There is a mosquito in my prayer room.
For over a year now, I have re-adopted the daily, morning and evening prayer routine, as was followed by my late parents. I can recall how they and us, their brood, used to scrunch in a narrow launch-pad like horizontal space in front of figurines of a multitude of Gods, Krishna lalla always seated in the centre on that shelf of a temple in our house. All siblings swayed front and back, spontaneously and simultaneously, multi-aligned with the rhythm of our prayers, the whirl of incensed smoke, the resounding claps, the ringing bell, and the roving diya-flame. There was so much mirth and a unique quietude in that fervor filled pandemonium, what with ten human beings doing God’s aahvaan at the top of their voices. Those prayers were, in fact, the only time when all our household members seemed to agree on something, and I enjoyed every bit of that experience. We the siblings must have felt like a band of sankeertaks, joined by a common pursuit.
Daily prayers were led by my appa and the rest of us followed, repeating word by word all the Sanskrit shlokas he used to recite fluently and with all intonations in his deep, booming voice. The way he prayed, meanings used to flow with the shloka – it was strange not from his perspective, since he was anyways into reading, translating and writing about his learning from scriptures on a daily basis. It was surprising for me, how we seemed to automatically understand the meaning of those shlokas just by reciting them on a daily basis. It continues to be a happy mystery.
Re-adopting the ritual after over three decades of irregular praying, has brought inner tranquility and confidence. A conversation with God has a calming and humbling effect, as you lay bare your deepest feelings as well as intentions, not for the Almighty to decide on but for yourself. And this eggs you on to be a bigger, better and braver human than you think you are.
Coming back to the mosquito in the prayer room (I know not whether it is a he or a she), it is certainly brave. It is not afraid of the dangers it plays with and escapes on a daily basis, swirling in a room with flaming diya, and in a space it shares with a predator – a spider. Now this spider is as dogged about weaving a web close to the God figurines as I am, about not allowing it to feel at-home. Every cleaning day, I remove the web but let the spider go, just as I do not charge at the mosquito with any killer racquet or a dose of mortein fumes.
I wonder how the mosquito goes by in the prayer room. It is certainly gifted. There is nobody to bite and draw blood from, for its survival. It may be partaking nectar from the flowers offered to the deity everyday. It has not bitten me ever, during my prayers, not even buzzed around my ears. If it is surviving on nectar and not blood feed, it must be a male, as I googled and learnt. But then it should not have survived beyond a week and now it has been a couple of weeks since it descended on the prayer-room. May be its immortality is a boon from the merciful Gods impressed by its daily service and prayers.
Beyond the mystery of its survival too, I think the mosquito is blessed. It gets to spend so much time around the figurines, droning prayers, that it has become a source of motivation for me. Bolstered by daily gratitude practice, I have come to become grateful to this mosquito too for the constant company it gives the figurines, while I am gone for work on weekdays. I am thankful for the more than 22 hours that it probably devotes on a daily basis, singing and praying for the Almighty, while I am nowhere near the prayer room. I know it may be sleeping for much of the day, depending on which species it is, but like a dedicated temple priest, it is always there in God’s attendance whenever I enter the prayer-room.
Attachment does not come easy to me, but I have come to expect the mosquito (and the illusive spider) in the prayer-room, every time I go there to offer prayers. It seems to be having a blast of a time, living in divine presence, the three summer days of Keats’ butterflies. To me this immortal Dipteran represents the commitment, courage, and consistency required to clock 10K hours of practice for mastering anything.
Holy mosquito, I bow to thee!