Directions for questions 1 to 6:
The passage given below is followed by a set of six questions. Choose the most appropriate answer to each question.
My mother, deeply rooted in the peasant culture of her native Punjab, was always immersed in the supernatural. She was born into Sikhism, but - like many Indians of her generation - her knowledge of her religion was never strong. She could never name its 10 founding gurus; nor had she any interest in its monist theology which encourages an internal experience of God through meditation.
Her Sikhism was an emotionally driven, personal mishmash of various customs from across the subcontinent - most of it Hindu. She visited temples daily, prayed each morning and chanted Sanskrit hymns - without understanding a word - while wafting incense through the house. And she fasted - a lot
Her religion was disordered, ad-hoc and impossible to pin down, but it was a constant in my life and it inspired me. I have an abiding love of myth - the first book I took out of a library was about the Greek heroes - and I find India and its spiritual traditions enchanting. I've made dozens of pilgrimages there to sites of Sikh martyrdom, birthplaces of Hindu avatars and the shrines of Sufi babas. I have a lasting fascination with yoga and mystical experiences.
Mum’s supernatural thinking - her certainty that creation was shaped by divine beings and magical forces, and influenced by spells and curses - was, I felt, a link between myself and my ancestors, stretching back millennia. I loved talking to her about the stories in the Puranas, about Krishna battling snake-devils and Shiva churning the oceans for the nectar of immortality, on her terms - as things that actually happened - and seeing her light up with excitement at the tales
But last year she found Jesus - and all her fantastical pagan ways went out of the window. She had begun to seek Him in earnest the year before. My mother works for a catering company in Southall, west London, cleaning the dishes that come off the planes at nearby Heathrow Airport, and it was an evangelist colleague, a former Sikh, who invited her to a Christian prayer service in a local church. “I felt peace straight away," Mum said. “From the first time I went and listened to people’s testimonies, about how Jesus had healed and changed their lives, I felt peace."
She continued visiting the church, which has a north- Indian congregation and conducts its services in Punjabi, and lost interest in her old ways. Then Jesus came to her in a dream: “He held my hand," she told me. “He said he was with me and wouldn’t leave me. I woke up and I could still feel it."
Her conversion itself wasn’t too surprising. The story of Jesus is, by Indian standards, a plausibly humdrum one. Most Indian villagers could point you towards someone who cures the sick, raises the dead and knows the secret of eternal life. And the morphing of religions has always been a common occurrence there. What unnerved me was my sense of betrayal, the painful sense of rejection as Mum turned her back on what had been our abiding bond. It felt like she'd turned her back on me.