For a long time, I had counted myself as deeply religious before my rebellious years started to tinker with the cogs in my brain. And while Dawkins did do his magic on me like most teens, a part of me still believed that the theories of Science could coexist with those of a supreme being. And I continued to have faith. Now I wish I hadn’t.
As I sat down in front of the beautiful temple we have in our home with tears in my eyes on the midnight of 14th August 2019, I had just one question for all the deities that stood before me. “What do you want to show me?”
Being a student of medicine, the signs were clear to me, and my dad being a doctor himself knew the writing on the wall too; he was going to die. “How long do you want me to ignore all of it? How much must you test my faith?” I cried out, hoping someone would listen, yet those millions of deities seemed to be disinterested in my woes.
How did we get here?
In the morning, my dad slipped into a coma, and two days later, he passed away. Needless to say, these were the worst days of my life. However, till the end, I had faith, even though a part of me knew that there would be no miracles. When the news finally came, I remember a part of me felt like it was falling, only to regain my sense of self, wholly metamorphosed and divorced from the me who was here just a moment ago. I hadn’t just lost a parent, I had lost my faith and before I could even make sense of what had happened, not an ounce of faith remained within me.
I knew my dad didn’t deserve this. He had been far more religious than I had, spent most of his life healing people and often sacrificing much of his family life for the same. He lost his mother at a very early age and was raised by an emotionally absent father. Yet he persevered and built a great life from the ground up. A teetotaller, he never even touched a cigarette and was leading a life far healthier than mine. So why was it him?
Having faith for me meant confronting this question, and I could find no answer, for there was no answer. I loved having faith for as long as I could, the feeling of security, the sense of warmth and community, and the feeling of everlasting love, it dawned on me that faith did so much for me. Survivor’s guilt, however, manifested in me as a predilection for this dereliction, which I could only get rid of by altogether abandoning the notion of faith and God.
And so, I cannot help but feel jealous of those who were never jolted out of their beings just to return devoid of faith. I cannot help but poke fun at their suspension of disbelief, for I see in them a piece of myself, a piece of myself that I crave, but at the same time, am very cautious of. Ultimately, the only thing I can say is this; everything in life indeed is a privilege, and faith is a privilege I can no longer afford.
And it is in all the little things of life that this lack of faith rears its ugly head, be it the fact that I have nothing to chant in my head to convince myself of better luck in what slides I get in my practical exam, to the fact that there was always an uncertainty. An uncertainty that eats you on the inside; when you realise how fickle life is, how nothing is in your control and how insignificant you are when compared to the grander scheme of things, there’s no real comfort, not anymore. There’s no one to save you when things go south, in fact, there was no one to save you from it at all. Yet the illusion of it all did seem to make things a little easier.
A part of me is convinced that I can never really wander the medicine wards again with my sanity with me. The hospital memories trigger strong emotions in me, but the fact that I know no God is coming to save these patients terrifies me. As a future doctor, I would be responsible for the lives of these patients, not their God. That prospect of it all is truly terrifying, but now that my belief is in myself, and not a supreme being, I do feel confident.
And the last bit, justice. I’ve always believed myself to be self-righteous. A strong belief in God means that you think that God will bring sinners to justice. Abandoning said God implies that you have to live with the constant realisation that there is no such divine providence that’ll bring down a hammer of justice to make all things right. And that made me realise that I must stand up always for what I believe is right, even if it means ruffling a few feathers and putting myself in harm’s way.
Ultimately, the experience of losing a parent broke me, but I have pieced together a polished individual that believes in himself and his potential. An individual who feels he is in control and doesn’t need a God to rely on anymore.
After all, being abandoned leaves you with two distinct choices, either wallow in despair your entire life or get up on your own two feet and face life, one step at a time.
Written by Aditij Dhamija for MTTN
Edited by Nitya Sai T for MTTN
Featured image by Getty Images:Pascal Deloche
Artwork by Vicki Nerino