My parents weren’t too religious, my mother perhaps slightly more than my father, but in general not so much. My grandmother on my mother’s side on the other hand, she possibly is the more religious one, to the point where she’ll refuse to take any medication and go the spiritual, religious route along with natural and herbal medications. She is the typical grandmother. I always looked forward to visiting her. She often spoiled me with my favorite meals and snacks, her endless love, gifts, everything a grandson could ask for.
When I was about ten years old, I started to have general questions about life, and I remember asking her “How do we know we belong to the right religion? Or that we’re praying to the right God?” - I’ll never forget her reply, because her usual endearment completely changed, her reaction made me feel uncomfortable. She says to me “God does say that some people will be lost, that not everyone will make it to heaven”, in other words, I was told I wasn’t going to heaven because I have doubts and I’m questioning religion. As if I needed yet another reason that I was not going to heaven, I can’t imagine if I had said “I think I may be gay.”
Because of my family’s religious beliefs, I was sent to a private catholic school from first grade to sixth grade. I’ve never been a good student, and while I was never physically punished by nuns like the stereo types of nuns, I was definitely punished for not paying attention. The method? Child developmental deprivation. These nuns had some serious techniques. I remember fourth grade in particular, I couldn’t figure out a math assignment, and it was time for lunch. The nun told me I would not be allowed to go out for lunch break until I finished my assignment. I was not allowed to eat even though my stomach was growling and demanding food “Do you hear my stomach!? That’s my stomach crying because it’s hungry!” I would say, but she wouldn’t budge. Lunch break was over, and I never finished my assignment and we moved on to the next topic.
Now that I’m older, I wonder what went through her mind “I will stop that child from properly developing by starving him, that’ll teach him to pay attention” but how can someone even concentrate when you’re hungry? Isn’t the opposite true, if you don’t eat how can your faculties even function?
I once read a joke in Spanish on Twitter that said something like “When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to eat until we thanked the lord for our food. Now, I’m not allowed to eat until everyone takes pictures of the food and posts them online.”
When my mother and her husband visited me last time, we went to a very nice, small Italian restaurant. It seems to be a very popular restaurant because the waiting time for our table was about 6 hours. Okay, it was 40 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. When it was our turn, I felt so special, like we won the lottery, we were the chosen ones, we were finally granted the privilege to get a table and eat. Our food was served and we were all impressed with the presentation of each dish, and how good everything looked and smelled. "Mmm! It looks so good!“ my mother says. I just nodded, I was so hungry; I didn’t even care about what the food looked like at this point. I reached for the fork, almost tasting my lasagna when she instantly says "wait, wait! Let me take a picture of everything”. She has always been extremely patient with me since I can remember, and boy was I a spoiled kid thanks to my doting grandmother. Now I guess it was my turn to return my mother’s patience. My stomach and I both grumbled at the same time while she took her pictures of my what looked like a delicious lasagna, a picture of her own dish, a picture of her husband’s dish, then of course a picture of all three dishes together, and finally a picture of us all, selfies.
When I finally had the first bite it tasted like the best lasagna I had ever had. But now, I don’t know if it truly was. When you’re at this level of starvation, everything tastes like the best thing you’ve ever had.