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Life of Pi (part 1 chapter 27)

2006-08-22 21:08

  CHAPTER   27

  Later that evening I overheard my parents speaking.

  “You said yes?” said Father.

  “I believe he asked you too. You referred him to me,” replied Mother.

  “Did I?”

  “You did.”

  “I had a very busy day……”

  “You're not busy now. You're quite comfortably unemployed by the looks of it. If you want to march into his room and pull the prayer rug from under his feet and discuss the question of Christian baptism with him, please go ahead. I won't object.”

  “No, no.” I could tell from his voice that Father was settling deeper into his chair. There was a pause.

  “He seems to be attracting religions the way a dog attracts fleas, he pursued. ”I don't understand it. We're a modern Indian family; we live in a modern way, India is on the cusp of becoming a truly modern and advanced nation-and here we've produced a son who thinks he's the reincarnation of Sri Ramakrishna.“

  “If Mrs. Gandhi is what being modern and advanced is about, I'm not sure I like it,” Mother said.

  “Mrs. Gandhi will pass! Progress is unstoppable. It is a drumbeat to which we must all march. Technology helps and good ideas spread-these are two laws of nature. If you don't let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood! I am utterly convinced of this. Mrs. Gandhi and her foolishness will pass. The New India will come.”

  (Indeed she would pass. And the New India, or one family of it, would decide to move to Canada.)

  Father went on: “Did you hear when he said, 'Bapu Gandhi said, ”All religions are true'“?”

  “Yes.”

  “Bapu Gandhi? The boy is getting to be on affectionate terms with Gandhi? After Daddy Gandhi, what next? Uncle Jesus? And what's this nonsense-has he really become a Muslim?”

  “It seems so.”

  “A Muslim! A devout Hindu, all right, I can understand. A Christian in addition, it's getting to be a bit strange, but I can stretch my mind. The Christians have been here for a long time-Saint Thomas, Saint Francis Xavier, the missionaries and so on. We owe them good schools.”

  “Yes.”

  “So all that I can sort of accept. But Muslim? It's totally foreign to our tradition. They're outsiders.”

  “They've been here a very long time too. They're a hundred times more numerous than the Christians.”

  “That makes no difference. They're outsiders.”

  “Perhaps Piscine is marching to a different drumbeat of progress.”

  “You're defending the boy? You don't mind it that he's fancying himself a Muslim?”

  “What can we do, Santosh? He's taken it to heart, and it's not doing anyone any harm. Maybe it's just a phase. It too may pass-like Mrs. Gandhi.”

  “Why can't he have the normal interests of a boy his age? Look at Ravi. All he can think about is cricket, movies and music.”

  “You think that's better?”

  “No, no. Oh, I don't know what to think. It's been a long day.” He sighed. “I wonder how far he'll go with these interests.”

  Mother chuckled. “Last week he finished a book called The Imitation of Christ.”

  “The Imitation of Christ! I say again, I wonder how far he'll go with these interests!” cried Father.

  They laughed.

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