Ever so often in my childhood, the book I carried out of the library was one called ‘Waterbabies’. My heart went out to some of the little children of London whose job it was to clean chimneys. With long broom and ragged clothes and matted hair that also looked like ends of some wicked broom, they were shoved up chimneys to push at stubborn grease and grime and scrape filthy chunks of smelly muck and sludge from unyielding rotting chimney walls.

As I see the infighting in our country and across the world, over construction of mosque or Jewish temple, and church or other religious shrines, or hear arguments, even threats over the opening of religious places even during these Covid times, I am reminded of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem, ‘Deeno Daan’ or ‘There is no god in that temple!’  

Much before the pandemic I looked at a motley lot of people who had come to me to learn the art of public speaking from me. As I began the talk my heart sank; they looked anything but people who would one day get up and wax eloquent. There was a shy school girl who couldn’t even look directly at me, a house wife who nodded to everything I said but who I found out later didn’t know English well, a man who had a nervous twitch that began twitching as if to distract me and others who looked equally incapable of such huge task. “There is a word which starts with the letter P which is the most important word in learning to speak in public, “I said, “What is it?”

Was rather perplexed to hear that more old couples were filing for divorce than ever before, “But why would people in their old age move to end decades of togetherness?” I wondered and walked to the park for my daily rounds.

           So many of us lead two lives, one for the public and another that is private; most often the private one isn’t fit for public scrutiny: I wonder how it would be if every time we did something bad in our private life, a bell would ring outside for the public to hear?

           A priest, in urgent need to use the bathroom, walks into a local bar. The bar is jumping with loud music and lively conversation, but every few minutes the lights abruptly go off. Every time the lights go off, the bar crowd bursts into loud whoops and applause, but when they see the priest enter the bar, the place becomes absolutely quiet.