Life of Pi. Chapter 26.

A few days after  the meeting on the esplanade,  I took my courage into my hands and went to see Father at his office.
“Yes, Piscine.”
“I would like to be baptized and I would like a prayer rug.”
My words intruded slowly. He looked up from his papers after some seconds.
“A what? What?”
“I  would  like  to  pray  outside  without  getting  my  pants  dirty.  And  I’m  attending  a Christian school without having received the proper baptism of Christ.”
“Why do you want to pray outside? In fact, why do you want to pray at all?”
“Because I love God.”
“Aha.” He seemed taken aback by my answer, nearly embarrassed by it. There was a pause. I thought he was going to offer me ice cream again. “Well, Petit Seminaire is Christian  only  in  name.  There  are  many  Hindu  boys  there  who aren’t  Christians. You’ll get just  as good an education without being baptized. Praying to  Allah won’t make any difference, either.”
“But I want to pray to Allah. I want to be a Christian.”
“You can’t be both. You must be either one or the other.”
“Why can’t I be both?”
“They’re separate religions! They have nothing in common.”
“That’s not what they say! They both claim Abraham as theirs. Muslims say the God of the Hebrews and Christians is the same as the God of the Muslims. They recognize David, Moses and Jesus as prophets.”
“What does this have to do with us, Piscine? We’re Indians!”
“There  have  been  Christians  and  Muslims  in  India  for  centuries!  Some  people  say Jesus is buried in Kashmir.”
He said nothing, only looked at me, his brow furrowed. Suddenly business called.
“Talk to Mother about it.”
She was reading.
“Yes, darling.”
“I would like to be baptized and I would like a prayer rug.”
“Talk to Father about it.”
“I did. He told me to talk to you about it.”
“Did he?” She laid her book down. She looked out in the direction of the zoo. At that moment  I’m  sure  Father  felt  a  blow  of  chill  air  against  the  back  of  his  neck.  She turned to  the bookshelf.  “I have a book here that you’ll like.” She already had her arm out, reaching for a volume. It was Robert Louis Stevenson. This was her usual tactic.
“I’ve already read that, Mother. Three times.”
“Oh.” Her arm hovered to the left.
“The same with Conan Doyle,” I said.
Her  arm  swung  to  the  right.  “R.  K.  Narayan?  You  can’t  possibly  have  read  all  of Narayan?”
“These matters are important to me, Mother.”
“Robinson Crusoe!”
“But  Piscine!”  she  said.  She  settled  back  into  her  chair,  a  path-of-least-resistance look on her face, which meant I had to put up a stiff fight in precisely the right spots. She adjusted a cushion. “Father and I find your religious zeal a bit of a mystery.”
“It is a Mystery.”
“Hmmm. I don’t mean it that way. Listen, my darling, if you’re going to be religious, you must be either a Hindu, a Christian or a Muslim. You heard what they said on the esplanade.”
“I  don’t  see  why  I  can’t  be  all  three.  Mamaji  has  two  passports.  He’s  Indian  and French. Why can’t I be a Hindu, a Christian and a Muslim?”
“That’s different. France and India are nations on earth.”
“How many nations are there in the sky?”
She thought for a second. “One. That’s the point. One nation, one passport.”
“One nation in the sky?”
“Yes.  Or none.  There’s  that  option  too,  you know.  These  are  terribly  old-fashioned things you’ve taken to.”
“If there’s only one nation in the sky, shouldn’t all passports be valid for it?”
A cloud of uncertainty came over her face.
“Bapu Gandhi said—”
“Yes, I know what Bapu Gandhi said.” She brought a hand to her forehead. She had a weary look, Mother did. “Good grief,” she said.

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