How do you hold on to faith when your world is falling apart? Know what I mean? When you are almost always pushed at that edge where you start questioning everything you’ve ever believed. How do you stop yourself from losing faith?

Kevin and I, did our schooling together while we attended same classes in ninth and tenth grade, we always spearheaded academic and curricular activities, whether it was the science club or the volleyball team or a debate meet or a skit performance. Over the years, we lost touch and happened to meet only recently when I learnt that he had left the country right after school. We agreed to meet over coffee one evening. An evening that will leave a lot to think about!

Meeting old friends after what seems like ages, unearthing the past is a usual affair. But filling the gaps, closing the distance is all well and good only as long as the talk is on pleasant grounds. And then there are those moments when you opt mute smiles. There are certain grounds where you reach a dead end even before you’ve reached the turn.

The conversation over coffee drifted to the past, from work to college to school, and from colleagues to friends to family. I was greatly delighted to learn the heights Kevin has scaled in all these years that he was away. He is not only employed with a reputed and an all-desired firm but has been equally successful in acuminating his talent in painting which was his hobby since before I’ve known him.

The casual talks led me to realize that he had not forgotten what I would otherwise term ‘little things’ and that he remembered my habits and interests with such definitude all too perfect to be true.

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Credit: Google Images

Surprisingly, touching over the surface of talks, I gathered he isn’t much of a religious person which I don’t know if he ever was. The fact that he is an agnostic did not disturb me as much as the fact that he is an acute atheist. That also was not the end of my disappointment. It was rather the manner in which he almost mocked about how I always was an ‘overly’ religious person. Right since those early school years. He jeered with utter travesty at the religious practices that I followed and was flippant enough in mentioning how he thought that my observing fasts was beyond a certain point of ridicule and proved only how much more weak it portrays us. Besides, there’s nothing ever like pleasing the Gods.

Slowly, the conversation ambled from one point of religion-mockery to another and I started to believe that it might never end.

You must be wondering why did not just cut him short if I am a person of God, why did I not argue and make him see how wrong he was, or why did I not just walk away?

But amidst the rather grim conversation, I had had a glimpse of something else. A lurking question that I needed an explanation for. Kevin’s words although coated with deepest contempt convinced me that there was an underlying reason. What I saw on the surface was only half the story. There was more than what met my eye. And only digging further into the ground he’d dug, I could find the answers. And I had to do it his own way. Not mine. Debate. Arguments. Convictions. Explanations wouldn’t help me. And pretty soon I discovered what it was that had made my dear friend so loathsome at even the mention of God.

Kevin had had a rather troubled upbringing as a child. With highly ambitious parents, none willing to sacrifice their ambitions or successful careers, Kevin grew up in the supervision of his sometimes present old grandma and an always present nanny.

He hardly ever saw his parents as they lived in separate towns, traveling the globe more than half the year, the percentage of their attendance in his life was much lower than the very many board meetings and presentations they attended. Finally, it reached a point when there wasn’t one day when he could see both of them together. Attending school plays and report days with his good old granny became a routine and gradually, the fading bonds between his parents resulted into a dissolved marriage. Today, while his father runs a successful business with wealthy clients overseas, his mother is the dean of a reputed university in another country.

Until that day, each living moment of his life was spent struggling to get his family back together. He frequented churches and prayed that they come back. It was neither the fortunes they were making nor their growing careers that stirred any interest in him. It was only the family he so wanted, the love he so missed that he had begged for on bent knees. He held onto his drifting faith that they will come back, that they will see how much he needs them. But he realized it was too late. That he was mistaken all these years. It was not their careers that were meddling with the family but the family meddling with their careers. This not only tore his family apart but shed to bits every tiny thread of faith he ever had.  It just became too easy for him to believe that what is not there cannot give you what you ever ask for.

Well, what could I have said that would have lessened his pain? Were there enough words to unburden his heart? Actions to restore the lost faith? I mean, you reach that point when you learn there is a lot of shit than what you see, shit that kills. Especially, when its killing people you deeply care about.
How do you keep yourself from losing faith then?

True, I got my beliefs. True, I got my faith. I also have my own share of challenges and disappointments which make me apprehensive. But had I been in Kevin’s shoes, after having fought with every ounce of my energy and hope left, and yet watching my world fall apart, would I be able to stick by my faith? Not sure!

-Asha