.
“What did I do?” Bunty was almost dismissive in his demeanour.
“You knew there was a pooja in the house and yet you stayed in your room all day, not venturing out even for the aarti and when Maa asked you to take the Panditji’s blessings you shrugged and walked away. That is no way to behave,” scolded Amar.
“I don’t believe in pooja,” Bunty shot back.
“Why? Why must you be so troublesome? Why can you not follow tradition?” Sharada exclaimed woefully.
“Cause it is nonsense!” Bunty kept his calm, refusing to get drawn into this game.
“Do you not believe in God?” his Mother asked him.
“I do but not in pooja,” Bunty retorted.
There was no point arguing with the boy and the family came to that decision much sooner than Bunty had anticipated. Sharada was disappointed in Bunty but Akhil and Amar explained to her that it was the arrogance of youth and as time went by he would understand the value of tradition. Sharada secretly prayed he would.
What no one in the family expected was that in the coming days Bunty’s behavior would go from odd to bizarre.
One evening the intercom in the house rang and when Sharada answered it she found it was the building security on the line. The Guard had a message from Bunty, he was hungry and wanted dinner. Sharada was convinced that Bunty had lost his mind.
“Why do you have to ask the apartment security to talk to me? Can you not tell me that you are hungry yourself?”
Bunty said nothing in response but an hour later the security guard called again with another message, “Bunty says that he did not want to hurt you and he loves you. It was just that he was very hungry.” Sharada said nothing, she only wished she had a way of rebooting Bunty’s mind.
As the days went by Bunty would speak only through the security guard. Everything that Bunty wanted it was the Guard who would ask Sharada. Finally Sharada had had enough; she barged into Bunty’s room with the rest of the family in tow and told him in a firm quiet tone that she had decided to leave the house. It was obvious that Bunty and she could not live together. Her Sister had been asking her for the longest time to move in with her and Sharada had decided to take the offer. “Enough!”
Bunty smiled at his Mother and then walked up to her and gave her a tight hug,
“Now you know how God feels Mom?” he said lovingly. The best the family could do was look at Bunty confused.
“Like I love God, I love you. You have suffered endlessly to bring us up. You are my Hero and yet when I talk to you through the Security Guard does it not feel bizarre?” Sharada was more perplexed than ever.
“God loves you and Akhil and Amar and Bhabhi, He’s been with us through everything. Do you think you need a Pandit to talk to Him? Do you think He needs tradition to get to Him? Do you think God speaks Sanskrit and does not understand our language? Do you think He needs for you to extoll His virtues and… and pay obeisance to him for your love? Is your God like that? Mine is not.”
For the first time in her life Sharada understood that though Bunty was a rebel, he was a rebel with a cause! She hugged her son tight. He reminded her that the greatest tradition of our land was “Vaad, Vivaad, Samvaad!” The freedom to argue, question and discuss. She thanked God for him and this time spoke to God without an interpreter.