He is Alive
I don’t remember the first time my mom took me to a Buddhist temple. I only remember that I resented it, all of it. I resented my mom for dragging me, month after month. I resented the fact that while other kids were causing merry mayhem at my neighborhood playground, I was burning incense and rolling “Buddhist dice” (fortune sticks). I resented having to reintroduce myself to the Buddhist gods during each visit, before each prayer; if they were gods, shouldn’t they already know who I am, why I’m here? But, most of all, I resented being forced to bow and pray to a god who was apparently on an extended vacation. Why was it that, despite my mom’s fervent devotion and repeated visits, not one of her prayers were answered?
Every month, it was the same exercise. I already knew what my mom would pray for. I was also given an inventory of prayer points and, although I followed my mom’s instructions to the letter, I always managed to slip in one more teeny-tiny request.
“Dear Buddha. Please protect my mom. Please stop my dad from beating her. Please.”
To tell you the truth, I really hated how cold, impersonal, and unresponsive all these Buddhist gods seemed towards my mom. I didn’t care that these Buddhas didn’t answer all my other “automatic” prayers. I didn’t even care if my dad stopped beating me. By the time I was eight, I already mastered the art of mentally and emotionally shutting down, morphing into a machine whenever the fists and the sticks would come out to play. Sticks and stones may break someone else’s bones but, they sure as hell wouldn’t break mine or my spirit. But what about my mom? My mom had sacrificed her youth, her freedom, and her dignity in a failed attempt to create a semblance of a family. She had ample opportunity to leave or divorce my dad, but she refused to abandon us. There had to be some unofficial rule in the Game of Life that guaranteed peace from all this pain after a certain quota of suffering had been met. Didn’t my mom’s loyalty and devotion count for something?
Hello? Was anybody up there? Anybody?