Bend your knee, or Ill break your leg

-AYU, THE QUEEN

They dropped me off at Pragati Maidan, and although I had no use being there, I decided to participate in what the billboard displayed to be the Agni-havan. As I entered through the gates, I found a man beckoning and a mini bus waiting for me. Well, at least, I thought it was waiting for me, until I noticed five other people walking beside me. As we entered the bus, one by one – and since there were no seats left unoccupied, we spent the journey, standing– I deduced from the looks that people gave us, we were already being judged.

When the bus stopped, the six of us were the first to get out. The conductor then pointed at the entrance of the hall, so we obliged.

With a dome shaped ceiling, the white-washed hall was decorated with orange curtains and huge tapestries. The floor was carpeted in brown, windows with polished frames and air conditioners working to lower the already low temperature. At the very centre of the room sat some priests, chanting prayers around a fire built by burning some wood. Inside the hall, we discovered large groups of people – presumably of my age – sitting in concentric circles. A man in orange garments walked up to us, and quite politely suggested that we sit down, taking part in one of the circles that was currently being filled. He was a Pundit, funny thing is, he wasn Indian. He was Japanese. At that time though, I didn really care. The awareness and confidence I had shown in front of Kali, I think I had left it behind in the jeep itself.

But, the pundit, he wasn the only foreigner, the Indians might have been the largest group of people in the place, but the hall was packed with a very diverse population. Black, yellow, brown, white, you name it. I saw someone who was blue. That dudes a nut job.

Anyways, there we were sitting alongside each other, gazing at the centre – where two pundits were chanting prayers. There was music playing in the background. I couldn find the speakers, but the audio quality was almost perfect. I found the melody, quite soothing.

More people filled in, and before we knew it, the hall was fully packed. The same priest, that we had met earlier, joined the other two pundits in the centre, and after they had exchanged greetings, he addressed the rest of us. He spoke in a language, that most weren familiar with, but – strangely – everyone understood.

”I hope your journey was comfortable, ” he said, looking around at the crowd of children, and a strange smile appeared on his face.

”Earlier today, the lot of you had been administered with a drug, that made you gullible, ” his grin only grew wider.

Well, I knew I wasn completely sane, at the moment. And I think it was the same situation with all the other children in the room alongside me. I knew that was true, because a bizarre confession (by the priest) like that, only received a mildly enraged response. Hardly anyone shouted, nobody seemed to care that they were probably getting kidnapped.

Perhaps, that encouraged the priest, to get his enthusiasm back.

The man nodded at himself, then shifted behind the fire, which didn seem to affect the carpet. ”Yes, this seems like a bit maniacal, but I ask you to bear with me, ” he said with a smile.

He waited for a moment, gathering mean looks from everyone present inside the hall. ”Cause now its going to get sadistic. ”

That too, didn get much of an outrage.

”You might not have noticed this but each of you is sitting on a mat, ” he bent down and picked up a cigarette and a lighter.

”Under the mat you will find a lighter, ” he pointed at the mats the priests were sitting on.

We checked. There it was. Silver coloured and bearing the initials of the owner.

”Good, ” said the priest, lighting his cigarette ”Now burn yourself with it. ”

So that is what we did.

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