Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Gods amongst Us!

Akshat sighed and picked up the bag of the man standing in front of him. The man was standing between two cops who held him tightly.

“You can release him now. I will take care of him.” Akshat said to the policemen.

“Are you sure?” One of the cops — Salman — said. Akshat did not blame him but felt a little disappointed. Just because a man looks middle-eastern, people judge him all the way to Sunday. He did not like the direction the world was moving towards but he eventually made peace with it.

“I will be fine.” Akshat said to the cop. The cops unshackled the man with long hair and a beard. He was wearing something like a toga and was looking all around astounded.

“You do not understand.” The man said and grabbed Akshat’s collars as soon as he was freed. The policemen held the man again.

“I told you he is dangerous. Deranged!” The other policeman — James — said.

“Really! And what has he done? He is just afraid.” Akshat finally said a little irritated.

“We did a background check on him. No records. And between you and me, look at his face — long beard, dishevelled hair and that accent…” Salman moved a little closer and whispered — “… he might be a terrorist, you know.”

“How can you say that? You yourself are a muslim.” Akshat said incredulously.

The cop looked a little flustered and didn’t say anything.

“Anyways, I will take care of him. Sir, please come with me.” Akshat said turning to the man held by the two cops.

“You don’t understand.” The man said, his head hanging. Although dejected, he followed Akshat slowly. The cops left him but stayed put in case the man tried to do something.

“This is going to be your room.” Akshat said and kept the bag in the room. “I will be back in 10 minutes. You get comfortable in the meantime.” Akshat said and moved back to the reception area.

“I don’t understand why you do this Akshat. These people should be put in a normal mental asylum.” James said to Akshat once he returned.

“No, James. I feel that people like him need a different type of surrounding. Anyways, thanks for bringing him to me before someone hurt him.”

“Yeah no problem buddy.”

“How did you find him, by the way?”

“No big deal. He was standing in the middle of a crossing in a fountain, trying to call people and tell them that he is Jesus. First we thought he was drunk as the whole fountain smelled like alcohol but then we realised that he was a candidate for your place.” Salman said.

“I just don’t understand why people like him choose my religion to taint.” James said. He was extremely religious.

“Better than the situation with my religion buddy.” Salman said and laughed. He was not at all religious.

“Hmm.. Its alright. I will take care of him.”

“Okay Akshat. Bye.” The two said and left. Akshat came back to the room and saw Jesus still standing where he had left him.

“Jesus, Lord. Are you alright?” The man looked up and asked.

“Who’s Jesus?” Akshat was taken aback. Maybe the man in front of him really was just a normal crazy guy.

“The policemen said that you were calling yourself Jesus when they found you.”

“What? No! I was trying to tell them that I am God’s son. I am reborn to help them to salvation. My name is Yeshua.” The man replied.

“Oh. Of course. I forgot.” Akshat said chiding himself.

“So, you don’t think I am crazy.” Yeshua asked, still a little uncertain.

“I don’t. I think you are who you say you are but you have not kept up with the times, my lord.”

“I feel the same way. I am sorry, I don’t know your name.”

“Akshat.”

“What should I do then Akshat?”

“You should get an orientation. I have already assigned you a mentor and he will help you in understanding the current situation in the world.”

“Oh. Ok.” Yeshua said.

Akshat took him to a breakout area. Around 5–6 people were sitting in the area. There were two women — one was wearing a sari while another was wearing a long robe. The men were of various shapes and sizes. One man had a pet eagle which he was stroking gently. A couple of people were playing a video game on a television. One man had a Jackal tattooed in his arm with a big A on top of it while the other one was wearing a locket with a trident. Another television was showing news with two old men watching it.

“Thor looks mighty fine, I must say.” The old man with an eyepatch said.

“Yes. He does.” Another old man with long white beard and white flowing hair responded.

“Odin… Brahma… This is Yeshua. He has joined in today.”

“Great to see you boy.” Odin replied.

“You people are here, in a mental institution.”

“Hahaha… It is an institution but not a mental one.” Brahma replied. “It is more like a school for people with special origins. Akshat borrowed the idea from X-Men. You can call me Professor X too if you want.” He said laughing.

“You will be Beast, Brahma.” Odin taunted Brahma.

“But why?” Yeshua asked confused.

“They will explain it all to you in detail. I have some other work however. I will take your leave.” Akshat said and left.

“Bye.” Yeshua said and then turned to the two old men.

“So, I am not a prisoner?” He asked.

“Prisoner! Hahaha. You are cute.” Odin chuckled.

“No boy. We will train you to understand the ways of the world so that you can change the world in the way it can be changed.” Brahma said.

“Yes. The world doesn’t like Gods anymore. They usually come in the way of religion for most people.” Odin said.

“What do you mean? Isn’t the two things same anymore?”

“You died too young kid. The two things were never the same. God is what created the humans. Religion is what kills them.”

“I thought I killed the humans.” A man shouted in a husky voice. Tall, dark with a shade of blue around the neck and piercing eyes that could burn, the man entered wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He was puffing a joint and smiled looking at the three.

“You are back early this week. Yeshua, this is Shiva. He is the God of actually a lot of things but he prefers to be called the God of destruction.”

“I know. I heard.” Yeshua said, a little apprehensive. He had heard of Shiva’s temper and did not intend to be on his bad side.

“New kid.” Shiva asked the two and they nodded. “Relax kid. Its a fun world out there. You just have to adjust a bit.” Shiva said taking a long drag.

“What is happening? Someone please help me understand.” Yeshua said a little frustrated.

“You guys didn’t explain it yet.” Shiva asked.

“We were about to when you walked in.” Odin huffed.

“Go ahead then.” Shiva said and went towards the ladies. He kissed the woman in the sari and spoke something in her ear. She giggled and nodded and went back to talking to the other woman. Shiva then moved to the two people playing video games and started chatting with them.

“His wife.” Brahma said as Yeshua looked at him quizzically.

“Anyways, orientation time. Sit down kid.” Odin said.

Yeshua sat down in front of the two old deities.

“The world has changed and it doesn’t accept Gods. A lot of Gods when come on Earth are either chided or are considered crazy.” Brahma started.

“Come to think of it, this all started with you kid.” Odin said grinning at Yeshua. Yeshua looked down not meeting his eyes.

“Its not your fault. People are… ahem… complicated. You give them free will and they are going to make bad choices.” Brahma said.

“Yeah. So, me and Brahma decided to do something about it.” Odin started but got interrupted by Brahma.

“Alright! Akshat decided to do something about it. He started this place and asked me and Brahma for help. We were free too so decided to chime in. Old folks helping out the new Gods to understand how the world works so that they can change it without getting thrown into asylums or prisons or worse, getting killed.”

“And how does that work?” Yeshua asked curiously.

“You play the game as per the human rules and then because you are a God, you beat the bad ones. So, it is kind becoming a super hero.” Odin said.

“More like big impactful personalities.”

“Yeah. Take Thor for instance. He is trying to change millions of lives by taking a direction no one dared to take.” Odin said pointing at the screen, his chest puffed with pride.

“He is making electric cars.” Yeshua asked skeptically.

“Yeah. The boy can’t keep himself away from lightening for some reason.” Odin said, laughing.

“Similarly, Apollo first became the richest man in the world and these days focuses on removing diseases in Africa. Ra and Zeus are working together. They have created a company with the motto — Do no evil. As if anyone believes that.” Brahma said.

“So, basically all rich people are Gods?” Yeshua asked.

“What, heck no! Some went into art, others went into other fields. They just ensure that they give direction to the human society in a positive way. Everything remains the same, the only downside being you are not called a god anymore. Some will call you a genius, other will call you a miracle and many would call you a God’s gift but no one of us is called Gods anymore.” Brahma said.

“Except for that one guy.” Odin said.

“Yeah.” Brahma replied.

“Who?” Yeshua asked curious.

“There is this one god — I won’t name him — but he decided to go into sports and that too a game played by like 10 countries — cricket, it is called. Everyone of us laughed at him and now, he is the only one called God.”

“Wow!” Yeshua said.

“Yeah. Didn’t see that one coming.” Odin said.

“So, basically, take a week here. Understand the world, talk to a few people here who live in the society and then take up an identity that you feel you can pull off.” Brahma summarised.

“Any questions, kid?” Odin asked.

“One more — who is Akshat? I mean I don’t think he is a human.”

Odin laughed in a booming voice, Brahma too smiled. The others looked towards them expectedly.

“What happened?” The woman in the robe asked.

“Athena, he is asking that who is Akshat.” Odin said in between tears.

The others also joined in with the the two old men. Yeshua looked at them confused. Brahma finally said.

“We thought you knew, or at least should have guessed till now. He is your old frenemy.”

“Frenemy?”

“Friend and Enemy.” Odin said. “What is the name of this place, kid?” He continued.

“Morning Star Institution. But what does that… Oh!” Yeshua said and smiled.