My troubled relationship with God hit an all-time low the day my new shoes were stolen from a temple. The pricey pair had been gifted by my mother-in-law. No wonder, my devout wife was quick to blame me.
"You've been punished for being an agnostic," she said. "Didn't expect your Almighty would stoop so low," I quipped. "Mind your tongue," she warned. "Or you'll land in more trouble." "What can be worse than going home in soiled socks?" I wondered. "And that too after becoming the laughing stock of relatives and friends."
"The kind priest promptly offered his hawai chappals, but you refused," she rubbed it in, knowing very well that I wasn't exactly friendly with God's 'messengers'. Ignoring this provocation, I set my think tank rolling. I just couldn't afford to let tragedy strike again.
One option was to stop visiting places of worship that had no 'shoe guards', no matter how important the occasion. But that would be cowardly, and socially incorrect to boot. Leave the shoes safe in the car itself? No, that was again a spineless way, for which my wife's 'moneyminded' sisters had teased and taunted me on our wedding day.
After much brain-churning came my Eureka moment. Out popped the motto - 'Once bitten, twice sly'. The next time I visited a temple, I removed my shoes with newfound confidence before entering the hall. With a casual air, I strategically placed the Left far apart from the Right, somewhat like a protective parent separating lovebirds for their own good. I hoped my ploy would hoodwink even the most pious thief, if not the Lord Himself.
I returned an hour later and instantly found Lefty. But prima facie, Righty seemed to be missing. Had the ultimate Big Boss outsmarted me? I imagined that leaving the place with one shoe would be even more embarrassing than going barefoot.
With a do-or-die pledge, I dived into that sea of leather. After a frantic search, I found my footwear, sandwiched between two low-heel sandals. Forgetting the funeral occasion, I jubilantly lifted the shoe aloft like the World Cup, much to the chagrin of other mourners.
Buoyed by the trick's success, I have frequently pulled it off without a hitch. But please don't try it, dear readers. God's ego might get bruised if everybody starts separating and then reuniting their pairs at a holy place, as if they have no faith in His surveillance. So just pray for the safety of your shoes. And do observe a minute's silence for my stolen ones. May their soles rest in peace.