Holy Knots

The best Easter memories are centred around the nucleus that is my grandparents’ home. Yes, there was a lot of convention and religion, but there was also endless amounts of love and ritual. Oh, the power of the ritual is strong. On the ‘good Thursday’, the Thursday before Easter, we’d all congregate at church to hear the 12 gospels – 12 stories chosen to describe the events around the capture of Jesus, the Messiah. These 12 stories were by 4 different authors, the famous evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I remember that some of the stories lacked continuity, the details from one not matching with the others. I never asked anyone about it, but I remember reflecting on it and thinking that it must have been due to some poor translation and the centuries that passed in between the time of the writing and that of the reading. Yes, the seed of doubt had been planted in my head. As wed’ listen to these 12 gospels, we had to pay attention, focus with all our might and pray. Once one was over, we would tie a knot on a handkerchief. By the night’s end we would have 12 knots, 3 on each corner. Through the year, as we encountered hardship or had some ardent wish we wanted come true, we’d whisper the wish to the discreet winds and untie a knot. If we had truly paid attention to the gospel, listened with all our might and prayed, the wish would come true.
In reality nobody could tie 3 knots to one handkerchief corner. We had all tried and failed, ending up borrowing pieces of string from our comrades on which to tie our knots and place our hopes. Nobody knew how this knot superstition came about or why one had to use handkerchiefs instead of ordinary pieces of string. What we knew was that if the wish didn’t come true was either because we’d used string not the desired godly material – the ‘chief, or because we hadn’t paid enough attention to the gospel.  Yes, this is the reason a pre-teen would go to church on the godliest of weeks – Easter week. I remember being in church, kneeling, for you had to be kneeling during the gospels, looking up and seeing the screwed-up face of my friend, struggling to tie yet another knot in a handkerchief that was already bursting with holy knots. She would give up soon thereafter and beg for a piece of string. On our way home from church we’d fantasise about the potential knot-worthy wishes we had, all the while feeling elated that we’d been to church and were now fully in touch with our spiritual selves. 

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