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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mortifying Mona Lisa iii. A Curious Engagement

Two months into our relationship, we announced an engagement. It was a very simple ritual. An agreement of undying union of love, confirmed by shared strong infatuation yawning in our hearts, pointing towards the hallowed belief and mutual admiration, cemented by the swapping of our rings—we exchanged our rings through Fedex—and a few other ceremonial formalities necessary for the condensed sacrament, pledged with our joint signatures, sealed by our mutual declarations, attested by.. bla bla bla. You see? It wasn’t a full-size convention as I am making it out!

Friends and close relations discharged their due shower of goodwill messages—wishing us many happy returns on our intriguing ‘serious’ commitment. With that spirit, I introduced her to my family and off-line friends, who like my cousin, had their reservations and raised eyebrows. The following comments baptised my changed Relationship Status:

‘We disapprove of her name.’ That was my brother Kleo on Twitter. I did remind him though—and whatever ‘we’ meant—that there was no deliberation to gratify his narrowed bigotry when Cherrie Whitesugar was christened.

‘What’s her figure?’ My modelling sister CS asked. ‘Don’t matter if she can reach my heart.’ I dismissed her. I was just full of pretty answers because I had anticipated all comportments of questions to be flung at me. I could as well have been betrothed to Shylock’s daughter Jessica and conned her out of her precious Jewess ducats.

‘Who’s the unlucky lass?’ Pitied Bunny the 5th.

There were, of course, the conformists. My cousin Edd led that camp. The cultural die-hards, whose contemplations were that I would have done better to ‘engage’ a hamlet lass or my own kind because Cherrie, ‘was refined by the wisps of her verbal diarrhoea better than the breezy wiles of their arguments—if it was done in English. I reminded them that she was French.

But they detested such fervent mirages of ‘aristocrats’, such ‘antisocial strangers’, such ‘snobs of lingo’ who pronounced ‘water’ with a voiced ‘r’ instead of the usual ‘t’. They were simply saying they couldn’t understand her because she spoke as if she were chomping a hot potato in her mouth, and miserably had very little spit for the procedure.

‘No no no ! We will embrace the engagement a delusion until it emerges a dream.’ A sceptical cousin quipped.

‘After just a two months!?! Better to miss the boat by a river than to leap wildly for it and drown.’ Another update from My Space wondered. That came from cousin Jojj.

Skylark warned in my inbox. ‘Beware soul brother. Her ancestors drove our ancestors out of their prehistoric birthright with one or two signatures on a piece of paper. You are signing away your own soul.’

Mojo was distressed that an African son of soil had turned a patch to be sewn onto a White Woman’s worn miniskirt. To him, I was like the wayward child who when punished at home, tagged along a sympathising stranger off to a foreign land.


And so she went into her genealogy, and established that Adam was barely a fifth cousin in an unstructured splinter of their family—I promised you to dwell on the quintessential elements—yes, Adam of the Garden if you are like ‘WTF!’ Ancestors disposed of; she delved deep into—to my friend’s revulsion—her confidential family secrets. She verified that her maternal grandmother boasted her ancestry back to Eve, but obstinately refuted any potential hearsay that there were her relatives in the Land of Nod, where Cain, the banished son of Adam and Eve, exchanged the first marital vows in yet-to-be-recorded-history.

Her relations were Gnostics, or KNOWERS Of THE GREAT LIFE. They adorned long robes of white clothing and believed in continual water baptism—but only through immersion! DAS ILLUMNUS—their Holy Book—is in vernacular language of the Vikings—mind you it’s all written in CAPITAL LETTERS. Their speculations of DARKNESS and LIGHT border around those of Zoroastrianism and they call all rivers YARDAN. Their long-dreadlocked hair and weird dress code is tailored to preserve their allegations that they are the CHOSEN PEOPLE Of LIGHT. Most of my friends thought that she was just another Normandy star worshipper with primordial pagan inclinations.


I wasn’t as pious as my siblings—was the black sheep—and I classified myself in the background thickets of the ‘enlightened thinkers’ but believed the ghost of religion lingered around me, nevertheless, in an apparition of moderate humanism or some such slogan. For me, God was pretty much the entire earth, or rather the complete cosmos, along with the clear-cut conventions it seem conditioned to, possibly kick-started us off when he lay down the foundations and then left every man for himself in a hands-free mode or must be some kind of Newtonian clockwork God.

I was born the eldest of four children in a family that was neither rich nor poor. At school, we perfected the art of conceit and malice. We exercised snobbery to upset other students with malevolent comments and to parade a sophisticated face of superiority and apathy. Attitude approved our associations with other students. We would malign, taunt and contempt teachers throughout school day, or showed our indifference to authority through imaginary superiority.

After school, if you did not fool around in games for the indulgence of the self-image, you would dart home to watch overcooked gibberish of Mexican Soaps or weary yourself in coquetry with the opposite sex in the street and surrounding areas. We looked forward to weekends because we’d inexorably be alone at home and invite other young people of both sexes for a roguish revelry, where the perverted beastly passions set the standards.

At school, if you performed well in scholastic tests, the thumb rule for peer approval required that you justified a pretext for academic brilliance, high performance being a trademark symptom of weakness, of unwarranted reverence to ‘established’ authority. In my youth, my forlorn familiarity with religion was in the course of futile, perfunctory recitations of the Bible at morning drills in school parades, or other odd incidents. Religious chit-chats were taboo and God was mentioned with embarrassment only.

We clenched all religious convictions as a credulous crutch and every ‘intellectual’ ignored the ‘garbage’ of God. It became an accepted wisdom and our parents, teachers and elders allowed it. My grandfather was once a cleric, but still had butterflies mentioning God with honesty. During meals, he would vomit out the Grace like an android and never did he implore me even to rummage around for religion nor did he relate religion to our day-to-day lives.

At the university, I ventured discreetly with the bravery to probe these beliefs, and to expose and put across suspicions, which I had hazily felt, but had timidly even buried profoundly from myself. I respected the character and the philosophy of Jesus, but was rationally perturbed regarding the whole tale of a ‘vicarious sacrifice’ being crucial for God to sanction us to have salvation. Also it seemed to me to be impertinent to blaspheme this way, but even so I mused over it; if Jesus knew he was immortal, how could the crucifixion be as enormous a sacrifice be as immense a sacrifice as that made by any of the mortal men who died similarly for their brethren?

The crucifixion of Peter in Rome—poor Peter with his moments of human trepidation that had made him even fleetingly deny the Christ—a down to earth bloke for whom heaven was an affair of belief only, seemed more genuinely poignant to me. It was all incredibly baffling to me. Then I read ‘The Golden Bough’, and marvelled just how much of Christian values had become knotted with pagan fertility festivals—there it all was: the vicarious sacrifice of the god-man. Many students proclaimed themselves agnostics, conceding Jesus only as a mortal being, a mortal being fond of his fellow mortal beings, like Gandhi or Mandela.

When I got together with Cherrie, I was considerate to her Gnosticism, but not persuaded. I assumed that they had their own sort of insularity as Christians had theirs, and I sought for a universally oriented faith. I was not yet liberal from obstinate academic illusions about occidental religions and Gnosticism, and possibly some of the Gnostics I met had their delusions too. Naturally, when we were engaged, there was compassion between us on this essential ethical issue, but I did not like the indecent proposal of embracing another belief without full conviction, or the idea of espousing it for purposes of conflict of interest.

I joined the Gnostics, not as a member, but as a spectator, amused and marvelling at how their ideology and philosophy were more whimsical and far from consistent. As a humanist and philanthropist, I always suffered pangs of distraught at the notion that of all the children, whom their mothers give birth to after nine months of labour, and bring up with much trouble, not a single one of them is liberated from sin, according to the Gnostic dogma. Hence, every person who comes to this world is born in sin; subsist in their existence as a wretched sinner, and perishes in sin. Their deliverance is dependant on the mortal priests whose purity itself is doubtful.

My scruples could not accept as true this ridiculous wisdom, but I was constrained to consider them as a Gnostic, all the same, I craved to disembark from these manacles and on this ground; I set off to study other major religions of this world. While probing Hinduism and Buddhism, I found out that both these religions advocate the doctrine of reincarnation and of the soul’s comeback into this world in different bodies owing to sin, and thus they also believe in the intrinsic sinfulness of human life. They could not eliminate my fears nor ruffle my dilemma.


Finally, Cherrie addressed the question of woman, and the place of woman to her female ‘cousins’ as the major impulsion that even made me study Gnosticism and almost converted. It confounded all my chauvinist ideology and abashed my macho supremacy for the ‘weaker sex’ for she savours an immense eminence—I think it’s the earliest religion that predetermined the liberty of woman and safeguarded that autonomy. This religion celebrates woman and all her endeavours. It secures all her privileges. It venerates her as a mother, a wife, a sister and as a daughter. What else would any woman be? She posed to my chauvinist consternation.

‘Prior to the dawn of Gnostics,’ there was no stopping Cherrie, ‘the position of woman was dismal. In china, woman was prized with utter condescension. She plunged into puberty playing hide and seek with cultural impediments lest anybody—here she meant men—should catch a glimpse of her ‘stained’ face; in India, Manu teachings pronounced woman as evil incarnate. She had no rights at all and she was classified with eyesore elements and effects of her father, husband or her children.

The Greeks entirely secluded woman, she was in cultural bondage and her chief function was to replicate and nurse children. The Jewish man would supplicate to God in a formula contemptible to the woman. Thank God for you did not create me a dog, a Gentile and a woman, under the Romans, woman were so much debased that her husband was at liberty to arbitrate and castigate her as his whim desires; he would even exterminate her if he deemed it fit to do so.


That was briefly. My friends and I only wondered why her side of family never said anything. Surely, there was some boiling brouhaha from that end of eternity—or so—now you must be raising your eyebrows too, over this curious engagement.

end of part iii.
coming soon. part iv. the debauchery.

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