Growing up in two heavily religious countries, the concept of not having a religion was something demonic and unacceptable.
It’s not that atheists don’t exist in heavily religious countries, but most atheists hide their beliefs in fear of persecution.
From a very young age, I was exposed to the idea of God. I was told that there was a man in the sky who was watching over me and I had to be at my best behaviour at all times in order to have good things happen to me.
When I had to go through obstacles in life, I was told it was because “God” was “testing my faith” and that I had to accept everything and not question anything.
My abusive, alcoholic father and my never-present mother were all “tests from God” but nobody ever said that I had shitty parents. I had to respect them no matter what so that God wouldn’t punish me.
Back in the day, my father used to be what some call a religious fanatic who would never accept any negative comments about his religion and was ready to kill and die for it.
In fact, he had killed for it when he had to fight against religious persecution during a dark period for our people. They called him a hero, my mother and I knew better.
He later went on to become a drug addict and an alcoholic who died from an illness while I was about 10 years old. If only he knew his daughter would grow up to renounce the religion he held so dear to him, he would put a bullet through my head. After all, it wasn’t something he hadn’t done before.
I had been exposed to multiple religions all at once. As a child growing up in India, I went to a convent school that was run by nuns and took Bible studies, had Hindu neighbours and my mother practised Hinduism on a daily basis and by birth, I was a Sikh.
A few years after my father’s passing, my mother moved back to Malaysia, her home country that is also a predominantly Muslim nation. I was exposed to Islam and at the same time, I went to a Sikh majority school where I was exposed to my own religion.
I must say, they had me at first.