Illustration of Lord Vishnu

Artwork by Rueed (Wallpaperuse: Creative Commons)

After Going to Foreign Only I Saw Lord Vishnu

Sumitra Singam

Senthil is telling he is now Lord Vishnu [1] and I must do puja [2] to him daily, early-early after head bath. [3] When he is talking, I must hold my hands under his mouth because pearls will fall. He is telling I cannot see the pearls because now I am eating non-veg, so I am not pure anymore.

Ramasami Boss gives me one tight slap if Senthil isn’t ready when he comes to pick us up at four a.m. to cut the onions, peel the small-small garlic, cut the vegetables, cut the meat, scrape the coconuts, squeeze the coconut milk, squeeze the tamarind juice, wash all the dishes before the chef comes at five a.m.

Senthil says he is Lord Vishnu how to do all this menial work?

Ramasami Boss says he must be holding my wages because I gave the recommendation for Senthil. But I must give, isn’t it? Senthil is from my village. He has wife-and-three-sons. Also some daughters. Also has small house [4] in the next village with Panirselvan’s youngest daughter, but nobody knows about that.

So, I am telling to Senthil, “Of course my Lord. It is only I your humble servant and devotee Narada [5] and I am slowly singing the Suprabhatham [6] only to wake you from your divine slumber.” If I say nice-nice, Senthil will wear shirt-pant and come to work. Underwear and all is a bit difficult for Gods.

Inside restaurant kitchen, Senthil likes to sit on the nice customer chair – very expensive with red velvet lining all. Lucky Ramasami Boss cannot see. I must fast-fast do the work for two people. Unfair isn’t it? If he is Vishnu, must be he has four hands, so how come I am the one who is working double time?

Ramasami Boss is paying me and Senthil same money only. I told Senthil I am not very happy, but he said to me, “My Narada, I have been witnessing all this time the terrible treatment of one certain Mr Ramasami towards you, and don’t worry even little bit, I am arranging one nice piece of karma [7] for him.” While I am waiting for the karma, my fingers are all becoming like my Bhanu’s chillies drying in the sun – shrivelled and wrinkled.

Ramasami Boss picks us up finally only at ten p.m. in the night after all the cleaning and sweeping and mopping. In foreign they eat very dirty and messy it seems. When Boss comes, Senthil is still sitting in the nice chair, and Boss getting very angry, and saying all sorts of non-veg words. Then he is raising his hand, about to give Senthil one tight slap. And then I also cannot believe it - Senthil is becoming a giant Vishnu, tall and handsome and his divine light so bright like the sun itself. Then beautiful, shining pearls fall from his mouth – “Ramasami, I have given you many chances and yet you persist in living a life of adharma. [8] There is nothing for it but to sentence you to death!” Lord Vishnu raises his deadly discus in one of his four hands, and aims it right at Ramasami Boss’s neck. But Boss falls to his knees and pleads just like my little boy Guna pleads for Bhanu’s laddoos. [9] Lord Vishnu asks me, “Faithful Narada, should we spare this grovelling man?” First-first I cannot talk because I am little bit frightened, and also because I am collecting the pearls, but Lord Vishnu is smiling very nicely only, so I say, “My Lord, I think maybe ask him to give double-triple pay, and every day do puja for you, then maybe we can let him go.”

Lord Vishnu nods, then he carries me like I carried my little Guna when he was a baby, and I tell you it is better than even going on the plane to come to foreign. Lord Vishnu tells Ramasami Boss, “We have spoken, see it is done.” Ramasami Boss is nodding and nodding like Bhanu’s bobblehead doll, and Lord Vishnu takes me all the way back to my village to my Bhanu and my Guna. Overall, this is the best day of my life.


[1] Lord Vishnu – One of the Hindu trinity of divinity, the divine preserver

[2] Puja – the act of Hindu worship, often involving mantras, incense and holy fire.

[3] Head bath – Indian colloquialism for hair-washing

[4] Small house – direct translation from the Tamil meaning a second, extra-marital household

[5] Narada – famed devotee of Lord Vishnu, a travelling musician and story-teller, often provocative in nature

[6] Suprabhatham – Sanskrit prayer recited in the morning to awaken divinity

[7] Karma – the  Hindu law of fate, decided upon by a person’s actions through previous lifetimes

[8] Adharma – Sanskrit word meaning immoral or sinful

[9] Laddoo – Indian spherical sweet made of flour, jaggery and ghee

Sumitra is a Malaysian-Indian-Australian coconut who writes in Naarm/Melbourne. She travelled through many spaces, both beautiful and traumatic to get there, and writes to make sense of her experiences. She’ll be the one in the kitchen making chai (where’s your cardamom?). She works in mental health. 

Twitter: @pleomorphic2