The Divine Debacle
The road ahead shimmered in the afternoon heat as the car moved at a modest speed of 50 km/hr. It was peak summer and A/C was turned on in the car to get some respite from the heat. They had just escaped the crowded streets of Haripad and were moving up north. The roads in Kerala were among some of the very worst in the country and it was something that every malayalee complained about. But the ever resourceful malayalee took it in his stride as it was also a curse that could not be avoided.
“Man, this highway is a wreck,” exclaimed Kumbalam Hari who sat on the passenger’s seat, throwing his hands up. “I think I will need to throw up if this continues for some more time.”
The driver of the vehicle, Tony Kurushingal smiled on hearing this as he deftly put the car into fourth gear. The delicate constitution of Hari’s stomach was legendary. Epic paeans had been written about various incidents involving his friend.
Tony replied, “Don’t complain aliya. The poor roads do not stand a chance against the alternating seasons of monsoon and humid summer coupled with very poor structural engineering designed to keep the water on the roads instead of letting it escape into the clogged drains.”
“I dream of the day I’ll see a perfectly reasonable stretch of highway in this state.”
“We may never live to see that day. A good road in Kerala is to KSEB, what the sight of a happy soul is to a dementor. Maybe it reminds them of their own inefficiency. I don’t know,” Tony replied shrugging his shoulders. “But rest assured; they will dig it up within 24 hours. If only they showed the same zeal in producing electricity!”
Conversations like these were commonplace in every part of the state. Though they had planned to leave Trivandrum by 6 AM; it was finally 9 AM before they started on their journey to Cochin; human performance rarely matched up to human aspiration. Tony knew that the shocks on his weather-beaten Maruti 800 would take a beating right throughout the 220 kilometers on the dreaded highway 47 but it was a drive that he’d always enjoyed.
“So how is work coming along?” Tony asked, knowing that his friend worked long hours in his office in Technopark.
Hari’s expression turned sour as he replied, “Aliya, why did you have to remind me of work on a Saturday! I wish I had Kumbakarnan’s life. Eat, sleep and not worry about anything else except the occasional duel. Life would’ve been perfect!”
“Such a life can only exist in stories and mythology. Don’t yearn for something that cannot exist.”
Hari, at once pointed an accusing finger at Tony. “Don’t call them stories or mythology. We already have the right term for the Mahabharatham and the Ramayanam; ithihasam or history.”
“Yeah right, and God created me on the seventh day when he took rest!”
Hari shook his head as he turned his massive frame towards Tony. It took some doing for the man who was over six feet tall and weighed a healthy ninety kilos to do that in the cramped Maruti 800 seat.
“Seriously dude, it’s not funny. Our ancients were an advanced lot. There can be no other plausible explanation for many of the concepts discussed in the books like pushpaka vimanas, nuclear warfare, epic weapons, test tube babies and so forth.”
Tony looked at his friend with a mischievous smile, “Have you ever considered the fact that the dudes who authored those texts might have been high on soma or on something worse? There is no physical evidence to back your claims and that is the simple fact!”
Hari shook his head even more vehemently this time. “Aliya; drunk or not; stoned or not; they could not have written about all these advanced things 2000 years back without having the technology.”
Tony shifted perceptibly in his seat on hearing this, ever watchful of the road ahead. “I could actually give you a theory which is actually more probable than yours.”
“And what is that?” asked Hari intrigued.
Tony switched off the music system that had been playing old Malayalam songs and then he lifted his free hand up, pointed to the ceiling and said, “Time travelers from the future!”
“That is by far the stupidest piece of -”
“Or maybe alien travelers who stopped over on some epic intergalactic journey,” added Tony as an afterthought.
“- stupidest, stupidest piece of science fiction that I’ve ever heard!”
“And why is that? Actually, if we are talking purely about probability; my theory is much more probable than yours. Just think about it. Human flight was thought to be impossible until the Wright brothers proved them wrong. Space exploration was just science fiction until we put a satellite into space. We once believed in a steady state universe until Mr. Hubble came running along with his telescope. So don’t say that it cannot exist.”
It was Hari’s turn to smile, “Aliya; don’t tell me that you’ve started drinking before sundown? It’s an unhealthy habit!”
Tony stopped the car in front of a small thatched roadside thattu-kada and they both stepped out of the car for a much need break.
After ordering two kattan chayas, Tony replied, “Human conditioning has taught us to accept certain things as valid and certain things as not but it is all in the human mind. Today’s science fiction might well be tomorrow’s science, maybe even the Holy Grail; the perpetual motion machine. Common sense would dictate that it is not possible according to the laws of physics!”
Hari scratched his head and asked with a sheepish grin, “What is a perpetual motion machine?”
Tony burst out laughing. “Mone; nee annu engineer (You are the perfect engineer)! Go check wiki later!”
“So what are you trying to say now?” asked Hari.
“It is a very simple idea. Take all those stories from all the religious texts as mere stories and not as facts. All those prophets were probably great reformer in their times but we should not add the concept of divinity to their stories or lives. Many of the problems that currently exist in this world; the fundamentalism in thought and action can be solved the day when we all become moderate in thinking.”
Hari said, “Well, I’m not a fundamentalist!”
Tony took another sip of his chaya and replied, “All believers in the divine are fundamentalists in a certain way even if they don’t realize it. For e.g.: I believe in religion A or B. My philosophical system is the best; My God is better etc”
“But it all comes down to this question. How did this universe begin? Life?”
Tony replied, “Scientists now predict that our universe originated out of nothing. Positive energy in the universe cancelled out by gravity which can be taken as negative energy. But more importantly, it is not God who created man. It is in fact the hominoid race who created God.”
“And why is that?” asked Hari.
“Ego! We are special because we are the chosen race; chosen people! God was created the minute our hominoid ancestors evolved to ask the basic question: What is life? Who are we? The answer logically had to satisfy the human ego back then.”
The breeze from the Indian Ocean came in hard at that moment bearing in the smell of salt and fish and from the spot Hari and Tony stood; they could see a beach in a distance and a group had collected on the shore.
After Hari finished his chaya in silence, he said “Let’s stop this discussion now. There is only one thing that I am really interested in at the moment.”
“And what is that?”
“It looks like the fishermen are coming from the sea now. Let’s see if we can buy some neimeen and make a wicked fish-fry tonight!”
“Kollam aliyaaaa!” And they both started laughing as they walked to the shore.