Nanda Finds God
I promised a picnic for my son, Nanda’s first day of Kindergarten. Just the two of us. I met him at his classroom, said hello, and lifted him for a bear hug. I had our picnic packed into a bag slung over my shoulder. We walked the park green alongside a fence that ran the length of the school, possibly 200 feet or more until we found a cushiony patch of grass. From my bag, I pulled out a cotton tapestry and spread it across the lawn. Nanda sat facing the fence, and I sat with my back to it looking at him. I poured some lemonade from a thermos into two plastic cups. Nanda’s eyes were still fixed on the fence.
“Well, tell me, how was your first day?” I handed him some juice.
“Good.” He grabbed the cup and took a gulp, eyes not meeting mine, still gazing out at the fence or beyond the fence, maybe the schoolyard.
On paper plates, I arranged tuna fish sandwiches, carrot strips, apple slices, celery with peanut butter, and cookies. Not even the cookies grabbed his attention.
“What’s up, little one?” I waved a cookie in front of his face.
Nanda sat quiet, not the usual chatterbox with a mouth full of food.
“Hm.” He glanced over, giggled, and went back to gazing past me.
“Okay. You want to tell me what you are looking at?”
“God.” His pink face gleamed, eyes wild. He smiled and shrugged, lifted his hands into the air, then flopped them into his lap.
I thought the aliens had snatched my boy away and replaced him with a strange replica. My mind raced for what to say. He took a bite of his sandwich, crunched down a celery stick, and laughed. Okay, there he is. He’s back.
“Where is God?” I asked. Puzzled and curious.
Smiling, he tipped his head back and leaned onto his elbows.
“God is on the fence.”
I turned around to gaze at the fence. “I don’t see God.”
Nanda stilled, like trying to hear something in the distance. He sat up, stretched his hands to the sky, spread his arms wide open, and took a deep breath.
“God is on the whole fence, Mama.” He dropped his arms and smiled.
“Oh, well, I suppose that’s true.” I chuckled.
I loved that God sat on the whole fence for my son to see.
A few days earlier, in full-tantrum mode, Nanda insisted on a headstrong battle with me over bedtime. I fireman-carried him to his bedroom. He thrashed and kicked and managed to give me a bloddy nose. I released him to the floor, held onto one of his arms, and told him I’d swat his bottom if he didn’t settle down.
He stopped, pouted, and said, “If you spank me, you will be spanking God. God is in my body.”
“Okay. If you kick me, God is in my body, and he will understand if I spank you.”
Not long after the fence incident, I discovered—after my routine pee at five in the morning—Nanda fully awake, sitting an arm’s length away from the television. He had the volume turned down low. I peeked from the hallway, my son transfixed to a preacher pontificating about our Lord and Savior—Nanda latched onto an evangelistic Christian TV program.
“Good morning,” I said.
He caught me in his periphery, hit the power-off button, and scooted away from the TV. He knew not to be awake so early and not watch television without permission or supervision. I encouraged my kids to be informed, but I had to stop his lone viewing of morning gospels, concerned about what content he might ingest.
I smiled and coaxed him back to my bed to sleep. All tucked in, I kissed his forehead and whispered, “Apparently, God is in our television.”
He smiled, nuzzled his head into my shoulder, closed his eyes, and nodded yes.
by Jane Edberg
Jane Edberg is a published writer working in poetry, flash non-fiction and memoir. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts. She is a retired art professor who taught Art Appreciation, Photography and Design at various Universities and spent twenty years full-time at Gavilan College. She is currently working on a hybrid memoir of images and prose called “The Fine Art of Grieving” and authors a blog and Facebook page by the same title.
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