It so happened that Fernandez was tired that evening but un-inclined to go to bed went to the nearby place where there was a new preacher of the Bible, who had set up a small hut, where he was congregating the fisher folks and teaching them The Bible.

He called himself Apostle Zorba. It was rather strange that the so called “Apostle”, did not bear a regular Christian name. It was also difficult for the local Tamil population to get the pronunciation right and he was called ‘apposthalar soba’. Fernandez, upon entry into the hut heard Zorba read out a passage from the old Testament from the book of Exodus which ran as follows:-

King James Bible

“Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.(Exodus 22:28)

Since it was in the middle of a bible study, Fernandez had missed out the earlier part of the sermon. There were hardly ten persons who were attending the Bible study.

Fernandez heard Zorba say : It is time a Christian realized that this verse is as much a commandment from God, as the one that says, “Go & baptize ye the people in the Name of the Father, son and the Holy Ghost.” But you have seen preachers wanting to replace the existing gods with Jesus. Hence they revile the other gods.

Jesus is NOT a replacement, HE is the GOD. That is the Christian Faith and Creed. There is no need to talk of the other gods. In fact if one reads Exodus 23:13 it is written :And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

Further if one reads the book of JUDE in the New Testament, it is written (by the way there is only one chapter in the book of JUDE):

8: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10: But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

In effect, the Bible says do not say anything against other gods and also do not talk of things that man cannot understand. Therefore I tell everyone here that they have neither the knowledge nor the authority to talk of other gods.”

Fernandez was flabbergasted, it was more so because Apostle Zorba was citing the scripture and cogently building up his case. He did not listen to the rest of the sermon, his mind was going round and round the statement of Apostle Zorba : Jesus is NOT a replacement, HE is the GOD.

Fernandez found for the first time a preacher expounding the Bible in a non-traditional way. In any case he wanted to meet Diaz and discuss the sermon the next morning.

The next afternoon Fernandez met Diaz and spoke of the sermon. Diaz was amused and told Fernandez, “It is easier to believe in any god, but it is impossible to comparatively assess various religious systems and arrive at the best religion. It is the STRENGTH of BELIEF in any system that creates UNITY of the SELF and REDEEMS man. Therefore it is essential to AFFIRM without options and reservations. Hence Christianity requires one to believe in the DIVINITY of Jesus and be focussed on that belief and ONLY on that belief.

Diaz said, ” Get on with your WORK of finding the GREAT PEARL, a busy bee has no time to worry or seek the Truths pertaining to religion.”

Fernandez felt a load off his back, he dived into the warm sea water……….


After the huge homily from Diaz, Fernandez was totally confused. He was a stripling of just 16 years and had spent his years NOT getting into concepts but getting a first hand FEEL of experiences possible thru his senses. So Diaz’ use of words such as INTENTION, AWARENESS, RESIST did not give clarity to his thoughts.

Yet Fernandez was attentive to whatever Diaz was saying. He was possessed with an ambition to excel. Excel in the profession of diving for oysters, that consuming passion in a couple of days had blinded him to most of the distractions that haunt sixteen year-olds. In his free time he used to go to the nearby rock abutting the beach and keep watching the waves, as his sub-conscious mind was saturating itself with ideas on diving.

Diaz had recognized that his pep talk was not getting the receptivity for lack of conceptual understanding and therefore decided to talk on things REAL. Real in the sense, that which is palpable to the senses.

The next day afternoon, as agreed, both were off to the rock in the ocean where the previous day the test of endurance was conducted on Fernandez by Diaz. Fernandez was sitting in a relaxed manner, yet respectful of Diaz’ presence.

Diaz asked Fernandez, ” You want to get the GREAT PEARL, but do you know why there are some oysters with Pearls and mostly without?”

Upon the silence of Fernandez, Diaz continued :  ” When  an irritating grain of sand  gets stuck between  the shell of the  oyster and the mantle (just  take it as the soft body of the mollusk) the  oyster secretes a  thing called the NACRE. This nacre surrounds the  irritating grain  and  provides  a coating as a protection to the soft and tender tissues of oyster. It does not coat that grain of sand once and leave it, but keeps coating it with the secretion called Nacre on a regular basis. It is this multi coating that gains in size over a few years and becomes a pearl.”

Fernandez was quite amazed that the pearl was nothing but an irritant that the oyster copes with through glossing. He was of the opinion that the Pearls were nothing but productions by oysters to establish their superiority over the non-pearl oysters. Now, his notions were severely challenged. It was the product of its  defect that the oyster was incapable of ejecting from its body at the first instance and  concealing it for years.

Diaz broke in, ” The oysters that were strong enough to eject the grains of sand or prevent the grain of sand from getting between the shell and the mantle DO NOT PRODUCE PEARLS. It is the ones which were incapable or careless that allowed the grain to get  that far which MAY produce pearls. But all the oysters that let the sand that far did not produce pearls either. There are many oysters which have grains between their shells and their mantles, yet have been harvested and found NOT to contain  Pearl.

It is the oyster which had turned its ADVERSITY into a pleasant ACTIVITY that produced PEARLS. The oyster has to coat that grain of sand with Nacre and has to daily coat the irritant with the nacre and thus the PEARL grows. The pearl is considered of value by the human beings not merely because of  the LUSTRE, but the IDEA that a NATURAL PEARL is distinguishable from the cultured ones and that the natural ones are RARE.

The oyster which had turned its difficulty into an activity over a long period, enjoys the smooth feel of the pearl. It feels no more of the irritation on its soft flesh. The pearl is the symbol of its overcoming its ADVERSITY with hopeful ACTIVITY.”

This interpretation of the Pearl dumbfounded Fernandez. He was so far seeing the Pearl as a commodity that he ought to find to escape poverty and lead a comfortable life. He was wondering if he should believe the story given out by Diaz.

The day was a waste, nothing was done. While Diaz was sitting on the rock, Fernandez was floating around in the waters and diving and coming up at intervals, but with no purpose or challenge. Diaz had drifted into his metaphysical thoughts. Both swam and walked back with silence for company. Fernandez was still disappointed- PEARL:mere saliva on a grain of sand!!
(to be continued….)