Agnus Dei

by Pratima Balabhadrapathruni

My origins cite a plethora of Gods, demi –gods
traditions wrapped in cultures moored
in mornings that arrive
as a symphony of Aarti1 bells and church bells
alongside the first Namaz2 of the day.
To which God do I offer the early prayer?

My stomach is growling in hunger, I am hung -over
deprived of the caffeine that lies languishing
on the table, letting off steam
into vaporous silences
… there are other Gods to be appeased.
Proximity is a dictator –
They dictate. I don’t.
In servitude lies my first unspoken prayer.

First Bhog3 then bhojan4
The Gods are fed, the Lords are fed.
When is my turn, in this pecking order?

Oh Kali, Oh Shakti, Oh Divine Mother
To whom do I offer my hungered prayer?

Chants fill the courtyard. Chants fill the street.
Still early in the morning still the hungry Gods
“Maha papaharam devam”5,
a familiar voice prays in fervor, watching
watching me over, watching me all over
with a hungry eye.
My stomach is a tiger, ready to pounce.
No chants issue from these lips
no roars of protest . There is a need
in time and a place, for a refuge
I feel numbed, my shadow is silent
Oh, Surya6, Bhaghavan7,
who do I offer this mourning prayer?

The first bell shatters birds into chirps
and in my land of many Gods, I let the Sun walk in
soft dawn of another light
the world of night still in repose
In darkness, I am the perpetual hunger
arms,legs, a roaring tiger, the wounded spider
I flutter, my creaking bones bent backwards
Feed my Soul, Mahadeva8.

1. Aarti : a form of worship in which a lighted lamp or camphor or incense is offered to one or
more deities.
2. Namaz : Muslim prayer
3. Bhog: usually food offered to the Gods
4. Bhojan : meal. breakfast lunch dinner
5. Maha Papa Haram Devam : God who absolves the worst of sins.
6. Surya : Sun
7. Bhagavan : venerated
8. Mahadeva : God of Gods

Pratima Balabhadrapathruni is a Home maker and many other small things. Sometimes she writes stuff. She lives in Singapore

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