Yesterday, I successfully evaded Ash Wednesday Service for the umpteenth time.
I cannot remember my last proper Ash Wednesday service. It may have been 2007 whilst still enslaved to the fashionably religious and pretentiously intellectual parish in PJ across the Federal Highway.
Yes, I know that this is a time of fast and abstinence.
Instead I spent the day sorting out the niggardly unserviceabilities of my ol' faithful 1992 SEG, then cycled 33 measly kilometres to Universiti Malaysia Sabah and back and finished the night pigging out on Basmathi and dried prawn sambal courtesy of Harry's charitable wife.
Her advice, relayed through a most emphatic Harry, was to only heat up what was necessary for a meal. So after I prised off the lid of that tupperware, I glanced at the rust-red heap and took out a huge droolworthy tablespoon to be refrigerated and did justice to the remainder.
I admit that I am not the most exemplary of Catholics, and the reason for a delayed death is that my pyre in Hades is still under continous construction to befit my calibre.
I am not proud of my departure from my Catholic upbringing, even though I did not really undergo any version of a sackcloth and ashes regimen.
Yes, whilst I lived with my aunts and uncles and cousins, my grandmother would keep everyone faithful by administering a rassam and salted fish diet during the fasting period. Yeah, absolutely no meat on Fridays. I didn't feel the loss really. It was pre-adolescence and it formed Pavlovian in less than three weeks, and stayed with me till I left home.
It was service life that finally exorcised me of almost all Catholic fast and abstinence, hurriedly replacing it with all manner of indulgence.
Food was probably the only satiably good thing that I had in Cadet Wing. The rest was hell. The seniors, the unceasing ironing, polishing, digging trenches, claymores, leeches and worst of all, watermanship, were the stark contrast of unpleasantries whilst food was not. So when Fridays came, the special lunch spread they had in the cookhouse before mosque parades was nigh impossible for me to turn my nose up at. And so yes, I ate of the flesh of the fowl on Fridays.
Now, this rolling stone has amassed so much moss that it is no closer to the foci of its ever expanding orbit by growth of its girth.
Maybe over these forty days I may go white dwarf, get back to the centre, and return to some honest Lenten practise.
Lest I forget, that I am dust, and unto dust shalt I return.