Just saw this heartfelt interview of Jerry Pinto by Madhu Trehan on Newslaundry. I don't remember seeing any interview with such genuine honesty and a child like innocence. Jerry talks about living life with a mad mother, atheism, belief in God, the imperfection of God, doubts, Leela Samson, Arundhati Roy, writing, teaching...
I loved the part where he talks about the dilemma of an atheist - who to blame for your misfortunes and suffering. Also, when he says that there are two places he came closest to finding God - Banaras and Rome. And also where he recounts the guilt of a child - narrating a story of little girl who thought she was responsible for her house being bombed. The following is an excerpt from his book "Em and The Big Hoom", in which he has written about his mentally challenged mother, learning to let go and losing faith in God. He narrates the same passage in the interview as well. It is deeply moving...some absolutely beautiful lines in there... Will write more about it later.
"I lost my faith as an hourglass loses sand. There was no breaking moment but one day I found myself reading the Gospel without a twinge. I had always hated the Gospels because they had unhappy endings, all four of them. They seemed rush stories. He's born. He grows up. He preaches. He cures. He saves. All this is in the course of a few chapters. And then that Thursday and Friday, the horror of his foreknowledge, the last desperate plea to be permitted to elude this ordeal, the abandonment by friends who cannot keep vigil with him, the humiliation of his nakedness, the pain of the scourgings and the crown of thorns, the mocking crowds, the crying women, the cross, the crucifixion and even the last request – 'I thirst' – denied. I had always felt genuine distress at all this. I could not bear to read it, could not bear to put it down. It was the pain of empathy, the sorrow that this should happen to anyone.'
"That pain vanished one day. I read the passion through to check myself again. I read another version by another evangelist and was left unmoved. I remember being vaguely relieved and slightly guilty. I did not even realize at that moment that I had lost my faith. What I had left was a syrupy sentimentality and aesthetic appreciation of the Gregorian chant, the form of the fasting Buddha, and a love of stories. This is the standard equipment of the neo-atheist: eager to allow other people to believe, unwilling to proselytize to his own world which seems bleaker without God but easier to accept.'
"No one could offer any explanation for the suffering I watched my mother go through. Nothing I read or heard fitted with the notion of a compassionate God, and God's compassion, one uncomplicated, unequivocal miracle of happiness, was the only thing that could have helped. The sophisticated arguments of all the wise men of faith – their talk about the sins of a past life, the attachment to desire, the lack of perfect submission – only convinced me that there was something capricious about God. How could one demand perfect submission from those who are imperfect? How could one create desire and then expect everyone to pull the plug on it? And if God were capricious, then God was imperfect. If God were imperfect, God was not God.'
"But being an atheist offers a terrible problem. There is nothing you can do with the feeling that the world has done you wrong or that you, in turn, have hurt someone. I wavered and struggled for a long time before I exiled myself from God's mansion."
Do watch the interview here. I love Madhu Trehan and what she is doing with Newslaundry. I think this is my dream job..
Dialogue of the Day:
– Kaho Na Pyaar Hai