Often people ask for answers to questions which might not have any realistic relevance. Given my usual antipathy about how things are done in this world, many friends and colleagues have put this hypothetical question before me, “What would you do if you were the Prime Minister?” How am I supposed to answer that question? The average age of Indian Prime Ministers is one at which I would like to blissfully lead a retired life, with great-grandchildren and all. On second thoughts, “I’ll remove that column from government forms which asks for religion,” I reply.

Religion to me is a very private affair, I don’t like to discuss my beliefs and practices but often I have to, much to the displeasure of many. I don’t like to visit temples – at least the modern ones. The gaudy architecture and the vulgar ‘religious’ imitation of popular Hindi film item-numbers being a few of the reasons. Religion is supposed to answer the unanswered. It delves into the unknown realms and fills the gaps of cognitive human knowledge and therefore should provide solace to the troubled soul. But when religion becomes an identity, things become complex and the troubles of the soul increase. When I complain about the unearthly noises at a time when I’m ready to depart for the oneiric realm, I am antireligious.

Is religion keeping the whole neighbourhood awake just because something you had yearned for happened, and you want to thank someone above for that? Or is religion about chanting something that I can’t even remotely comprehend? Does religion ask for a circumcision check before thrusting that dagger into the abdomen? I don’t want the answers. I’ve already witnessed the consequences.

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