One of Brahma’s mouths yawned, much to the annoyance of the other three. The mouth was the one farthest from Vishnu and Shiva, and hence went unnoticed.
“Dude, this is not what we wanted,” Vishnu uttered.
Shiva did not say anything. He ran a finger down his bright, poison-blue throat. The colour was a new addition to his physique, and suited him well. The pride on his handsome face was unmistakable.
When people on Earth had decided to name pencils after the most attractive celestial beings, they had chosen Shiva along with the nymphs. Even children had caught on to the magic of Nataraj and Apsara.
Brahma was bored. “What is this all about?”
Vishnu spoke again, his voice leaden with anxiety. If Shiva had a blue throat, Vishnu was completely blue, the shade depending on the calendar on which he featured.
“We have to solve this issue with the amrit.”
“Amrit. Amrit. Ambrosia. The syrup, you know? I wish we had another name for it. God's Food, for example.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” replied Shiva. The sarcasm in his voice was unmistakable.
“Dude, I know you had to digest the poison and all to save the world, but this is serious.”
“Yeah, and whose job was it? Mate, I’m The Destroyer, not The Preserver. It was your responsibility to deal with the poison,” Shiva snapped back.
Brahma nodded in agreement. Vishnu sighed.
“Listen, guys, I know it was my responsibility. I should have consumed the poison.”
“It would not have changed your complexion either,” one of Brahma’s mouths responded, “unlike our true-blue friend over there.”
Brahma and his puns, thought an irritated Vishnu. He had a one-off job that he got over with thousands of years back; why does he enjoy the same status as me?
“Let us get serious. You know, I have been giving this amrit thing some serious thought. I know we tricked the asurs into letting us keep it ourselves, but remember how Rahu saw through all that? Had it not been for Surya and Chandra...”
“What exactly is your point here? The Gods have all got their quota of amrit and are immortal these days, which means they are infallible. What is the question?” The annoyance in Shiva’s voice was unmistakable.
Vishnu sighed. “Don’t you get it? There are gallons of leftovers from the amrit we had churned.”
“What is this gallon thing?” asked Brahma. He was bored, very bored.
“It must be one of those new fads on Earth,” responded Shiva. “He comes up with some new jargon. This Parashuram avatar is getting on my nerves, what with his perpetually increasing vocabulary that he keeps transmitting.”
“Why are you always after Porsche?” Vishnu demanded. He even sounded hurt. “He was sent, I mean, I sent myself as him, with a purpose.”
“Can we get to the point?” Brahma’s voice sounded sleepy. He hated it when his two-year power nap was delayed. All he wanted to do was to nestle himself inside the lotus.
“He was going about amrit,” said Shiva, “about there being a surplus.”
“Precisely. The question is, what do we do with the surplus?”
“Why can’t we drink it ourselves? It is delicious...”
“Because we cannot have too much of amrit: it comes with numerous side-effects.”
“I am not sure, but the doctors told me that there are symptoms. An excess of amrit does not go with our systems. We need to digest it first, and it takes 33 Earth-years to digest one mouthful.”
“Can it be destroyed?”
“No. That is the whole point about it. The question is, how do we stop the asurs from stealing it?”
“I see your point. We need to hide it somewhere.”
“For 33 Earth-years.”
“What do we do after 33 Earth-years?”
“Drink what is left. We will be ready to consume it after 33 Earth-years, remember? That way it will be done and dusted with, and we will remain immortal and the asurs will never stand a chance.”
“Where do we hide it?”
“What do you think, Brahma?”
Brahma woke up from his stupor. He had not heard a thing, but he knew a thing or two about keywords — a practice that was slowly being adopted in corporate meetings on the third planet of the Solar System.
They were discussing a hiding place for the ambrosia.
“I do not think Heaven is the best possible place, for it is raided far too often.”
For once, Shiva sounded genuinely curious: “What do you suggest?”
“I think you should send it down — there!”
Shiva and Vishnu followed Brahma’s index finger, now ancient with age.
“What?” Vishnu looked scandalised. “That is impossible! Do you realise how unsafe it will be? Humans or animals may track it down, and immortality will not remain our monopoly. That’s outrageous!”
“No, hear me out. I have a plan. I was having a conversation with the research wing the other day. They told me that the immortality property of amrit can be time-deactivated. We will do that and send it down to Earth for 33 Earth-years.”
“Why not keep it here, then?” Shiva demanded. “Even if the asurs manage to find it, they will never benefit from it.”
Vishnu intervened: “I think I know what Brahma is getting at. The asurs have their own group of researchers who can reactivate it. Down there they are not aware of the concept. The group of human scientists cannot really match those in heaven or hell. There is no chance of anybody getting to know of amrit, let alone benefit from it.”
“I think we are taking advantage of them.” Shiva’s voice was suddenly more defiant now. “We are using humans for our benefit. We are Gods. We are supposed to be noble. This is beneath us. I think we should give them something in return.”
The silence was uncomfortable. For the first time they were thinking on the same lines.
“That is fine,” smiled Brahma. “We are not taking away the taste. How often do the poor guys get the flavour of something divine? Let them drink amrit. The idea is to dispose of it. Let them have their fill. Once those 33 Earth-years are up we will get it back.”
There was a collective sigh, and Vishnu and Shiva’s mouths curled into smiles — smiles that have won women over millennia.
“Let us get over with the plan first. We also need to change its appearance. The golden liquid is too suspicious even for a race familiar with honey,” Vishnu added. “We can make a paste.”
“Or grind it into powder, more deceptive,” Shiva suggested hopefully.
“And change the colour as well,” Vishnu contributed.
“I think we should decide on a brown powder. It sounds inconspicuous enough.”
“But how to send it down there?” Shiva asked. “And what if it goes bad?”
“Oh, leave that to me,” Vishnu said. “I am The Preserver. I will add the best possible preservatives. I will also get it packed in small shiny boxes and convince some organisation to place them inside their packaged food.”
Brahma sounded relieved. “That is the plan, then. This is 1982 on Earth, which means...”
“Yes, it will have to be 2015,” Vishnu interrupted. “But how do we convince the humans to give it back?”
Shiva smiled. “Oh, that is the easy part. We will spread rumours that there is something poisonous in that brown powder — lead, for example. Once the news spreads the organisations will have to recall it from the market and dispose of it.”