God was full of wine last night,
So full of wine that he let a great secret slip.
He said, there is no man on this earth who needs a pardon from me,
for there is really no such thing, no such thing as sin.
— a loose translation of Hafiz
C’s parents’ two-storey house in Lake Vista had its entire first floor flooded during The Great Deluge. As soon as they were able to get back to New Orleans, D and B painstakingly gathered all of their valuable possessions that survived – silver, decades’ worth of family photographs, art, other heirlooms – and placed them all in one of those “safe” storage pods. Once they moved into a small place in MidCity by the Fairgrounds, the pod sat outside on the street while the couple searched for storage space.
This past Friday morning, D and B woke up to find that the pod had vanished overnight. All the police had to say about it was, “Sorry, tough luck.” It is a big city.
Someone drove up in the middle of the night, forklifted an entire pod into a truck large enough to hold it and took it away. If you have those kinds of resources, why steal? What sort of person do you have to be to go to that length to take someone else’s personal belongings?
And of what value are someone else’s personal photographs, kids’ school trophies, wedding dresses and other mementos to you? They’ll just get thrown out. “Cast aside.”
It makes me wonder what the plunderers of my Kuwaiti home did with all of our books, keepsakes and family photographs of 30 years? Insufferable thieves, invaders of personal space, take the money and silver, just leave the real items of value like the christening gowns, ornaments, and other such items.
I want to get C’s mom something to make her feel better, or cook her a nice Indian meal to remind her that she is loved and that the most important things, her family and friends, survived the storm. But, it is her right to despair over her missing treasures and I don’t know what to do that does not seem trite. After my mom found out that all of her things were gone, she rebuked material possessions for years. It made her sick to replace what she once owned and built up over a long time. Besides, how does one replace or grow antiques handed down from generation to generation?
Corporal punishment in the high noon of Jackson Square sounds better by the minute.As unscientific and unsophisticated as it sounds, stories like this also make me want to believe in the concepts of sin and afterlife retribution. As a Hindu, however, I am less likely to indulge in the Hadean punitive, and more so in simple accountability and the repayment of all debt, whether in this life or the next, until the final release from the cycle.
The kicker: What’s good for the aforementioned wrong-doers is also good for me. If they pay in this life or the one after, so do I for my own trespasses. And all I’ve ever wanted from my maker is forgiveness. For what I hope the divine does better than great vengeance and furious anger is mercy, of which a lot of us corporeals are incapable.
None of this ire will bring back stolen property, nor will it protect the rest of the pods that litter this cityscape. I hope these looters realize that an “everybody for themselves, f*** your neighbor” mentality is a pretty hideous way to live.