"Ma'am, Prabhu here doesn't believe in God" he said.
He was a typical specimen I was forced to spend school-life with. Uglier in the same uniform with an expression displaying unfathomable levels of stupidity and cruelty. There are numerous ways a nine year old can mess with another. I don't recall what I had done. It could have been something as mundane like flicking his pencil. The vindictive rascal gets back at me by putting me in a spot in value education class. He was a clever chap, I must grant him that. That "gotcha" grimace of his made it clear that he understood putting me in a spot where I had to explain myself to the rest of the class was more painful than socking me in the jaw.
The teacher was waiting with an unasked why. The class was teeming with rebuttals to whatever smartass logical arguments I may make - just that I had none. It was something that happened. As a nine year who could spell agnostic, things were never going to be smooth. So in a whiff of public speaking genius I went for the incredible. A story. A friend, I said, was terminally ill and I prayed fervently that he be saved. God, I ended my macabre story, did not. And there ended my relationship with the alleged Omnipotent.
That instant concoction served two purposes. The second being it put the fear of God into anyone who ever wanted to befriend me. But first, it started off a long history of suiting myself to the audience's understanding and presenting lies with skillfully masked condescension. It is perhaps no coincidence that I am "gainfully employed" today.But to be fair to myself it was a bid to deflect conversation back to the realm of the familiar. Everyone is happpy. The teacher got her cue for the "goodness" and "sometimes thing happen but faith is...." spiel. She generously let me be with the hope that I'd come around. I nodded with understanding. Perhaps the girls had their hankies out, I wasn't crafty enough to make the most of such things (now see how I craftily use past tense). I shot a sideways glance at my assailant. Things had quite obviously not gone his way.
That was when he got me into something I could never hiope to get myself out of: "Ma'am he also said that.... Wasim Akram is God".
Damn ! I always chose the wrong person to come out of the closet to. There was no explaining that to folks who did not see it for themselves this very day 17 years ago...