When he told me I would go to hell, I laughed. His fiery comment battled for air space against the lingering, spicy smell of samosas and pokoras. It was eleven o’clock pm, and most customers had already returned home. My friends and I were still sitting by the front window of Himalayan Fusion, casually conversing on rather loftier subjects, and “people-watching” on a deserted Downtown Mall.
I knew he was a staunch Christian, or, as he would say, “a member of the purest Protestant church in the Christian faith.” Still, I was mildly surprised (but more intrigued) that he would place me in this “hell,” among the ranks of Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot. My sentence to eternal damnation stemmed from my lack of repentance for committing sins, and my apparent distance from Jesus. I told him that I was sure Jesus was a pretty cool guy, but I was already in a committed relationship. He didn’t laugh.
Determined to counter his irrational accusations, I tallied my sins. I’m envious of no one, and gluttonous only when it comes to Grandma’s aebleskiver appropriately drenched in maple syrup and strawberry sauce. Never am I slothful, for “bored” was ironed out of my vocabulary long ago, when Mom threatened the disagreeable task of toilet-scrubbing in exchange for idleness. I’m wrathful only of those who live without questioning culture and society, those who abuse others to accomplish their own misdirected goals, and those who prescribe to a system of beliefs without stopping to think for themselves. My greed for knowledge only makes me inquisitive. I’m lustful of happiness, which I believe to be the root of all goals in life and unconditionally tied to success, and of course I’m proud. Pride, when distinguished from vanity, is something to be, well, proud of.
“Let me clarify. My religion states that each person is born with original sin, so you’re sinful by default,” he responded. Oh, okay, so I should apologize for being born. I wondered if he was willing to challenge any of his religious beliefs, or if his personal and religious beliefs were hopelessly intertwined. Still, I decided to indulge him. Maybe I could give repenting a shot.
To whom it may concern: I just wanted to apologize for being a passionate individual who lives for the pursuit of happiness and knows that she will thus be successful in life. I’m sorry that I’m creative, and ever fascinated with the artistic process. I regret that I dance to relieve stress, and that my industriousness and self-motivation make me a perfectionist. I’m sorry I like to engage in child-like play on a beautiful day, but still consider myself to be mature. I’m sorry I like to think. In short, let me apologize for being me.
Perhaps he was unimpressed with my sarcasm, or the irony of our very conversation. “So I guess we can’t hang out in your heaven, then?” I asked. “No, I think not,” he retorted bitterly. Hell, I always liked warm weather.
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