Photo Credit: ASHTEC

One Sunday morning, I woke up uncomfortably because I can’t bear the shout of my mother. With all of her persuading skills, she begged me to eat, take a bath, and get dressed fast, we will be late for the sermon of the priest if I don’t move. We are going to church.

This thing rarely happens, my parents are not that religious. Talks about God never happened under our roof. We don’t even a Bible in our home. It made an impression in me that religion are just a minor part of life. You can neglect it if you don’t want it, just like playing sports.

Whenever they succeeded in pulling me to enter a church, I’ll just observe the architecture inside, the birds twittering, or the boring faces waiting for a sermon to be finished. A priest was dressed in weird way, speaks in monotone, and who don’t seem to know how to look at the eyes of his bored audience. Every sermon I heard seems like a presentation of a theological student full of jargons that ordinary people don’t have the caliber to understand. I can’t connect anything about the sermon to the real issues of life. But the church people are just there attending, fulfilling their religious duties and they feel good after the service.

I know that my thinking was so childish and twisted back then, so maybe I don’t have the capacity to understand it all. Church people, I thought are basically good and their religion are just set of ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ things.

But that all changed when I entered high school.

High school is one of the big turning point of my life. I encountered more subjects, people with different philosophies and faces. It’s like the whole world in a campus. Different agendas, decisions and ways of life.

But I found some group of people to be plain irritating because they are fanatic of ambush announcement. They even print their values and verses but outright inconsistent with them.

They are normally on groups, with bags that have some weird messages on it like “PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens.” They have different mode of language. In normal conversation they are speaking the ‘normal’ language - the language we can all understand. But when they are executing their scheme to invite you in their Bible study, they will change mode to the ‘Holy’ language. Even their facial expression is manipulated to be like cute puppy. It’s pathetic and I’m sick of it since day one.

These ‘righteous ones’ parade their morals and platforms in every decent opportunity, but their fakeness is so obvious. They are saying that we’re sinners in need of God’s forgiveness, if we don’t accept it, we will be thrown into hell. But they don’t seem saved at all. Many thought that they are just saved from realization that they are absolutely arrogant and insensitive.

They are so busy in getting converts to join their ‘blessed’ club. Many of my classmates said that they are just doing these sort of things so there will be more money in the basket on their Sunday Services. I’m not sure, but I’ve felt that they are not sincere in their message. For me, message and action must be consistent, when the two goes parted ways, Christianity becomes difficult to believe.

I and my older brother graduated at the same time: I in high school and he in college.

With that came a bad news, our financial account is in bad shaped. One day, I received the message I’m fearing, I need to stop my education for one year because we are out of money. Oh wow.

Almost every day, I envied all of my high school classmates who entered college right away. Hate is building inside me and I don’t want it to express to my parents. Somehow I understand our situation and I don’t have the right to throw blame on them. I decided to work for our family business and the job require a lot of solitude. I don’t know the full meaning of the word ‘blessing’ then, but I called that one year a blessing in disguise because I learn how to reflect in life and not just spend my time on television and video games.

Almost a year passed, enrollment for the next school year came, I’m obviously excited for the news and I know what course to choose. The image of me painting visual arts are so clear in my mind. And then the news arrived, I’m disappointed and it’s obvious on my face.

Our money is not enough for my target school. No paintbrush for this year. My father told me that I can enter a college who doesn't have high fees. Is that kind of college even exist? I have to choose a course that I don’t know anything about or any hint of interest.

Disappointments damaged my thinking. I don’t want to talk to my parents for days. A friend suggested that I take an examination in an obscured school that offers full scholarship for underprivileged youth. I’m a little bit uncomfortable with the term ‘underprivileged’ but I have to face the reality and swallow my pride. I want to go to college and I’ll give it a try.

In a weird turn of events, I passed the examination, but the one who invited me in the first place didn't. I felt a twinge of guilt as were riding back home, she was crying. I don’t know what to say.

The staff who interviewed me say that I’ll receive a call before June if I’ll get the scholarship. The second week of June came, no calls. Even Leonardo Da Vinci can’t paint my face. My mind is formulating a rebellion.

My father may have been realized that I’m disappointed to the core. I’m desperate to enter college just like my brother did and want to have some good dose of future. He relented, he said that he will find a way and scraped the money to let me study in other college.

I found one, but I naively chosen a course I have no clue about - Information Technology. They said it’s cool, you’ll tinker computers and create programs using your brain. Not great I think, but it’s not that bad. I've taken it, having a plan that I’ll finish it to get a work that will support my second college education, to finally enter to an arts college.

The first days of classes are good but not interesting to me. Riding home every afternoon, I’m constantly thinking if I’m sure about my decisions. Is there any better thing waiting for me?

One afternoon, I get out of the tricycle and saw my brother on the other side of the road. “Your things are all packed, get ready to go to AMG.”

“What?!”

AMG Memoir 2 - First Night

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