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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Life Book

'Tis the season for snow, carols, bell-ringers, gifts....and proselytizers?

M received her first attempt at proselytizing in guise of a 'holiday gift' from a classmate. I had noted before that Z seemed to come from a solidly Christian household, with walls covered with crosses and Christian kitsch art galore on the one occasion that I had allowed M to attend a birthday party there. I thought nothing much of it at the time.

M came back from school the other day, brandishing a bag full of gifts and goodies from her friends, most of which were thoughtfully tailored to her interests, except for this odd little white book.

Z had packaged it delicately in white paper with a gold design, attached a thoughtful gushy note in blue paper about how M's innocent query about some bracelet she sported had triggered this 'impulse to share'. More blah-blah about 'It would be the best holiday gift if M would just read the book over the break, and to be sure to contact her via email with any questions.'

The 'hit back' urge was strong. "What if you gave her the mini-Bhagavadgita as a return present?"  M laughed and said "That might be a good idea." But then I nixed it after thinking, Z would most likely toss it in the trash, so strongly convinced might she be of the absolute rightness of her path.

I skimmed through the book, written in the format of Cliff notes of the Bible, just in more contemporary language, with faux notes in the margins by three or four 'representative' Bible-studying demographics- teen girl, young man with Xtian girlfriend, 'repentant sinner and former jailbird' and 'sceptical' young man. Z had added her own sticky notes in spots. I ached to supply answers to them and pondered the idea of returning the book to her in a gift bag, with my own real notes and answers to her sticky-note questions. I nixed that idea as well.

So now the book sits quietly in a corner of my bookshelf, jostling for space with the latest 'Mahabharata' contemporary retelling and Jhumpa Lahiri. It feels too mean to consign it to the trashcan, so there it will sit, until the next round of clear-the-bookshelf by giving away unread/unwanted books to the Friends of the Library booksale.

And meanwhile, I try to come up with suitable ways to teach M a life lesson that I suspect that she has already learned- how to be gracious to pushy people without giving in to them or their agenda.