I wasn’t born into any religion.
My dad studied to be a priest till his early teens, then gave everything up to run a family at 15 or 16 when his father died, cos the elder brother was a junkie, and the younger one was too young.
His run with religion ended early when he was working and studying 20 hours a day to support a family and make something of himself at the same time.
Fast forward to 20 years later – wife and 2 sons, decent job and a comfortable life in Muscat, Oman.
One fine day, peer pressure and Mom’s constant nagging got him to enroll me to church for the ‘Vacation Bible Studies’. This is what religious folks in Muscat and the other Gulf countries put their kids in during summer vacation just so there would be a lesser mess at home. Except Saudi i think. In Saudi that’s probably asking for a public stoning.
I had missed a few classes, so when I was dropped off on my first day, I was a little tense, to say the least, walking into a church-hall, 500 kids already there, eyeing the new kid that’s late.
Kids between 5 – 8 all huddled in groups, some colouring books, some reading paragraphs, all being monitored by teachers walking around. Strange sight, if you ask me.
I was handed over to a group, where the lovely lady made the effort of introducing me to the rest, and asked me what I knew about the bible? I was both surprised and relieved there was no priest around.
I just shrugged, having only heard of the bible as that book my Grandma laid her hand on while mumbling to herself, something I had observed only on my alternate summer vacations to India.
The teacher handed me a chocolate (which I gobbled up without even saying thanks) and my first assignment, a colouring book, the first page of which had some dotted lines, which upon joining brought out Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Two people I’d never heard of, in a place I’d probably never visit.
I was great with art as a kid. I had a great sense of lines, colours, and steady fingers. Things I’d pay for, todaySo I spent 2 hours on that page, salvaging crayons from around my little spot, borrowing colors that I thought would make my teacher proud. Two hours to impress the lovely lady, and probably around 400 out of the 500 kids. I KNEW many would be jealous of me as soon as I was done.
And I handed over my assignment, my first ever lesson in religion, to the teacher I’d already half fallen in love with.
“What is THIS?!?”, she squealed in a pitch few octaves higher than her regular tone, “Adam and Eve didn’t have clothes, stupid boy!”
My world froze, I was dizzy, 500 kids were laughing. That teacher was confused. Not as much as I was, but nonetheless.
Why didn’t Adam & Eve have clothes? WTF?!? What perverts! I’d like to go there!!
I didn’t have the heart, or the voice to ask questions. With tears welled up in my eyes and some falling into the crayons lying at my feet, I ran out that hall into the garden, behind some bushes, to wail.
I waited till dad’s car appeared around the bend some half hour later, and made a dash for it.
My parents couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me for 2 days, till my dad decided to go talk to the teacher.
He came home and made himself a scotch and told Mom about it and continued with his life. Mom told me why Adam & Eve didn’t have clothes. The whole thing was hard for me to comprehend. I didn’t want anything to do with the bible, anymore.
Or ANY religion, for that matter.
It ended there.
This is kinda what my Adam & Eve looked like, minus the Umbrella, ella, ella, aye, aye.