At least two have asked me if I'm the author of the latest TFE IP, basing their suspicion on the army of PJ's in it. I amn't.

And, do contribute! If your piece is good, it'll directly get published. If it's bad, it'll be touched up before it sees print. If it's worse it'll be bounced. If it's perfectly pathetic, again, it'll directly get published -- along with your photograph, room number, and the location of hockey bats in your hostel.

My attitudes toward the delusions notions of God, Religion, Spiritualism, etc. underwent phases.
When I was as tall as my hip, my mother* gave it to me in a shot: 'God can do everything.'
This gave rise to several complications. For instance, could this God person really handle a calculator? Yes, vouched the parent for Him. I was quite impressed. A flurry of questions sprang over the following days: Can He read magazines? Does He know how to use a mixie in the kitchen? Does He speak English? Can He type as fast as my mom? The answer was always a why-not-of-course-yes.

The real clincher came when I had a groundbreaking conversation with her during, I reckon, my First Grade. I distinctly remember its gist. Allow me to paraphrase.

Son: Free me from ignorance, mother. Are foeti conceived in wombs by themselves at unexpected moments? Or is it that women are equipped with the power to calve at the time of their choosing?

Mom: Spoken like a prodigy, my gold brick. Your second hypothesis is closer to the truth.

Son: Indeed. So thought I. But could you throw light as to how you mothers decide when to populate your uteri? How, for instance, did you have me, not to mention my brother, in your belly, just the time you wanted us to be there?

Mom: I prayed... to God.

Son: Oh?

Mom: Yes. Time will tell all, jaggery lump. Now show mama your homework.

This little chat sealed any doubts I had on the omnipotence of the Chap. My piety deepened. I dared not get into my parents' bad books for fear of ending up having my eyes punctured by Him. In temples I put up my best behaviour, lest He be lurking in a dark corner with watchful eyes.

And then the father factor set in. That my papa's papa was a supervisor of temples in TN and was an ardent, if not fanatic, Hindu, was outweighed by the astronomy lectures he (my dad) had attended in his college. When I was still in my single-digit years, he opened my mind, in little degrees, to reason. Practical difficulties faced by ten-handed goddesses here, an elementary anomaly in the concept of omnipresence there, and so on. He never forced his atheism on me, merely pointing out the common sense-defying postulates of the God theory now and then. This kept me on think mode, and I turned agnostic. My faith and a temple in the neighbourhood followed an inverse-square law.

In the summer of Fifth Class, I was hospitalized for a fortnight. My maternal grandfather had me run prayers on a daily basis. And my eventual cure rendered me a whole-hearted believer again.

God existed for the next three years.

Books by Tamil writer Sujatha and Lankan rationalist Kovoor, further god-gossip with my father, and the due course of lifely events later transformed me to what may be best described as an agnatheist. Belief peaked a few days a year, always coinciding with exam dates. Whenever asked about my ideas on God, I came to mumble 'I don't exactly call what I believe as God... But I am sort of half-convinced that something -- something -- controls the network of events and things in the universe and the beauty of it all, if you know what I mean, you know. A pattern, I mean. Kind of arragement of coincidences, et cetera. Well, there is a lot of deep thinking left. I have to do it sometime. But I'm also open to--' and so on till the listener would halt me with a quick 'Okay-okay-okay'.

It was only after joining the institute did I fully realize that quasi-atheism and poinephobia were synonyms. I soon started calling myself a 'non-believer', for saying "I'm an atheist" (despite being a staunch one) somehow implied coming across as one who pooh-poohed others' intelligence by virtue of their faith alone and who took it upon himself to breathe logic into his fellow men. I've seldom attempted to bring people to my side of the God line. I don't see why G H Hardy, Dawkins and the rest waste/d their valuable time and cerebral resources in disproving the existence of God -- atheists would applaud their works and others would cling to their own faith anyway. Once you're absolutely convinced of His/Her/Its non-existence, why care? 'Rabbit's horn' is the phrase that leaps to mind. Thus, to me, apatheism is the highest form of atheism.

Some cool links:

(1) FAQ
(2) Dragon
(3) Spaghetti
(4) IPU
(5) Paradox
I particularly want you to read (2).

A request. If you're writing a counterattacking comment, please spare the catch-line 'God can only be sensed / realized / intuitively felt.'

*a semi-theist