“My Tryst With God”
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“My Tryst With God”
( Sarbjit Singh )
I was born in a Sikh family and religion was an integral and important part of life. My father was an eye doctor and my mother was a convent educated girl from Malaya (now Malaysia). Though important, our religious rituals didn’t go beyond getting together in the evenings and reciting from the “Nitnem Gutka”, a collection of five religious prayers. My father however, did try to read through a couple of pages of the Guru Granth Sahib, the religious book of the Sikhs every day. Though religious minded or should I say spiritual, he was not a fanatic and believed in interpreting religion logically.
I was a very curious kid from ever since I remember and wanted answers to all that happened around me. My father would try to answer my questions whenever he had the time. Besides medicine, he had varied interests like music, photography, poetry, gadgets and even hunting. I would ask questions on whatever I found him doing. He would be able to answer me to my satisfaction most of the time.
As I grew older, my curiosity towards God, issues on religious rituals and moralities also grew. I also started to get fascinated by the universe. Meanwhile, at the age of eight, I was sent to a boarding school. There I lost out on the evening prayers that we as a family used to sit through.
Around the age of 12 years, I started to question the existence of God. There were many questions about Him that were not being answered to the satisfaction of my curious, logic seeking and science oriented mind.
My grandfather who was a dispenser in a government hospital but by then retired, once called me to him and asked me a question. “If you are passing through a jungle and on the path you find a five paisa coin and a little distance later a ten paisa coin and some more coins as you walk along the path, what would you think?” “I would think that someone’s pant pocket has a hole and he is spilling his coins as he is going his way,” I said. “Good,” said my grandfather.”Now imagine, you find a ten paisa coin at every one foot over the next ten feet, what would you conclude?” he continued. “Simple,” I said.”I would imagine someone has, on purpose, put those coins there.” “Brilliant,” said my grandfather. And then he said something which made me stop and ponder.”If you notice around you, you’ll see some kind of system and some kind of symmetry everywhere. Every morning the sun rises and is followed by night as it sets. We all have two eyes, one nose, four limbs and so on. You’ll see a certain order to everything. Who is keeping that order? Who is making sure there is no chaos?” As a twelve years or so old kid, I did start to believe that it has to be someone and that someone must be God.
As time passed, science took over as the one trying to quench my thirst for answers to many of my unending questions. I was starting to understand the science behind the order in our physical world and beyond. A divine force was being replaced slowly but surely by the gravitational forces and other laws in science. I started to have my doubts about God again.
As I journeyed through my teens and being quite a loner enjoying my own company most. I had only a couple of friends but I enjoyed most when I was with myself and my thoughts. Studies had become everything as I was to follow my father’s footsteps and become a doctor.
At the age of 17 years, I managed to get into a totally new world when I joined medical college. First few months or so were great as I could catch up with all the lost time for music, sports and other extracurricular activities that I had missed during my premedical days.
Slowly life started to become tough, unpredictable and seemed to be going out of my control. Friends were there only for minuscule of the long days. I started to feel the need of some company into which I fitted well. That wasn’t happening and I started to feel more and more lonely, edgy and somewhat depressed. To get a grip of my time after classes, I thought of starting to go to a Sikh temple (Gurdwara) every evening and in just a few days, I started to feel that my life was back on track. Before I realised it, I was beginning to believe in God. In my thoughts, I would discuss with Him my issues and problems and felt great again. God had become my imaginary friend. If ever a discussion about the existence or otherwise of God happened, I would be the first to defend Him.
I passed my basic medicine and joined a district hospital as an intern for my practical training. I got myself quite engrossed in my training and all seemed hunky-dory.
One day, my mother,whom I infinitely loved, become unwell. I came home that evening. We had no idea what was in store for us the next morning. My father and I took her to a well known hospital for check up. Whilst in the casualty, my mother had a massive heart attack. There was no senior medical officer or a specialist to handle her. The others we didn’t see. I took it to myself her to give her CPR. My mothers eyes had closed by now and I could see her blur face as I looked through the tears in my eyes. I was pleading with God to give her back to us as I kept giving her cardiac massage. I was thinking, if there is anything like a God, we’ll get back our mother.
After sometime, which seemed eternity to me, I was taken away by the hospital staff. That was the day I lost God or was it that God lost me?
It wasn’t easy days and nights ahead. My father was a shattered man and I was his only company. My other siblings were all married.
About a year and a half after my mother passed away, I got married and had a son and a daughter. My wife and both my children brought back a smile and a meaning to my father’s life. Times seemed to be looking up again.
About four years had passed since my mother left. We were slowly but surely limping back to happiness. The fear of losing someone had however kept God in the loop.
As if destiny wasn’t done with us as yet, one fine day, my father drove to another town to appear in a court as an expert witness. Sunil Dutt, a famous Indian movie star and by then a politician was taking a peace march to Amritsar and was passing by near our place. My father had to take a detour and on the road which he would never have taken, met with an accident and died.
Our whole world had come crashing down. We as a family, brothers and sisters had suddenly been orphaned. All my plans of going overseas for further education were blown away in an instant. I had just joined my father after my post graduation but had not yet established myself professionally.
Some inner strength or was it the fear of disintegration that helped me pass through those dark hours, days, weeks and months. I wouldn’t even look at my father’s photograph lest I became weak.
Many winters have passed since. Time has healed to some extent many of the wounds, both physical and psychological that I suffered. My wife and kids have been an unending source of courage, joy and happiness.
As for God, my father’s demise was the last nail in His Coffin.
( Sarbjit Singh )