I was driving home after sunset mass in church. The traffic light indicates 90 seconds. While it was ticking away, and the little green man slowly walking, something flashed back in my mind.
When I was very, very small, my mom used to pray to my Hainanese ancestors who died in Hainan islands. Waitaminit, I was brought up a Taoist, I only converted to Catholic Christian in 2003. Another waitaminit, I think my mom was praying for her in-laws, i.e. my father’s ancestors. Or did mom prayed to her own ancestors who are Sing Ning? Wateva. God bless them.
As a little kid of about five or six years old, she would instruct me to arrange all the chopsticks, spoons and tiny teacups and wine cups on the table. No shite, back then, we really have a table for 10 persons, whole chicken, whole duck and a whole banquet. There were chairs as well. Just like a normal banquet. None of those fake styrofoam things that lazy people nowadays buy from the shops.
So, you can see the religious background I grew up in. During the whole prayer, none of us can go near the table and chairs. We cannot snitched any foods to eat before prayers.
The almighty ancestors would be angry so as a kid, I was terribly afraid of these unseen, dead, come from China visiting souls who will smack me if I dare talk nonsense. Oh well, if you have problems comprehending, watch Mulan and you will get a better idea.
My mother would bring me to every temples and she did love to go to temples. Kuan Yin temple, Kek Lok Si and Snake temple, just to name a few.
I forgot which temple it is but they have these statues of people being tortured in hades. So, being all five years old and stupid, my mother had brainwashed me.
“If you tell lies, next time when you are dead, they will cut off your tongue.”
“You see that man with the hand chopped off? He gambled.”
“Ma…why did the gu mok ong (king of hades with a cow’s head and warrior body) step on the person?” (I forgot what punishment is that, sorry.)
“Ma…why did the man and woman got boiled in the pot?”
“It is not boil, it is fried in hot oil.”
“But Ma…..why did they get fried?”
Oh well….my mother couldn’t tell a five years old girl that they got fried because they were unfaithful. So I forgot what mom braffed (bluff) me. But eventually, when I was much grown up and can read English, I knew about that. Does Haw Par Villa still exists in Singapore? That one is terribly grotesque. Those are life sizes statues of humans being tortured in hell.
Now, the red stick man is running. The traffic light is turning green for me. I gotta drive. But I realized that my Christian God’s promise of Heaven is so much more comforting. And the river of fire in hell ain’t half as scary as those being deep fried in oil or being chopped off the tongue.
Still, I am thankful that my mother instilled that little fear in me as a child or otherwise, I don’t know what I would have become. We all hate religion. It curbs our freedom. It gives us that fear of the unseen and unknown. But at the end of it, that’s what keep us all humans to behave somehow. And though religion is not everyone’s favourite topic, we still turn to God that we may not know in the first place when we hit deep shits. That Almighty God that hovers around us to save us from hitting rock bottom.
Before you comment, remember that my words are always the truth. Muahahar…I am not going to argue on religion so save your breath. I am not interested to hear your views.