I enter the bathroom carrying a cauldron full of boiling water in my hands. I pour the steaming water into two buckets and open the tap. Cold water pours into the bucket while I cautiously dip my hand in the bucket to check the water temperature. The water is too hot!
I undress and sit on the short stool placed next to the buckets. I put the small cup of shampoo next to me on the bathroom floor. Oops! I forget to close the tap and the water has become lukewarm! But that’s fine. The weather is not that chill today.
I wet my hair and start applying the shampoo to my scalp. While the lather spreads to my hair, I notice a little black crawling creature near the drain hole.
Oh my God! It’s a cockroach!
I am initially too shocked to react. When I regain my senses, I try scaring away the cockroach by pouring hot water on it. That only makes it wriggle a little and then it changes its direction from right to left. What do I do? Obviously, I can’t rush out of the bathroom with lather on my hair and with water dripping from my body. And that too with me dressed like a newborn baby!
The shampoo starts to get into my eyes and I shut them at once. Shutting my eyes, calmed my senses too and starting humming a song that my aunt taught me when I was in school. It’s a song on Lord Shiva which has a line saying: “If we want to chant Shiva’s name all of sudden, it will never come in your mouth. Hence, start chanting his name from now itself, so that when your end is near, you can easily remember HIM.”
I was surprised at the number of songs that I could recollect from my childhood days. The songs that my grandmother taught me, when I must have been hardly 5 years old, are still clearly etched in my memory. I enjoy singing each one of them. The song that describes the features of Little Krishna and another one that talks of all the pranks he played on the Gopikas and my favorite being the one in which Little Krishna tells his mother, Yashoda, that all what the Gopikas are telling is baseless and that they are all lying…
I even chant Hanuman Chalisa while massaging my scalp with the shampoo and rinsing it off. Even the famous Bhaja Govindam does not escape my notice. I get mesmerized in the world of philosophy when I listen to the verse that says:
“Maa kuru dhanajanayouvanagarvam
Harati nimeshaatkaalah sarwam
Brahmapadam twam pravisha viditwa”
The pleasures and riches of worldly life are deceptive appearances. Understanding that they are all but a passing-show, be detached and dispassionate, cultivate renunciation and seek Brahman.
I wash away the last traces of shampoo from my hair, while singing, “Oh Paalan Haare Nirgun Aur Nyaare…” from the movie “Lagaan”. I was one of my thatha’s favorite melodies. And then slowly I get back to singing filmy songs with those jataks and mataks.
I don’t even realize when the cockroach disappeared back into the drain hole. But finally when I am rubbing myself dry, I realize one thing. If it had not been for the cockroach, I would have never thought of God at all! The little fear in me on the sight of the cockroach made me chant hymns and slokams.
And it also made me realize that there is hardly anything in our hands. Whatever will happen, will happen! Of course we have to put in our efforts but there is someone up above us watching and making us do things.
Thank you Mr. Cockroach for making me sing those songs and taking me back to my childhood days!