Seeing the empty road guruji smiled, “We have no traffic today, thanks to the cricket match”
Venky silently observed guruji. He felt trapped. He desperately needed to use the washroom but there was no way the car would stop now. Surveying the traffic again, guruji turned his head back at the ashram members cuddled at the back seats. “Who is winning?”
Silence. Venky didn’t dare to speak about the game. Kishor sat straight, as if indifferent to the questions his spiritual master asked of them.
Aki volunteered, “Can’t say Maharaj, the game is evenly poised. Anyone could win”
Maharaj hadn’t heard the answer. He was absorbed looking out of the window. The sodium vapour lights on Mumbai’s street poles added incongruent colors to the billboards that shone with LED lights, advertising clothes, shampoos, soft drinks, and bank schemes, and each of them featured an Indian cricketer. Venky didn’t know their names and seemed to not care. His bladder occupied his mind, and besides, his guruji was fully present and blissful in the now. He seemed fresh and not tired at all despite a super hectic schedule over the last three days he was in Mumbai. There was no jet lag and here he was off to another country with a different time zone. And he was fresh and happy as ever.
As Venky’s inner focus slowly shifted from his aching bladder to guruji’s smiling visage, a sudden peace radiated in the car.
The phone rang. “Maharaj, it’s for you; it’s Dr Shah, he wants to thank you for the morning class” Gaur handed Maharaj his phone.
“Yes, Dr Shah, who’s winning the match?” Maharaj’s voice was loud and excited.
Venky softly whispered to Kishor, “I didn’t know he was so interested in the match”
Guruji began responding to Dr Shah’s comments, “hmm..ok..yes…uh..yes”
Guruji listened attentively to the last minute medical suggestions that Dr. Shah seemed to offer on the other end. Again Guruji interrupted, “It’s all right Doctor, and my health isn’t bad after all. I am more eager to know if India is winning the world cup today evening or not.”
Again guruji heard attentively.
“Really… I shall await the inevitable”
After disconnecting the phone, guruji looked behind, “you guys are really renounced sadhus, you don’t care about this game while the whole country has deserted the streets to stay up whole night”
Another phone call by one of the trustees and guruji was once again enquiring about the cricket match.
“What’s wrong with him?” Venky again whispered to Kishor, “Is he mocking at our plight? I think he knows we are curious to know about the game, that’s why he’s asking us again and again”
“Oh yes, he doesn’t care. He’s just pulling your leg” Kishor dismissed the discussion.
“How is the game played anyways?” Now guruji’s question was deeper.
Venky spontaneously remarked, “I can explain it to you Maharaj”
He then volunteered to explain how the game has eleven players per team and while one team bats the other bowls. Venky was absorbed in his description of the game, excited as he was but suddenly he realized guruji didn’t care. He was busy smiling and looking out the window.
Venky stopped the explanation about the game; he felt stupid to describe a game that his spiritual master showed interest but wasn’t really keen to know the details.
A little while later, guruji again turned behind and asked, “So who’s winning”
Gaur volunteered, “Maharaj, my friend called that India is in a stronger position, but still one can’t say. Anything can happen”
“Really, it’s so long and uncertain. Oh how keen I am to know who’s winning”
Anxious moments passed and in some time the car reached the airport.
As guruji got out of the car and a waiting devotee offered a trolley to put his luggage, the airport shrieked.
Was it a bomb blast? Terrorism was not unknown to the city.
A girl aged around twenty five jumped in glee. A security official hugged his comrade, and passengers entering the airport gate paused to hail India’s victory. Yes, India had won the world cup, and Venky too felt elated but contained his emotions.
What startled him was guruji’s response; he was quiet, his half smile and careful surveying of his luggage was in total dismissal of the spontaneous and loud celebration all around him at the airport.
Just minutes before, guruji was asking too many questions about the game and it appeared he was really keen to know what’s happening. But here he was totally indifferent to the celebrations. Quietly, guruji walked through the security screen while on his either side and in front and behind, people cried, laughed and wailed in joy. But for Maharaj, it was just another day.
To be continued…