Vandana Sharma took a ten-rupee coin out of her handbag, closed her eyes, chanted few mantras and then offered the coin to the sacred Yamuna. She then quickly got inside the black Sedan waiting for her.
‘You made me drive all this way just to throw away a coin into this river?’ said Alok Sharma, Vandana’s skeptic husband.
‘Alok, please. Now don’t you start making fun of this,’ replied Vandana, putting on her seat belt.
‘I am not making fun. I genuinely want to know why you did that.’ Alok fired up the engine and got the car moving.
‘I have my reasons.’
‘You have your reasons- well, that’s a new one. I mean, you have a rational backup for your act of blind faith that has no beneficial consequence at all?’ Alok turned down the stereo’s volume, expecting an interesting conversation coming up with his lovely wife.
‘How do you know for sure that there is no beneficial consequence of my act of blind faith?’
‘Well, what good that unreasonable act can possibly bring to you? Or to us? Or to the universe, for that matter? On the contrary, I can give you a number of reasons why you should not have thrown that coin into the river. Do you want to know?’
‘Go on then. Why are you asking for my permission? As if you would stop if I would say no.’
‘Fair enough. So here are my reasons. Firstly, you just wasted my hard-earned money there, thus ridiculing all the efforts that I make to earn our bread and butter. Secondly, you just added to the pollution of the already marred Yamuna. Thirdly, you may have endangered some rare species of a fish to extinction.’
‘Oh, really. And how so?
‘Well, the sole fish of some endangered species may swallow the coin and choke to death.’
‘Yes. And God forbid if that fish misses the coin, it well may turn up, all fried and decorated, in a plate before a gentleman like you sitting in some fancy restaurant, making fun of other people’s belief. Isn’t it?’
‘May be. But then, at least a person’s belly would be filled up, whereas in this case, the fish’s life would go to a complete wastage.’
‘Whatever you say, I simply don’t want to argue with you. Just drive and make sure that I don’t miss my flight.’
‘And that’s my last and most important point of all. You just increased the probability of missing your flight by taking all that time for your unreasoning rite.’
‘If you just shut up your mouth and concentrate on driving, we would be there at the airport, easily in time.’
Vandana leaned her head on Alok’s shoulder and closed her eyes. Alok checked the clock on the dashboard. ‘Enough time to make to the airport,’ he thought.
‘Sometimes you really are insensitive, you know,’ Vandana said, her eyes still closed. ‘If you don’t believe in anything, at least don’t make fun of others’ beliefs.’
‘I am not against your beliefs. It’s just that you should not blindly follow everything. If you want to have a faith, at least have a justifiable one. Anyways, forget all about it and go to sleep. There is enough time for you to take a nap.’ Alok turned off the stereo lest it would disturb his wife.
Ten minutes later since the Sharmas left the riverside, there came Salim- a dark eyed boy with a skeletal body and hungry look, and he dived into the cold and reeking river, looking for his daily earnings. And for this lucky day, he even found a rare ten-rupee coin among the ones and twos.
— Madani Sayed
This entry won the 2nd prize in the Nationwide writing competition Melonade’3 (2012 – 13)