Hari was angry. Here he was, a self-confessed atheist, having to accompany his father to the temple. His father assisted the priest in the temple, cleaning the premises, tying the garland, etc. It had been raining heavily from yesterday; they heard that the river next to the temple had overflown its banks, and his mother wanted Hari to accompany his elderly dad.
Hari was somewhat of a hero amongst his friends. In a group taken in by the revolutionary ideals of Kerala's Marxist Party, Hari was the leader. He had shown courage to scribble DOG (a wordplay on GOD) one afternoon on the temple's compound walls to show how much of an atheist he was. He had also boasted how he never goes to temples despite his father assisting in a temple. Of course, his friends didn't know that he always visited the temple first thing in the morning. After all, he couldn't tell his parents that he was an atheist. Now, that same Hari was having to accompany his father and assist him for a whole day in the temple, and he was hoping that his friends don't see him going to the temple.
"Ready?," Hari's father asked, as he took the long umbrella from its hanging position next to the door.
"Yes, Father." Hari took his own umbrella from the school bag.
The road was quite slippery from the rain, and while the rain had eased out considerably, it was still tough reaching the temple a kilometer away. For Hari, it looked even more treacherous as he had to look around to confirm none of his friends were around. Not that they would be out in this rain, but he didn't want to take a chance.
It took them 10 minutes more than usual to reach the temple. Like the Brahmin household which was in charge of it, the temple had definitely seen better days. The compound walls were crumbling, and while one could still faintly see what Hari had scribbled, moss was already growing over it.
The river had obviously overflown its banks in the night, but with the rain easing out, it had receded a little. The levels were still quite high, but the danger was gone. Hari's father stepped through the debris which had washed into the temple as the river had breached its banks. Hari gingerly followed his father.
As they came to the sanctum sanctorum, they had a shock to see that the doors as well as the idol had not survived the previous day's rains. It was quite apparent that nature's fury had taken care of God. Even as Hari stood shocked, his father picked up a stone that was lying close by which resembled the idol, wiped it with the dhoti he was wearing and stepped into the sanctum sanctorum and placed it where the idol was.
"Father!" Hari couldn't believe his eyes.
"Now, don't you go around telling this," whispered his father. "Do you know that we survive because of this temple? If the Brahmin household comes to know that the idol had gone, they'd close this temple forever and how do you think we'll survive then?"
Hari realized he had some way to go before he became a true atheist.