I kept praying. Praying silently and furiously. The prayer almost bordering on desperation. I kept praying to God. Please don't let me down. Please don't let US down. It was almost a question of HIS existence. Our beliefs and our faith on HIM depended on this now. If he let us down... then 40 plus 4 and a half years of faith will collapse. Life will never be the same... because one needs to have a superpower or some Omnipotent power to believe in.
I saw his lips moving in silent prayers. I hugged him and said... it's ok if we don't. He staunchly looked ahead and reiterated... no it isn't. If it didn't happen, he will lose all his faith on HIM. I prayed to HIM too... please don't let him down. He has a lifetime ahead to believe and to have an anchor.
We were on a jungle safari at Gir. This was Boogie desperately praying to God so that HE lets him see some lions. I was praying on his behalf.
It may seem trivial, also a little funny, that an almost-eight boy wanting to see lions should take on such gargantuan proportions. But it actually does and it did.
We grow up being taught and teaching our children as well to believe in a greater God. My mother, old school and taught by Catholic nuns, believes in telling tales of epic proportions from the Bible, Mahabharata and the Ramayana. These mostly tell us that Good conquers over Evil and if you so pray with all your might... your prayers will be heard.
I in my 43rd year have now kind of been resigned to the fact that life doesn't really work that way. It's not always good over relatively bad, that karma moves in its own way. But how do I tell my nearly-eight son that God may not really listen to him despite his ardent prayers? I tried breaching the topic saying that if you don't get to see lions this time... may be God doesn't want you to see them this time. Pat came the answer... why? Why doesn't he? I have been praying to him. And if not now, then when?
I was starting to feel distinctly helpless. I couldn't import lions. I could only try and reason with him to avoid a feeling of being let down by God and feeling dejected. As a mother, I don't mindlessly give in to my children’s whims. This has caused lot of arguments, counter arguments and non-cooperation at home. I have mellowed in some cases, in other cases firmly holding my own ground. But what is the fine balance in this scenario?
We are almost at the last lap of our safari... having seen hordes of deer, eagles etc. but without any sign of the elusive royal lions. Our driver Bharat and guide Jayesh stops the car and goes out. They are also by now in tune with this desperate struggle of keeping faith. Having relieved themselves and whiling away some time... we resume our journey. Boogie with each passing minute decidedly looking gaunt and heartbroken. Still trying to be brave, accepting that after having to come back from the Sundarban without sighting the Royal Bengal Tiger, may be he won't get to see lions this time either.
Suddenly Jayesh raises his hand and asks us to be alert. We look at where he was pointing his finger. And there was the Lioness! Sitting under a tree, enjoying the mellow sun. Transfixed, we look at the opposite direction in motion. Two young lioness were coming out of the bushes. The lone lioness ran towards them and snuggled against them! It's a family reunion! They played with each other while we stand mesmerized. They then walk past our jeep where Kriti gapes at them and Ma looks elated. Boogie has a beatific smile on his face and is plain elated and thrilled. As the three lions move away he softly says – “pride…” – the collective noun for lions. I literally (and no I am not making this up) look up towards the sky and heave a sigh, silently thanking God or Almighty for having kept the faith of my nearly 8-years-old son intact. I didn't want him to grow up in a faithless world. A world where there isn't anything to look forward to. I wanted him to live in a world where it would be "another day for you and me in paradise".
Enjoy our safari pics. And please do write to us. I am absolutely certain that there have been moments of these to-be or not-to-be in your lives as well. We would really like to know of them. It always gives me – us, the courage and the impetus to live and try to make this a better world in whatever small way we can.
Love and light.