The Religion Called Pragmatism- Chapter Two: The Rum God

The Religion Called Pragmatism- Chapter Two: The Rum God

“Come out… Your bail bond has been paid…” said a polite female cop to Veena, who sat on the lonesome red chair in a room. Unlike common pictorial depiction, the jail had no adverse effects on her well-being or get-up. With her boy-cut and well-kept hair, her sports shoes and her formal attire, she looked the same as she did when she had entered the station a few hours ago. No dried-up tear-trails on her face. She was engulfed in thought. The cop had to repeat herself. This time, Veena heard her quite well. She got up and walked up to the door. Seeing the tall professor bend a bit to walk past the door, even the cop assumed an informal façade and exclaimed “You outstand most of those of your Gender… right?”

Veena nodded. But then she questioned “Don’t you mean women? You are one too right? Then why didn’t you say ‘women’?”

Arre Madam, Aap Bhi, that was just small talk. But yes, point noted. Now let’s go. Your father awaits you outside,” the cop replied.

“He had to come himself? He is an ailing man. I told him not to leave without my permission,” Veena said worriedly.

The constant urge to be of aid amongst the cops of the station was an aftermath of the Veteran Police Commissioner. The octogenarian celebrated ex-cop, Sangram Bhagwati, had himself come to the rescue of his adopted daughter. Their bond was more than that of a regular father and child. After Amara’s demise, she was his sole caretaker too. The ailing old man had a stringent medicinal schedule. He was constantly battling Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Spondylitis, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes. Thus, he had to stick to his wheelchair for most of the day. Due to the dedicated care by Veena, his only son, Vidhyut Bhagwati, could lead his desired carefree life as a bar-owner in Las Vegas. The NRI Bohemian serving drinks to other immigrant Bohemians in a faded corner of the concrete jungle… well he was living the Great Indian Dream. Veena, on the other hand, had never resorted to dreaming. For the woman of curriculum, dreaming was not a dire necessity and rather a distraction. Her eidetic memory testified against Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome. She willingly never dreamt… and if it so happened by mistake… she never fantasized over them.

She escorted her father back to his vehicle. They both sat together and had a little chit-chat over the ever-corrupt and sycophant state of police-affairs. Sangram sighed in relief, for Veena was the recipient of the latter. The chauffeur gently drifted ahead through the clique of media representatives. The dramatic intensity disturbed the silence with its soundlessness. Soon, the gravity was broken by the foremost remark “Why are you so worried about it? This is India… People would be stupid… always… nothing has changed since my time.”

Veena was lost in wonder. It took her a while to realize the sentence and she gazed back at her father to question him “What is my religion?”

The question had only and only touched Sangram’s eardrum, but it seemed as if the strangers outside, the non-living objects, the chauffeur and the lifeless sedan had all lent their uninterrupted attention to hear the answer.

“Why do you ask? That’s the first time you’ve ever asked it…” Sangram said presuming a philosophical façade.

“I don’t know… I just want to know. What is my religion?” Veena questioned again.

“Well… I am not sure how to answer that… Vikrant… take a turn towards Sharadji’s place. We’d be visiting the temple beside his house. Maybe if we ask Godmen the same question with your interesting backstory, they might answer. I mean… if they don’t get confused themselves…” Sangram exclaimed with the car then changing its route.

Within a few minutes, they had arrived at the temple. Sangram was made to sit on his wheelchair again. Veena rushed forward, leaving the other two a little behind. She then suddenly turned around to question “Whose temple is this?”

The question was first intercepted by a vagabond.

“HaHaHa…Whose you ask? Then I think You’re in the wrong place…” He said.

“What do you mean?” Veena asked. The other two had now arrived at the scene.

“I need money… You give me money… I tell you stuff…” He said.

“Take this…” Veena said as she grabbed a two thousand rupee note from her bag and gave it to him.

“What are you doing beta?” asked Sangram.

“No Papa let him say…”

“It is yours… yours alone… when it’s not… it isn’t anyone’s… it is either everyone’s… when there is God… or it’s no one’s… when there’re just bricks.” The vagabond replied.

“He sounds drunk… He even smells of it… you shameful creature… why are you in a place of worship so drunk?” Sangram murmured angrily.

“Makes lose mind… for some… makes say the truth… for some… makes forget pain… for some… poison for some and Elixir for some…. That’s the beauty of Rum…” the vagabond added.

“What is your religion? You’re not Islamic for sure…” Veena said.

“My religion you ask? It makes me lose my mind… yes it does… but I don’t mind losing my mind… I am not Islamic… It makes me utter the truth like the Soma… to say my heart out… but I am not Hindu either… It makes me forget the physical and mental pain… as Jesus had wished for it too… but I am not even Christian… But whatever I am… I would accept only all I am… and none that I am not… Would believe all I know… and reject all I don’t… ” the Vagabond said in a dizzy voice.

“Then What IS IT?” Veena lost her cool.

“Go away… catch this… payment for stopping this nonsense” Sangram said, hurling his 9oz steel flask towards the Vagabond. He caught it and opened it to smell some liquor inside.

“Whoa…. My religion is Rum… and You’re my God… YOU’RE MY GOD… YOU’RE MY GOD…” the vagabond said and ran away jumping and falling at every other instance.

“Let’s go inside Veenu… The Godmen await us…” said Sangram as Veena helped him through to the edge of the stairs.

“Wait Sir… let me lift you…” said Vikrant.

“Why don’t they have a separate inclined for the specially-abled?” Veena asked.

“Well… I think medical science has reached such advances that they presume that handicapped might not get the right solution for their conspicuous queries to God…” said Sangram. “We would wait here… you go ahead beta” he continued.

Veena climbed the indefinitely long stairwell to reach the central spot of the temple. The huge queue waited to ring the bell hanging above and further pay the donation box to join hands in front of the idol, have a normal Q&A with the priest and receive the sacrament. The queue moved forward faster than an ATM queue. It was soon Veena’s turn.

She questioned “There are drunk maniacs roaming around the temple. Isn’t that blasphemous?”

Vatsa drinking isn’t a crime till you commit a crime after drinking.” Said the Priest.

Punditji then why is drinking considered bad?” Veena asked.

“Exactly… it is considered bad… just like abusing, smoking, overeating, everything is… But… a fine line between bad and wrong.” The priest replied. The people behind verbally mentioned their anguish for the bhakt was taking a lot of their time. It was usually a one-word scenario. But… Veena had questions. Though, before she could ask them, the priest gave her the Banana Leaf full of sweets and she was gently pushed away from the queue. She slowly came down. Her father awaited her and immediately asked “So what is it then?”

She clutched the banana leaf in wonder, almost crushing the sweets inside. But before she could throw it… there came an adolescent beggar. She dropped the food in his hands.

“Did you get your answers?” Sangram asked. “No… Not at all….”

The Religion Called Pragmatism- Chapter One: The Woman’s Paradox

FeaturedThe Religion Called Pragmatism- Chapter One: The Woman’s Paradox

Religion, a word summoning the widest wildest of mysteries. Those mysteries form controversies. Those controversies recessively fuel the plight of man for a need to survive and struggle. Every soul has questioned through its conscious, sub-conscious and definitely through its conscience, what is religion? The answers are mostly specific or too general. The most important part is, that you know what it is. The meaning, in your mind, is not shadowed in dormancy. It is rather a more prominent thing which everybody, every second, is aware of. But, for a very strange reason, we naturally choose to isolate that definition from anything related to the word ‘religion’. All that appears in our minds is a dynamic amalgamation of extreme and ambiguous. Hence the diverse sects of radicals and the superstitious.

Religion, over time, has risen to become the most important issue across the world. The grasps of the curiosity to know the Gods has even reached further from our Planet. More so that if we ever encounter an extraterrestrial life-form, the first talk would not be ‘We come in peace’, rather ‘If you follow my religion, then I come in peace’. It is not the hour to debate ethics of religion, but to discuss and prepare the right questions to be asked, so that we can re-realize the very original purpose for religion. It is high time we understand that more important than ‘what’ is that ‘why is religion?’.


Dr. Veena Jacobs, a well-to-do history professor of Delhi, had spent the majority of her life escaping the interrogatives of and about religion. In Fact, the young academician had ever ignored phrases holding the word ‘religion’ itself. Hence, when a student called out to her for her personal statement as to ‘Whom are you supporting?’, she was speechless. The pretext of this query was the usual foolish feud of college religious politics and the context in respect to Dr. Veena was all the more paradoxical for her. ‘Why’ you must be thinking. The maze which Dr. Jacobs has been running from never left. That maze is the very answer to this question.

Veena Ratankumari Jacobs was born on 25th June 1975 within the backwaters of Alappuzha, Kerala. The seventh-month birth, demanding immediate caesarean, was indeed a national emergency for the rural and isolated below-sea-level island of the city. Her father, Sharman Jacobs, was a dedicated catholic and secondarily a sea-bus driver. He was also a member of the island’s commando-like Vallam Kali seasonal squad, or the famous snake boat race squad. The only dream of his life was to be the Captain of the squad, which was also dormant since long due to his temporary banishment from the community. His fault? He had married an Islamic maid, Noori Mirza.

Noori was the daughter of a fish merchant, living on the island in the Islamic colony. There was always a prevalent latent understanding between the Fish-Merchant Muslims and the Transporter Christians. The rivalry was not fresh but had initiated centuries ago. The original division was caste-wise between the ‘Machuwaras’ and ‘Kewaths’. The residents switched faiths to shed untouchability, but the vicious grasps of division prompted them to adopt dissimilar faiths. And the rivalry continued thence. During the backwater floods, the Islamic island almost sunk and the people were dispersed across Alappuzha. Sharman came across the twin sisters Noori and Amara on another island when he was running his regular evening shift. He immediately fell in love with one of them, then saw the other and got confused as to whom he had fallen in love with. Nevertheless, seeing their wretched state, he dropped them off at a Kochi Disaster Control Camp. Fatefully, Noori had to return to the boat as she had forgotten her bag of fish, the last one her father gave before they were separated. And thus, the introduction. It was Noori he was matched with and thus they talked and came to know about each other.

The regular meetings started and Sharman took time off his shifts to greet the sisters and ask about their condition. He came to know about their father, their island’s revered Maulvi and Merchant who had now been located comatose in a hospital. One fine day, Sharman was shocked to hear that Noori’s sister Amara, had been proposed by the camp’s Sergeant, who was a Hindu, for marriage. And she had complied. This boosted his confidence and somewhat hers as well and thus they registered their marriage in a court with two witnesses in Amara and her fiancé. Noori Mirza Jacobs was brought back to Sharman’s Alappuzha village, where he was shown black flags by Church, his colleagues and even his Vallam Kali mates. His Vice-Captain position was stripped immediately and he was boycotted from the society. His dream to be Captain had vanished then. But after the birth of his daughter, empathizers of society partially reinstated his position in the community.

  This was not the end of it for Veena. When she was six years old, her father succumbed to injuries he had received during a snake race accident. Her pregnant and ailing mother also passed away a week later during the delivery of a stillborn second child. She was then adopted by her aunt, Amara Mirza Bhagwati.

Veena had a multi-lingual upbringing. But her liberal parenting had never made her religious enough for the world. She never sought God for her ailments and as per her conveniences, unlike a regular being. Her busy and ever constructive schedule could barely accommodate any divinity. Nevertheless, since she couldn’t ever brand herself otherwise, she was a theist. She was latently trying to escape the paradox which was her religion. Hence, when asked about it, she was the most startled.


“Whom are you supporting?”, called out a student activist and leader during an all-party student meet of the Delhi University. The question was directed to Professor Veena. The revered history professor, her inclination could’ve meant a lot during the upcoming University elections. The student unions distressfully waited for her declaration, ready with their circumstantial lauds and criticisms. The profundity of this scenario was far above what Veena had faced in the past when she could easily hide behind the various moody facades of the Indian Lady Professor. But just as they gazed at her, waiting for the very chance to chant away their slogans, she stepped down the stairwell and walked down the carpet to the exit. Her path was cleared away only to be blocked by one last student-worker, an innocent young girl. She reiterated the question at her professor. “Whom do you support? What is your religion anyway?”

Veena, the learned professor, gave the most educated answer anyone could give “I was a born Christian… But I support no specific religion.”

The duplicitous innocent girl gave a huge cry “You betray the Hindu Religion… We raised you…” and took a bottle of ink and hurled it past Veena’s face, leaving her face and attire black-stained. The chants had now begun. The throwing of shoes and the pushing and the pulling… all persuaded the spectating police to finally play their role. They unleashed the water cannons on to the enraged crowd, soon dispersing them all from the holy spot of learning. Veena and a few others stood in a corner after avoiding the stampede. The police arrested her on charges of instigating a riot.