The story is about a mothers encounter of a hungry child on the day of MahaShivratri. How she sees the world offering milk to the Lord and ignoring a hungry child.
It was Sunday and was the day of “Mahashivratri”, the day of the god Shiva. My daughter had high fever since last 3 days. The doctor asked us to get her admitted but she refused to stay in the cramped clinic. Then on the doctors suggestion we were visiting to the clinic 3 times a day. Numerous tests, medicines; we were on our toes. We were not able to sleep at nights as we had to check her fever every 2-3 hrs. She was not eating anything and was on fruit juices. She was getting very weak and had lost 1.5 kilo grams in 1 week. We kept bringing her all the things which she likes to eat but she refused to eat anything. This all worried us more.
Thankfully her doctor did not have Sunday off. We were on our way when we realised that we have missed the fact that going by our own vehicle would not be a good idea as the place where the clinic was located was right on the perpendicular lane of the only Shiva temple within the small town. My husband dropped us to the clinic and went back to look for the parking.
I went inside and there was huge crowd. It was the month of February. The climate kept changing and the poor little souls had to suffer. The clinic was so packed that I was even finding it hard to breathe. The children were crying the mothers were waving them with their pallus, fathers were trying to relax them by showing them their favourite cartoons on the mobile, the grandparents were singing, and some were playing, touching the objects on which the lady at the counter was objecting.
I noticed that every single child was accompanied by at least two adults; either both parents, or with other relatives. I looked at the door to see if my husband has arrived but could not find him.
After 40 minutes our name was called and the doctor said that all the reports look OK and it is a viral fever and we should not worry so much. He gave her a tonic for her lost appetite and asked us to visit back after 2 days.
As I came down the stairs I saw my husband. He told me that he could not find parking anywhere as the streets are too full because of Mahashivratri and that he had to go back to our home to park and came back by an auto Rickshaw which again dropped him only where it could reach.
As we came down to the road, the scene got even worse. The vendors selling flower garlands and all other puja stuff had come almost to the middle on both the sides of the road. There was no space to walk at all and in between there were people who were trying to cross the road with their two wheelers and some even had the courage to come by car. Wow! Vehicles were honking, vendors were shouting, people bargaining all on the already very busy street of the town.
My husband suggested me to stand on one corner while he would go and get all the medicines and some fruit juices too as my daughter demanded it.
While I was standing on the corner, I saw beggars, old men and lots of women, sitting in a queue in front of the temple. Their children were wandering on the street begging for money and their parents were not paying attention at all. It was so contradictory to the scene at the clinic. The street was so busy that nobody had time to look at those children and children had to pull their cloths for seeking attention. Many noticed and many ignored. Everyone was in a hurry to offer their lord, the things which I believe the lord wants them to give to someone else. People were going and coming to the temple each holding white flowers, the bel leaves and what not. And each one carried- the Milk to pour over the “Shiva Linga”.
One such woman came holding too much to handle. She had milk vessel in her right hand. As she put off her slippers and started to walk in, a small thin child, hardly 2 years old (but looking a year younger), pulled her pallu. One corner of the pllau was beneath the milk vessel and as the pallu was pulled, the milk vessel slipped from her hand and all the milk got spilled on the road. In the huge crowd, she could not see who pulled her pallu. She reached for the vessel. As she bent, a small kid who pulled the pallu, quickly picked it up before her. He ran towards his mother with the vessel and on the way he poured what all little milk was remaining into the vessel, into his mouth. He poured it till the last drop and looked so happy that even I smiled. It was hardly over two spoonfuls, the amount, the multiple of which I have been begging my kid to take but she refuses. I was standing behind where his mother was begging. The woman came rushing towards the kid. I quickly took the vessel from the kids hand and as the woman reached near I handed it over to her and smiled and said waving “Kids, you know”. She gave a fake smile and went back to fill in her empty vessel. In the mean time the mother of the kid got up and hit the kid lightly on the back of his head and said, “This little one is always hungry”. She looked back at me and smiled in embarrassment and sat down and started begging again. The hungry kid went along the streets again crying.
My eyes kept following the kid. Though many of the “devotees” ignored him, few gave him sweets as Prasad. He always gulped everything immediately but his eyes remained on those milk vessels.
In the huge crowd, with this ear shattering noise, my mind still went all silent and I found myself into the court room from movie OMG, where Mr Paresh Rawal is defending himself and is telling an incident of Mahashivratri. He said that once he believed that there must be someone who is drinking all this milk inside the temple and giving the devotees the blessings. So he also went inside with the vessel filled with milk. Instead he saw people pouring the milk over their lord’s idol and all the milk is then draining into the gutter. He followed the gutter and saw a hungry beggar standing besides the gutter looking at the wasted milk. Mr Raval said that he then gave his vessel to the beggar and after the beggar drank all the milk he said “May god bless you”.
The Mahashivratri is celebrated so that one could overcome darkness and ignorance. But seeing what has happened today I am sure that all the milk offered today to the lord is again going to the gutter and that lord Shiva himself is crying to make the ignorant people stop and asking them to instead look at these hungry children and feed them the milk.
My husband came back and handed me the medicines and juice bottles, many. I put all of it into the bag. As he went to look for rickshaw, I bought one milk bottle and ran towards the kid and handed him the bottle. He opened it and started drinking the milk. I thought doing this will give me a sense of contentment but instead seeing him pouring the milk into his mouth, my eyes welled up. I closed my eyes, looked at the temple and all I could say was “Oh My God”!