I remember the first time he had cycled up to our gate. I was sitting in the mud turning snails on their back. I collected the letters from him but continued to stand there.
"Postman-Uncle, do you deliver letters to anywhere?" I asked.
I lowered my voice before asking him, "I have a letter for God. Can you deliver it to him?"
He laughed and said, "Of course, I can."
"I will give it to you tomorrow, ok?"
The remaining day and a generous portion of the next found me under my bed, carefully preparing the first letter to the Gods. I wrote a common one for all of them. I drew the "Om" in one corner and some tiny pink flowers at the bottom. I wrote about how History was boring and the pet dog I wanted to have - why didn't they come in red? I also told him that I love him and didn't mean to steal the sweetmeats on Diwali before they were offered to him.
The postman arrived the next day and took the letter from me.
"Where is the address?" he asked.
"I thought you knew it."
He smiled and took out his pen. He wrote,
"Such a big number?"
"All the numbers are there in his pin code, son."
Somehow that made sense to me and I nodded with the seriousness of one who approves fine logic.
Every day I sat by the gate waiting for him. On the fourth day he arrived and handed me a bunch of letters. There weren't any with the name "Rahul" on it. I looked at him sadly. With a flourish, he produced a long white envelope from within his jacket.
I grabbed it from him.
I whispered a "Yes" and rushed to my room under the bed. God wrote short sentences unlike in my textbooks. He wrote in gold. I liked God. He told me why History would make me good because I will learn that wars and bombs are bad. I nodded in agreement. He also said that he was happy that I ate the sweetmeats because he had a toothache on Diwali.
Our correspondence grew very regular. I discussed school and Cartoon Network with him. He liked the same shows that I did. We gossiped about Gods and my neighbourhood. The postman said that God was very happy to receive my letters. He leaned forward and asked, "So, what do you write to him?"
I clutched the letter tightly and half turned away.
On my birthday a different postman arrived. He handed me a bunch of letters and asked, "Who's Rahul?"
"I am Rahul."
"Parcel for you."
God had remembered my birthday. I felt something long inside. A magic wand?
"Where is the other postman?"
"Kishore? He... He went to heaven."
"I know, but why didn't he come today?"
He simply stared at me. I didn't hand him God's letter. Somehow, I felt he wouldn't know God's address.
I wonder why God gifted me his gold-ink pen. My postman never returned from heaven. God and I never discussed anything, thereafter. I miss them - both.
So, you might call me an atheist but I wouldn't protest.