Friday, September 25, 2009

My First Confession

How did your aadhya kumbasaaram (First Confession)go? asked my father. He was standing in front of the mirror, combing his hair, something which I loved watching. He was bald and beautiful, my father, with a less than half inch tuft of hair skirting the shining bald head at its base like a fading crescent moon. And Ichayan (as we called him) took ages combing it. Fascinating, the concentration with which his hand followed the comb as the latter went over and over again over the crescent.

It was good, I replied. I was almost six years old. As an after thought I made a confession in a conspiratorial voice. But my repentance was imperfect.

The comb stopped its monotonous activity for a second as Ichayan looked at me puzzled.


Yes, I said looking up at him. In a very knowledgeable tone, I repeated what Sister Vincentia of the Nazareth Convent who prepared me for the First Communion taught me. There are the two types of repentance. Perfect repentance is when you feel contrite for having hurt the good God. The imperfect one is when you repent your sins for fear of hell.

And the lowering my voice, I told Ichayan I couldn’t feel sorry for hurting God. But I am scared of hell. It doesn’t matter if your repentance is perfect or imperfect so long as you don’t hide any sin.

Ichayan burst into one of his explosive laughs. The comb soon resumed its action. When it finally rested on the hair brush kept face up on the dressing table, the white opaque pyramid shaped old spice jar was opened and I watched, fascinated as he splashed the after shave lotion into his palm and then patted his cheek – chin area with it.

I love that smell I told him. Some more liquid was splashed on his palm and he patted my cheeks with that palm. I was delighted and forgot all about the imperfect repentance.

The next day was a Saturday. My first communion was to be on Sunday. I was pretty thrilled about that one free day between the First confession Friday and the Holy Communion Sunday. I had exciting plans like climbing trees, playing kili and taking part in the cricket match scheduled for evening. My role in the match was that of a stepney batsman for both the teams (comprising my siblings, cousins and a 'madras Swami' who was my father's business partner) and of the ball boy to pick up the ball when one of the batsmen managed to connect the bat and the ball well. I loved the way one of my brothers imitated Vizzy, the commentator and went into squeals of ecstasy when some one was bowled or someone hit a ‘six’.

Saturday dawned. After breakfast, I was about to run out with my brothers to play kili when amma called out to me and said Get ready. Let’s go to Nazareth Convent.
Crash!!! Down came my dreams for the day - like the twin towers.
But why? I am free today. Mild hysteria in the voice.
Get dressed quickly. Don’t argue.

I didn’t argue because my soul was clean after my First Confession and the next day was my Holy Communion. Dejected, I went with amma to the Nazareth Convent.

I saw amma talking to Sister Vincentia who was nodding vigourously. Then she seemed to place a consoling hand on amma’s elbow.

Amma then left, leaving me in the Nazareth convent.

“Molly, you Know God is good?’ asked Sister V.
“Yes.’ I said sulking.
“How good”
“Very Good’
“You know he loves you”
I nodded in agreement though I was not very sure at that moment. Surely a God who loves me wont let me down like this, demolishing all my dreams for the day. He must have known how much I wanted a break from Him and from the two weeks of rigorous catechism lessons at the Nazareth Convent.

‘Then why aren’t you sorry that you hurt him when you sinned?”

So that was it! Ichayan had let amma into my confession secret, which he had found hilarious – but which amma couldn’t.

“I don’t know. I can’t feel sorry. I don’t know why”. Those were days when I hadn’t learnt the art of telling white lies. A lie – black or white - is a lie, and Thou shall not lie, says one of the commandments.

Then Sister V launched into a litany of the good things God has given me - good parents, good brothers, good school, good friends, food to eat, and good dresses, gold ornaments, car, dog - - --. The list was endless and I must confess that I was beginning to get impressed.

And then she turned herself into an advocate for the divine creator, presenting proofs of his great love. Her voice changed. Her eyes turned upwards on and off. Sometimes they rolled at the evidence of divine love. But what touched me – really and truly – was the way they became moist when she plunged into a superb narration of the great love which made God send his son to the earth and the shabby manner in which humans treated him. She got explicit about the passion of Christ. She shuddered and wept at every stroke of the hammer which sent the horrendous nails deeper and deeper into Jesus’ palms, feet. Held spell bound by the master story telling, I too shuddered whenever she did.

At the end of her histrionics, I was in tears.

And then she moved in for the kill.

“You were one of them, Molly. One of those brutal soldiers who tortured Jesus. Every sin you committed gave extra force to the blows of the hammer, the pain of the crown of thorns. Think, Molly ,Think, what you have done to your Lord”

I dissolved into helpless tears and asked pardon of my Lord for hurting him so much - --


  1. that was so funny!!;-D
    this must be what is called "the creation of guilt"...

    I failed sunday twice in my chequered sunday school academic life... Well I didnot clear 10th coz i had finished regular school by then and sunday class got replaced by tution!!;-P

  2. my first confession was maybe when i was 11 or so. and i still remember what i confessed. my regular 4 sins. which i still kept on saying every confession after.

    its been over 3 years since my last confession. and unfortunately i still commit those harmless 4 "sins".

    “I don’t know. I can’t feel sorry. I don’t know why”
    of course u can't feel sorry. you were 6. you act as every other 6 year old girl. to call them "sins" is terrible. how can you apologise to someone who you haven't met, haven't committed a sin against (despite people telling you that you have).

    “You were one of them, Molly. One of those brutal soldiers who tortured Jesus. Every sin you committed gave extra force to the blows of the hammer, the pain of the crown of thorns. Think, Molly ,Think, what you have done to your Lord”
    it's people like this that you REALLY don't want to spend all of eternity with. who goes around telling little children aged 6 that they were a brutal soldier? how has a 6 year old girl contributed to the death of someone who died 2000 years ago. seems illogical and absurd. u haven't "done" anything to the lord... he is a god after all... what can you possibly do to him to hurt him? humans have defined a god for us. and they will continue to do so. and that god will have human characteristics.

    "Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
    --Napoleon Bonaparte

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    It was all howlariously funny until the ----(expletive deleted:-)) made a poor 6 year old girl cry. (I know religions and their evangelists work with instilling fear and guilt at an early age and all that, but she pushed it too far.)

    11:34 PM, September 25, 2009

  5. Interesting, how the conditioning in 'guilt' is started, even from the youngest ages.
    Sr.V probably went through her own similar conditioning all through her convent life, if Karen Armstrong's (an ex-nun) description of her years in a convent are any indicator.

  6. My point was different from Karthik's. You should have published it.

    I meant, the ending was ULTRA-BORING.

  7. Beautifully written!... although I did not have a religious upbringing I remember even at 11 thinking I would like to be a perfect child, who never needed any scolding... I felt for the six year old you.

    I think sin is not a very well defined word... too big a word for a six year old. I liked your dad's response - I hope I respond like him if in a similar situation.

  8. @ anonymous
    didnt get any anon comments on this blog. the deleted one is Karthik S's which i published after expunging a word

  9. Never believed in confession.A whole load of bs.And hated being forced into it.Just so you know.Will never do it again.But you knew that,didnt you?

  10. Aunty! Great story. What's more. I feel guilty for not writing more! :(

  11. what a superb sense of humour,molly!really,truly enjoyed it.loved it line by line,word by word.

  12. You had your first confession and communion at the age of 6? Hmph. I thought it will be when you are 7 or 8 years of age. Ma'm, please be honest. At least the mind has to be developed enough to distinguish between perfect and imperfect confessions.

  13. let me make an imperfect confession, you write great:)

  14. Great post...These tears came to me a bit late when i attended my first retreat at potta, when they made the whole bunch of us kids to feel guilty for even the small pencil that we might have stole.:).Sadly confession is really something that spoilt many a catholic, as it has been grossly misinterpreted to be an official license to sin'nd then repent...I have come across many a person who would say"Ah ithu ee aazcha achandou parayumpol theernolum",no matter how grievous the sin is..Ahh.

  15. Great narration although I feel that this post would be grossly misconstrued.
    This story could turn out to be the perfect debate topic on why religion is an un necessary evil! :)

  16. Made me go back in time.... The excitment of the recieving communion followed by the celebration kind of overtook my first confession experience.....
    Kudos to Sr. V for being able to get a child to feel and understand rependence. :)

  17. The word confession what I knew is a public declaration of your faith. What else is required to explain more!!! Just good one..

  18. Confessions began with Buddhism?

  19. You have heard the story of an elderly priest's having a near-heart attack, when a 10 year old girl confessed to him that her sin was breaking the 6th Commndment; and that she did it 20-25 times a day?

  20. I recommend you read the book Bible that Jesus read by Philip Lancey...

    In childhood sins are few and uncomplicated...these I m so confused abt the complicated sins tht i hv committed..I am unable to narrate most of them to priest !!!

  21. I should have clarified. The innocent girl did not know what 'Vyabhicharikkaruthu' meant. She thought it was something to do with emitting bowel winds, for which she was being regularly taken to task by her mother.

  22. @ stoic
    good you clarified.was surviving on smelling salt ever since i read your comment:-)

  23. @ india on wheels
    dont know how i missed your comment-saw it when i checked dashboard.
    check any site for catholic + sacrament of confession. u'll get a good idea.

  24. "surviving on smelling salt ever since.."
    Yes, a question of smell.

    [You are quite good at repartee, if I may say so.]

  25. Hilarious, especially for those of us who know the characters in your story! Reminds me of the day (maybe 25 years ago?) the same Amma hauled me off to spend a good part of the day in church saying novenas because my parents and brother were flying back to the US. ((This was soon after the Air India crash that killed all its passengers.)) I remember kneeling and gnashing my teeth all day.

  26. @ anita
    ponnu makaley, athokkeykondaanu, ningal okkey oru kedum koodathey ippolum jeevikunnathu.

    @ stoic
    great compliment cominfg from u!thanks.

  27. Felt sad reading it.. even 6 year old girls are not spared? :(


Dear visitors, dont run away without leaving behind something for me :-)
By the way, if your comment does not get posted at the first click, just click once more.