It was the annual elections at our Club to elect the President, Secretary, Treasurer and 9 members of the Executive Committee. A friend of mine who has been playing badminton with me for several years was contesting for the Treasurer’s post. He had lost three times in the past. This time his pleas were pathetic. “I feel very bad, Sridhar. I need to win this election at least to salvage what is left of my reputation.” It was a call for help. I and all his other friends passionately responded. We formed ourselves into a task force and laid down the strategy. In the next ten days we would have virtually called all the thousand plus members of the Club at least two times. On the election day I was in the booth half an hour before polling started. I proudly wore a badge proclaiming my support to my friend. I met everybody who came to vote and requested them to support my friend. The members were surprised. For during my fifteen years of membership never have I so openly supported anybody’s candidature in the club-elections. I was also booed and at times even insulted by the opposite group. I was threatened by a friend of the opposing candidate. Bad words were hurled at me. I was jeered. I cared a damn. I had done my home-work. I had dug into my friend’s past and found out he was a clean man. The only problem with him was that he was brutally frank. And my only suggestion to him was to continue to be frank without being brutal. The voting was over at 2: 30 in the afternoon. My friend was exhausted. He did not have the emotional strength to wait for the results. He took me to the Election Officer and told him that I would be his representative during counting. Around 4 the counting started. The representative of the opposing candidate and I sat next to each other. Before us the ballot boxes were emptied. In the presence of the Election Officer a staff member of the club showed us every vote before putting it in the right box. At first the opponent appeared to be leading. I was crestfallen. The opponent’s representative told me in a whisper, “Don’t lose heart, Sridhar. You have done tremendous work. God won’t let you down.” These words came right from the mouth of the opponent. I was floored. I had to struggle hard to control my tears. Soon the trend started to change. Now for every vote the opponent gained we gained one. And the trend continued with greater intensity. It was 2:1 in our favour. By 4 45 the final tally was out. We had won by 109 votes. The largest margin ever in the recent history of the Club. I called my friend to announce the result. He was too emotional to speak. The election is over. What about the expectation? Two days back when I drove in to the club I was really happy to see my friend’s Volkswagen Polo parked in the lot reserved for the Club Treasurer. I felt I have been amply rewarded for my efforts. Honestly I did not expect anything from him. Not even administrative reforms. Expecting any return benefit from him would have made the friendship of several years a mere sham. Political elections are different. They are all about politicians. Let’s not talk about them now. We’ll deal with them in our next Zoology class. Suppose my friend were to give me a wad of currencies, “Sridhar, this is for your effort”, I would have thrown the notes on his face and ended the friendship. Just think it over, ladies! When we help our friends we don’t expect them to reward us. And if the friends are really close we don’t even expect a word of thanks from them. In fact we shout at them if they utter the T word. Just helping them out and seeing them happy is the best reward for our labour. Can’t we not treat God as our friend? Why should we expect the God to reward us for our prayer, meditation, flower-throwing and camphor-showing? When we chant his name 108 times we want a halo around our face. And if it is 1008 times we want to be crowned as spiritual masters. Why? Why should we treat God with whom we share an eternal inseverable relationship worse than a friend of a few years? Andal offers the Lord at Azhagarkoil, a hundred pots of butter and a hundred pots of Akkaravadisil a delicacy made out of rice and jaggery. When we guys offer something as worthless as a half-decayed coconut and an overripe banana we want a) our nagging boss to die of AIDS b) a smooth way up the corporate ladder, or preferably through the elevator c) a spouse who is better even than Lord Rama d) hassle-free low-interest home loan and d) lots and lots of money. But what does Andal want in return for her bountiful offer? ‘If only my Lord eats what I have offered…’ We hold our breath. Was she going to ask for some favour? She melts in love. ‘If only my Lord eats what I have offered…I will give him a hundred thousand times more than what I gave. And will be his slave for all time to come.’ [FONT=TSCu_Comic] இன்று வந்து இத்தனையும் அமுது செய்திடப் பெறில் நான்[/FONT] [FONT=TSCu_Comic]ஒன்று நூறாயிரமாக் கொடுத்துப் பின்னும் ஆளும் செய்வேன்[/FONT] Let’s fall at Andal’s feet begging her to give us a millionth of her love for the Lord. And let’s welcome the Tamil New Year, Kara, with this prayer firmly embedded in our hearts. Wish you all a happy and a prosperous new year.