Daksham was a journalist.
Stories interested him and the weird world was the best place to find them.
There was little that could surprise him now after reporting for over fifteen years.
Tragedy, greed, violence, death, poverty, fanaticism, oppression.
It was sad how the bad things always made better news than the good.
That’s what brought home his bread and butter. He had tried to change the system, inspire positive and constructive journalism, reforms that could make the world a safer place.
But no one was interested. His boss had once told him –
If the world is a bad place, then there must be some good reason.
Daksham never understood that, but he didn’t grasp a lot, and he made his peace with sorrow and anger, the two emotions that drove people to the evil acts that kept the news coming.
His latest assignment had him traveling one thousand kilometres by train to a village that boasted of a rundown temple. A place that lacked character but was famous for the miracles that occurred in its crumbling courtyard.
ROLL AWAY YOUR SINS.
The script over the temple door was written in some local dialect but could be translated to any language. And the sinners began lining up before the break of dawn.
Men, women, children, the ones who believed, the ones who didn’t believe.
And when the decaying temple door finally opened, batches of twenty were allowed to enter and crisp instructions were issued with religious fervor.
Roll brothers! Roll sisters! Left to right then right to left. No bumping, no fondling, the bell will chime every one minute and after five chimes you can rise and leave your sins behind.
Daksham was given a special viewing place and with his camera in hand, he witnessed the mass rolls, people struggling to follow instructions, children howling, women adjusting their sarees as the fabrics threatened to come undone, men groaning as the hard ground pummelled their bony frames.
It was a circus of nonsense, and the priest contributed by rattling off mantras and shlokas that he had probably concocted the night before.
Daksham clicked numerous shots and penned down his thoughts. This would be another mindless article that would catch the interest of fickle-minded readers.
After twenty-two batches, Daksham had had enough. There was nothing more he could obtain from the spectacle in front of him. So he bagged his camera and strolled to the gate.
The priest was quick to intercept him.
Why not take a quick roll yourself. I’m sure you can’t be sinless.
The journalist was quick to retort.
I’m not sinless or brainless. I wash away my sins every evening with Johnnie Walker.
Daksham raised his thumb to his mouth and threw his head back to bring home the message. The priest giggled and raised his own thumb to his mouth. He then pulled out a card with his name and number.
Call me. I’ll join you in the evening. These fools don’t know what they’re missing.
The priest winked and then went back to his chanting and instructing.
Roll brothers! Roll sisters! Roll like there’s no tomorrow!
The weird world had proved its insanity again.