At midnight, she brought red syrup in a champagne flute. She perhaps saw deep furrows engraved on my forehead.
‘It’s not blood that I drink,’ she tried to allay my doubts. ‘It is the sherbet of red roses.’
And, I sipped it reluctantly at first. It was indeed sherbet. We also chewed hashish to relax after a marathon. That night we gabbed about a lot many things.
‘What religion do you follow?’ she asked.
‘The true religion,’ I said.
‘Which religion is that?’ she appeared quizzical. ‘Never heard of it.’
‘One, where a man is the lord and master of himself. His reason is his only guide. Love is his sole prayer. He loves others as much as he loves himself. He never hurts anyone, except the hypocrites and the wicked,’ I said.
‘Never heard of such a religion,’ she said.
‘If a religion be the lullaby of hungry souls, then the religion of which I speak is no religion. This true religion awakens a soul, liberates it to transcend every divide, and makes us think and reason.’
‘What else does this true religion preach?’ she asked.
‘There is no place for a preacher or a priest in the religion of love. There are no commands, only suggestions.’
‘What else does it suggest?’ she corrected herself.
‘Live in the moment. This moment is real, rest is false. What you did is ghost, what you’ll do is conjecture.’
‘Sounds interesting,’ she was amused.
‘It says that reason has all the answers but don’t reason. Live.’
‘Is there a place for a god?’ she asked.
‘Every man is a god,’ I said, touching her warm hand, ‘but no one should attempt to play one.’
‘Without a god,’ she asked, as she played with a lock of hair that dangled over her eyebrow, ‘can a religion survive?’
‘With a god to preside, can humanity live with freedom?’ I asked her in return.
‘The Omnipotent and his Arch Rebel are the two tent poles for holding up a religion,’ she argued. ‘In all the religions they exist, in various shapes, as the two extremities that bind a religion.’
‘God and Satan are mere fictions created by man to instill fear in human heart. But a man who has infinite love for his fellow beings and no fear of anything hardly needs the two,’ I said.
She kept mum, perhaps thinking about what I had said.
‘Whom do you serve?’ I asked.
‘The Omniscient and the Arch Trickster,’ she replied.
‘Both?’ I asked perplexed.
‘One at a time,’ she illuminated.
‘You serve two bosses, then,’ I was still confused. ‘Isn’t there a conflict of command, to serve one who is All Good and the other who is the Supreme Villain.’
‘For the good tasks, I follow the God’s commands,’ she clarified, ‘and for the bad ones, I obey the words of the Diabolus.’
‘Have you ever seen them together?’ I asked.
‘The Good one and the Bad one,’ I said.
Her reply set me thinking. I thought: was the one whom the majority of people worship, except the pagans and the atheists, a schizophrenic?
© 2011, Bhupendra Singh