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  Cleanliness & godliness

Cleanliness & godliness

Published : May 7, 2016, 11:17 pm IST
Updated : May 7, 2016, 11:17 pm IST

That morning dawned all bright and sunny, giving no warning of what was to follow. But follow it did.

That morning dawned all bright and sunny, giving no warning of what was to follow. But follow it did. At precisely 9.15 am, the favourite member of our family started to emit a troubling, raspy cough. Naturally, we all rushed to our washing machine’s side in concern. It gasped and tried to say a few words. It shuddered as though in disgust at the things it was having to wash and then came to a slow halt. The clothes inside it looked sullen and soapy.

And so I settled down to our monthly puja to propitiate the nameless God of household appliances. Since this avatar is yet to grace our kalyug, its devotees are but a few. First, I performed the sacred ritual of dialling the service number that is always busy. This ceremony can be unexpectedly profound and moving. It symbolises the performing of action (karma) without expecting any rewards. A true devotee like me will persist. My faith may be pushed to its very limits, but I know that, when the hour turns auspicious and the Airtel towers in heaven align, I will hear that divine shloka, “Welcom to Worldfool surviss. Press 1 for English, Hindi ke liye do dabayeen...” Thanks to my Vedic mathematics training, I know the precise combination of numbers that lets one instantly get through to the operator. “When time he should come madam ” she asked this morning. I paused and then uttered the sacred mantra, “Any time. We are always at home.” Thrilled that she was with a true believer, she said he would come the next day. Precisely seven and a half days later, a bored-looking chap called Vignesh washed up on our doorstep. He clucked when he saw the machine and opened his bag of tools. There was enough in there to build a ship. He stationed himself in front of the washing machine for the good part of an hour, intermittently calling out to me, “Madam, stool. Madam, waste-cloth. Madam, bucket. Madam, please keep my phone for charge.” When Vignesh finally emerged, he wrung his hands and shook his head from side to side. He looked like one of those doctors in ’80s Bollywood movies. I half-expected him to point upwards and say, “Ab sab ooperwale ke haath mai hai.”

The motor was faulty. They didn’t sell these motors anymore though. Of course, Vignesh could get me a new motor, so long as I was prepared to sacrifice money. The Lord, you see, works in mysterious ways, but he always needs cash. He waved the repair logbook in front of me and I placed a large amount on it with respect.

A new moon came to pass before Vignesh returned with the new motor. He proceeded to take our machine apart, piece by piece.

He started to gut the machine, but before he could get too far, something caught his eye. Vignesh reached into one of the crevices and brought out something. “Madam, see,” he said and opened his palm.

I couldn’t believe it. In his palm were several gleaming coins. “No need changing motor now. It will be fine,” he said and put it all back together. It quickly whirred back into life.

We were delirious with joy. My mother anointed the machine with kumkum and chandan. “It has healed itself!” she said to me.

“You know those stories of sacred ash and amulets Our machine is materialising coins!” my dad said. We all nodded in agreement. It was a modern-day miracle.

“Actually sir, the coins are from ” began Vignesh, but then he saw the look in our eyes and said, “Yes, it’s a miracle.”

The news soon spread. Neighbours came in for darshan, a phone-video went viral. But it wasn’t just us. Reports started coming in from all over. Many devotees had been able to reach into their machine and find coins. One remote town said that all their washing machines were suddenly gleaming.

Just when it was going well, a few sceptic types tried to spoil the party. They surmised that we had put the coins in ourselves. That was ridiculous. We had seen the miracle with our own eyes! Could they explain why it happened to so many machines on the same day No! And what about the experience of our friend He had reported that, because he had guests from the US, the machine had materialised American coins. How do sceptics explain that

Suchi Govindarajan works as a technical writer, and pretends to be a photographer. She blogs at