My mind could never accept what my family told me about God. MY could never understand how you could give up everything or dedicate everything you or achieve to some being there is no tangible proof of. But that doesnt mean I didn’t want to believe. I do. I desperately want to believe and have faith., it seemed to amke life more livable, make even the hardest thing easier to bear.
So I prayed. I loved praying through my mind told me it was pointless. That anything I had to achieve I had to put the work in and God would probably have nothing to do with it. I didn’t pray for everything, only for the things I wanted the most: the pride of my father, the envy of my family who thought I would never amount to anything, acceptance from myself.
Now, what I’m about to talk about next may seem a little more worldly than my home spun spirituality above.
In the life of every teenager, especially Indian teenagers there comes a time (tenth grade) when number really do decide your worth. Your marks in these board exams can make or break your life. If you didn’t do well people will automatically assume that you are a “good-for-nothing-dhakan-who-leaches-away-his/her-parent’s-money”. But you cannot do too well either. Because that will raise your parent’s expectations and knowing Indian parents they would have called up half the world to tell about their darling “good betta’s” sexy tenth marks. And that is just tying your own noose in advance for twelfth. Because every knows those who do well in tenth never do well in twelfth. And when you don’t, amid the sniggers of their friends and relatives your parents disappointment and shame in you will double. And then life is like one train wreck after the other. (Bad marks in twelfth mean all the dreams your parents have taught you to dream of engineering or medical colleges will go down the drain, just as your standing in society. What will the padosi say?)
Anyhow, my time has come to face this enormous obstacle of what we call life, along with about twenty other cousins who will be writing their exams along with mine just so our parents could compare the marks. I studied enough to make my butt permanently flat sitting on that hard wooden chair. And I went to write the exams. Everyday I prayed. For a calm head and a stupid world do that the bell curve would work in my favor. But from every test, I came back beaten and bruised, having whiled away my time on the first questions and panicking in the last five minutes. Things had gone very badly.
All my hopes of being the pride of my father and the envy of my relatives and even acceptance form myself came crashing down. So when I could do little else I prayed. I prayed that the results would be okay “or the very least you could do, dear God, is to make my cousin’s marks low also.”
Every week I went to church, knelt and prayed for my grades. I went through every possible reason my grades could be good on that stone cold floor of the near by cathedral, including the examiner falling asleep the their assistant or someone feeling sorry for me and giving me some extra marks here and there. I prayed for some miracle, any miracle.
And to the the surprise of my skeptical mind it worked. I passed with flying colours. My father was proud of me, my family envied me, only I couldn’t accept myself. For I knew. I knew my grades were granted to me, I had barely earned them. Why does the world do this to me? Why couldn’t I just have been happy and disregarded the hours I spent in front of the alter? And worst of all, why couldn’t I, even now, believe in the existence of God?