It is 6:00 am. Ordinarily it is the shrill beeping of an alarm clock that rouses us. But not for me, no. For me, it is the faint jingling of a bell and the chanting of prayers- in that typical tone one employs while chanting prayers -that greets me everyday as I wake up.
I get up, get dressed and go downstairs, only to go through my own prayer session in the prayer room. My mother sees that I was about to enter the room with shoes on, her eyes as wide as saucers. I hastily take them off before she can start yelling and mumble the only prayer I completely remember in the dimly lit room.
Then in school, we go through the whole process again. The prayer group in the morning assembly sings an unbelievably long prayer as we stifle yawns and try to recall the words that make no sense to us at all.
Then we go home and later to tuitions. On the way, theres a crowd near a temple which slows us down. At my teacher’s home, her old mother totters around, reciting prayers to herself continuously.
Later at night, I can hear the call from the mosque as I sit in the garden.
When I call my best friend to make plans to go out for the latest chick-flick, she cancels, since she has to go to church at that time.
At night, as I am just about to fall asleep, my dad pops in the room and reminds me to pray before I sleep.
All I can think is, its true what they say. God really is omnipresent. He is literally everywhere!
One day I asked one of my favorite teachers, “What if I don’t believe in God? I don’t think that it’s because of Him that we achieve things. I don’t think that if you pray everyday, good things will happen to you. I think it’s our hard work that gets us there. Why must I pray for something I don’t believe in?”
My teacher, who I always believed was less like an adult than most adults, and whom I could tell anything I wanted to, listened to me quietly. What she said next, I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
“This world is a scary place. Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations which are too hard, too much for us to bear. Even the strongest of us fall sometimes. We find ourselves falling into a deep dark pit from which theres no way to escape.
God is like the light which shines from within you, in that darkness, It is nothing palpable. It is something you believe in, something you hold on to, something which gives you hope.
And it doesn’t have to be God. It can be anything you consider to be pure, to be the one thing that conquers all. You just have to believe in it. It has to give you strength and hope.
Because it is too hard to go this world alone. You have to believe in something. I myself don’t believe in God either. I believe in love.”
And so that’s what I did. I started to believe in love.
Anjali Kamat is sixteen and studies in Class XI, Navrachana School Sama, Vadodhara.