The day I turned my mother into an atheist

It had been a few months of what one may refer to, with some underplaying, as bad times. I was falling ill and feeling drained in every way.

The fan’s blades were providing me with unlimited entertainment. One chasing the other, merging, cutting through the stillness to create breeze. I don’t know when the gust of wind entered my eyes, with a little dust, and my cheeks got wet. I bit my lower lip; it was too late. Before I could rush to the bathroom, my mother had come in.

“What happened?” she asked, even as she knew the geography and history of the emotions. Her query was a redundancy, so she asked me to let it out.

We talked about the things that had happened, happened while I sat doing nothing to cause them to. She knows more than anybody else because she knows where I am…

In an uncharacteristic way she said, “Yeh God bhi na…”

“You think there is a god? Talk to him then.”

“I do, but it does not make a difference.”

“So, stop believing. Stop it. See this…and I pointed out the strips of medicines, the lacerating unseen wounds. Are we on trial?”

She shook her head, “Bohat testing ho gaya.”

“From today no god, okay?”

“Theek hai…”

“You are an atheist now.”

“Hmm, okay.”

“No more of that ayatal kursi, no more of these things. Nothing.”

“All right,” she said, as she held my hand.

We watched some TV and shut off for the night.

Next day began as days usually do – sun up, traffic sounds, door bells, phone rings, shower, breakfast, writing, reading…it turned to afternoon. I remembered last night.

“Now you are an atheist?” I asked her to confirm.

“Yes, yes,” she said.

Evening was drawing towards night. She came to my room as I was typing. “How does it feel?” I asked her.

“Feel what?”

“To be without all this god stuff?”

She smiled.

“What happened? You still believe?”

“I believe in what makes me feel good.”

“You have not got rid of all those religious things?” (I might add, we don’t have too many symbols around.)

“Have you?” she asked.


And she showed me a tasbeeh (prayer beads) that hangs from a knob on my shelf door, a miniature Quran on a string and a wooden plaque with an ayat (religious verse) all within touching distance from where I sit.

“That does not make me religious,” I said, and meant it.

“I know. Just as you did not remove these to prove you don’t believe, I don’t have to keep these or remove these to prove I believe.”

“Then what happens to our talk last night? I am still the same, things are still the same.”

“They will change, whatever you believe in.”

“So if you believe in me, do I become god?”

“You don’t have to be god for me to believe in you. You are yourself, and not many people are.”