My family is devout xtian but has given up trying to convert me, but relatives have not.
So extended family ceremonies can be trying, particularly since i do not want to embrass anyone but more importantly do not want to get embrassed myself. This time it was worse, coz my to-be-wed cousin is a junior priest (in our community priests can marry and even have kids!)and the place was full of priests, methrans, thirumeni's and other "scum of the church”.
So I knew that a big prayer session was coming as soon as i landed up at his home. As is my habit in such occasions, i planned to walk around during the prayers and desperately hoped that my absence will not be noticed.
Ahem..i should have known better. There comes vargheese kochappan, slightly deaf and more than slightly drunk! Being slightly deaf, he likes to believe that rest of the world is deaf too. He starts off by asking (actually shouting) “who are you?”
I know i should respect age (he was ancient when i was a toddler!), but not when this question is asked immediately after the prayer (when a silence falls over the entire group as they plan out the sins they can commit now that they have taken advance absolution!).
As usual, the entire group does an about turn and stares at me. i mumble that i am his brother's wife's sister's daugther's son. He then goes like this (after editing out the expletives and translating!) “oho.. by the suspicious way u were moving about in the dark during prayer time i thought u were a thief or doing something else”.
Now i have no clue about what he meant by "something else”. Any ways, kochappan continues; "so why didn’t you join the prayer?"
I wished I was drunk enough to shout back "because I did not want to”. But being the coward that I am, I mumbled again and decided to move back to the rubber jungle where i was hiding during the prayers.
Well, if god ever had a chance to make me a believer it was then.
If only god had appeared on the skies and said "blessed are the non-believers; they seek proof of my existence and i am honored more by their questions than by the blind allegiance of you fools”
But he did not appear; did not support me when i needed his support; thus wasting the evangelical opportunity of the millennium.
Thankfully the ungles were too thirsty to enjoy this spectacle for long and slowly moved behind the cattle-shed where "drinks" were arranged. Soon all ungles got unsteady with their feet and bawdy with their songs. Aundies passed time making snide comments about the "vellamadi" habit that runs in the family.
Now there were two parallel drinking sessions going on. One the parental generation drinking openly (admission restricted to males above 50 only!). And the second, the younger generation who were making frequent trips to the toilet where a bottle of OP rum was kept!
I was graciously invited to be part of the second group. I refused because i no longer want to drink OPR in the toilet with tap water. My cousins thought i am acting "pricey". Now i got all uptight and said that i dont see why people who are 25,30 or 35 have to drink furtively when everyone knows everything. So I was left all alone; sober and uptight!
Well, a dear uncle (to whom i am eternally grateful!) saw me standing forlorn and called me to the outhouse. At the outhouse drinks had been arranged for the "representatives of god" and boy do they drink posh :). vsop brandy for the francophiles, whiskey for the colonials, anthi kallu for the swadesi's and karimeen pollichathu plus tharavu varuthathu for all!
Uncle was in the side room and in charge of supplying unlimited quantities of the above mentioned items to the main room where “men of god” were having their philosophical discussions. The nice man that he is, he made me his assistant and i finally got my due. It is fun to drink with "men of god" (albeit them not knowing i was spying) and hear the "godly" conversations.