The bubbly quartet walked in and took their usual nook in the terrace bar. Eeny just glanced at the menu and ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon, a suave name for a wine, and along with it, some hors d’oeuvres, a sophisticated name for chakhna.
“Supreme Court finally allows women inside that temple,” started Eeny.
Meeny, who had never been to a temple in her life, rolled up her eyes. “Why would anyone go to a temple? It is oh-so-superstitious,” she commented.
“What is that on your wrist, Meeny?” asked Moh nonchalantly.
“Oh, this is an amulet,” said Meeny, and added, tongue firmly in cheek, “it brings good luck to anyone who wears it. I am very spiritual.”
Mynie, meanwhile, twisted her face with disgust as she considered her last visit to a temple when she was just four years old as a trauma that she did not want to forget. She had hated elephants since then, or at least she claimed that to anyone who was willing to listen to her.
“The decision by the Court is not just about you or me, fellas,” said Eeny, and then continued after a pause, “it is for all Hindu women who have been oppressed for centuries by the inherent patisserie.”
“Patisserie?” asked Moh, suddenly feeling hungry on hearing the word. “Oh! You mean patriarchy?”
“Whatever!” said Eeny, which was her usual response when someone tried to correct her.
Moh was the only one in the quartet who had been to a temple in the last year or so. She felt that she had to correct the inane ideas that her friends had about temples. She said with some passion, “It is just one temple where women are not allowed, folks, just one temple in literally millions that are out there.”
If Eeny and Meeny were surprised to hear that there are millions of temples, they did not show it on their faces.
“The reason women are barred from the temple is that the god is celibate,” explained Moh, and immediately changed celibate to bachelor as she knew her friends wouldn’t know what celibate or celibacy was.
“It’s a victory for the oppressed Hindu women,” insisted Meeny, completely ignoring Moh.
“Amen to that,” said Eeny, raising her glass of wine, almost empty.
Mynie giggled on hearing the word. “It’s pronounced Aman, Eeny, not Aye-men.”
Eeny, who knew about Mynie’s love for everything Aman, just smiled.
“Why don’t we plan a trip to that place?” asked Eeny out of the blue.
Meeny was utterly surprised. Moh was utterly shocked. Mynie simply turned up her nose with utter disgust.
“To a temple? Are you serious?” asked Meeny, incredulity written all over her face.
“You can’t just go to that place,” countered Moh. “It’s not that easy to reach there.”
“It’s no longer a temple, babes,” said Eeny, as if scoring a point, and then using her tertiary knowledge of the judgment that she had gathered from some WhatsApp group, scored one more point by saying, “the Court said that it is a public place, and a public place can have no rules whatsoever.”
“What rules does this place have otherwise?” asked Meeny.
“For one, there is a strict dress code – you cannot just wear anything, like jeans and tee, and go in,” said Moh. “You also have to fast for days, and of course, you cannot go inside if you are on your periods.”
“How will they ever find out?” asked Eeny, scoring one more.
Mynie giggled at this. She raised her hand and asked for a Bloody Mary.
“Well, there are no longer any rules,” said Eeny with some force, “and we can eat anything and wear anything. Who is going to stop us?”
Mynie, who was otherwise not interested, thought this a good opportunity to talk about her wardrobe. “Oh! In that case, I have that LBD that I have been thinking to wear for months, and you know that nice pair of Choos that I got from San Francisco?”
Meeny suddenly asked, “Are all temples public places, then?”
“What applies to one should apply to others too,” said Eeny. She was getting good at scoring a point.
“In that case,” quipped Moh, “would mosques and churches be public places too?”
“They are religious places, Moh!” said Eeny and Meeny together in one voice, and in a tone that evidently indicated their sorry assessment of their friend’s intelligence.
“What are temples then?” asked Moh, unfazed.
“Public places,” said Eeny without batting her made-up eyelids. The judgment on Sabarimala had, evidently, settled this debate once and for all by erasing whatever divinity a temple was associated with and replacing it with some form of pedestrian utility.
“We would be celebrities, you know if we are the first to go there,” said Meeny, dreaming about possible interviews that she would give to glossy magazines.
“Let’s plan then,” said Eeny resolutely.
“God’s Own Country,” said Meeny, her eyes shifting their dream from glossy magazines to backwaters and coconut trees (but not coconut oil, for that was poisonous).
God, however, was in no mood to correct this delusion that many people, including many in that state, harboured.
Moh was, once again, seething with fury inside. She wanted to yell at her stupid friends. She wanted to slap some sense into their superficial minds, but they had always been good to her. And the Cabernet today was especially…
As Eeny, Meeny, and Mynie were planning their trip to fame, Moh tried to ignore them and poured herself some more wine. She picked up a black olive from the bowl with her fork. It went well with the wine.
The iPhone on the table vibrated. Eeny picked it up and read the WhatsApp message.
“Get your candles tonight, fellas,” she said to the others.