By Jagdesh Singh | Opinion |
The sweat droplet trickled down her flushed cheek, and there’s this reflection of accomplishment on her face. I’ve been pushing her to work out during the evenings, and to maintain her stamina to be able to get back playing football when we’re all done with the lockdowns. But being a 9 year old girl, and with her boundless energy, she was more bored than anything else with the drilled exercises that we adults typically think are good for us. Cardio work-outs? Boring. Jogging? Boring.
Nevertheless, it’s still her duty to exercise daily, because her dad says so. Boring or not.
You can imagine then, to overcome boredom, she talks. She insists I maintain conversation from the start of the exercise until we walk home and get ready for dinner. Like any kid of her age, rest assured she will ask the toughest of questions. It’s not easy to think of the appropriate and right answer for her while I’m trying to catch my breath from the exercising I put the both of us through.
“How do you know God exists, Papa?”
We’ve tried our best as parents to explain a little bit about life to our elder daughters, especially at dinner. We discuss spirituality and religion, and a host of other things. This little one has been listening and digesting from the debates that fly off from our very vocal teenagers.
Because she’s intelligent, and having been listening into to the family conversations at the dining table, I sometimes suspect her questions were more to test the consistency of my answers. So, I’ll have to be on my toes, otherwise I’ll be called a charlatan by this spunky young girl.
And I’m no saint either. I’ll outright tell you that my knowledge of Sikhi, or other religions for the matter, as well as spirituality, is at beginner level, at best. I’m also fully aware that Wikipedia or YouTube is only but a touch of my finger away, and I bet I can find a near answer.
Here’s the catch, though. She can sense right away that my answer isn’t original, not couched with Papa’s way of explaining things. Essentially, I cannot demonstrate that Papa may not be the best person to ask these personal and deep questions in the future. Her mother and I definitely want to avoid our daughters avoiding us in sharing their thoughts and in addressing questions that may define their outlook of life and of spirituality. So, I can’t bullshit. Instead, I have to be honest.
“I know God exists because He gave me so much joy having a daughter like you”. I went with the flattery tactic first and wanted to see if she bit.
“That answer doesn’t really answer the question, Papa.”
The rustling of the leaves around us got louder for some reason. It did buy some time to think of an answer that she fully deserves.
“Look at the trees around you, beta. Look at the sky, so beautiful. Look at all the neighbors smiling at you. This is someone’s creation, right?” She nods, her frowning brows now portraying her intense face, not following where this is going.
“Can you imagine someone who can create all this all the time from the beginning of time? Certainly not a mere human, right? It has to be some massive mega magical force, yes? Like the Force in the Star Wars movie, you know?”
Her face lights up a bit, suddenly understanding the concept that it’s not a person but some Supreme Being, like a force field enveloping us. “But why does he need to create things and create people like us?”
I groaned silently, half knowing that she would ask this question next. The house gate is now 100 meters away, which means I only have just another 5 minutes to withstand this interrogation and hope for the best that she’ll drop this tough conversation.
“I once read a book that says Waheguru wants to experience every single thing there is to experience. Waheguru wants to experience walking in this cool shade, at the same instance Waheguru wants to see that cat walking alongside you, and wanted to experience what it would feel like asking someone like your father these questions, while the wind is blowing and the trees are rustling. It’s so so unique and nobody else in this world has ever experienced but you Beta. And Waheguru gets to experience this as well, through you! That’s why Waheguru created all this at this instant.”
“And Waheguru wanted to also experience answering questions like this too, huh?” I nodded smilingly.
I can breathe a little easily now, and the timing couldn’t have been better as we reached the house gates. The sweat on my forehead now dry. And I’m not sure if the sweat was from my exercising or from the test I just had to answer for. Parenting achievement unlocked!
Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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