Geraldine thought about what Elaine had said and wondered if seeing someone of a different religion will affect her in anyway. But she knew she wasn’t going to turn her back on another religion having converted her belief to Buddhism a few years ago. Before that, she had skipped many classes in school just to go to church. She would pray the whole day and never missed a Sunday or Saturday service. Geraldine would feel terrible if she wasn’t in church on a weekend. All these then changed the day she went for church camp…
“Hey sorry to keep you waiting.” said Fabian panting as he ran up the steps from the MRT station. Geraldine smiled at seeing Fabian anxious and sorry, making all the frustration from the one hours wait disappear.
“Sorry, the train was full. I had to give it a miss and board another one.” And something cropped up at church so I had to stay a little longer. So… where shall we eat?”
“Erm… How about Kartel?”
Fabian nodded, trying still to catch his breath. When Geraldine noticed a drop of perspiration on the side of his forehead, she smiled to believe that Fabian has at least tried his best to shorten her wait. When they finally settled down at a table and ordered their food, Geraldine couldn’t help but ask what happened at church.
“I’m the I.T. director in church, so I have to make sure the equipments and the sound systems are intact and in working order before every service. But I’m passing my duties down to the youngsters and these days I’m teaching them how to work the PA system and check the technical parts. Today, one of the person whom I ‘m supposed to pass my duties to, meddled with the buttons and caused a short-circuit during service. Hence, I had to stay back to fix the fault and give that youngster a piece of my mind.”
“Ha! What did you say?”
“Well, I told him to listen to the sermons attentively in future and not meddle with the gadgets. These machines are very expensive. They are all bought with the money donated by fellow brothers and sisters of the church. We can’t just play around with them. What if they get spoilt?”
“Wow. People who go to your church must be rich.”
“Not really. Everyone just donates as much as they can to beautify the church.”
“Why must you beautify it?”
“Because God is good. We love God and we must give Him the best.”
Geraldine held her tongue. It was many years ago since she last went to church but she remembered her church to be beautiful yet not so modernized. Fellow worshippers donate money to buy candles and pay gardeners to clean up the porch, not to buy expensive sound system. And Buddhists love their gods and donate money to temples too. The money is used to buy fruits and incense for the gods, but we don’t use the money to buy useless things. And what is the use of buying those expensive stuffs anyway? God can’t use them!
The food arrived. Tenderloin steak for Fabian and grilled dory fish for Geraldine. Geraldine picked up her fork and knife to begin cutting her fish when she saw that Fabian had sliced a piece of his steak and deposited it on her plate.
“Try the steak. It looks good.”
“No thank you. I don’t eat beef.”
“Because we Buddhists don’t eat beef.”
“Oh, like Muslims can’t eat pork?”
“Yes!” And just like Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays and Christians can’t eat food offered to Buddhist gods.
“Okay. Relax! Don’t get mad. I’ll just take it back.” Take the steak back Fabian can, but words can’t be taken back so easily. It has created an inevitable realization that their religions might stand in their way of seeking love and companionship with each other.
The rest of dinner went by with neither one uttering a word. It was uncomfortable and awkward. Geraldine was feeling moody and wished that that conversation they had had not taken place. She left as though her turning away from one religion to embrace another has led her to be ostracized by the very guy she would like to be with. Fabian was however, determined to set things right. He was not about to allow a lousy conversation ruin his evening with a girl deeply contrasted with other women whim he had sought for love and romance, even though he tried hard to tell himself that nothing else mattered as long as love prevails.
And so, he suggested a movie after dinner. Seeing that Fabian was trying to make things better, she obliged.
The movie was fabulous, or so it was assumed to be because Fabian and Geraldine hardly saw the screen. It was a bonding time for them as they resumed kisses reminiscences of the nasty conversation they had some time ago was forgotten, covered and buried by their love for each other.
“I am not doing this because you are just some girl.” Fabian whispered into her ear. “I like you and I want to be with you. Honest.”
“Me too.” Geraldine whispered back as she snuggled against Fabian’s neck and closed her eyes.