After the "Hellos" and the "Good days", there was an awkward silence. The priest broke it when he said, with pride in his voice, "Piscine is a good Christian boy. I hope to see him join our choir soon."
My parents, the pandit and the imam looked surprised.
"You must be mistaken. He's a good Muslim boy. He comes without fail to Friday prayer, and his knowledge of the Holy Qur'an is coming along nicely." So said the imam.
My parents, the priest and the pandit looked incredulous.
The pandit spoke. "You're both wrong. He's a good Hindu boy. I see him all the time at the temple coming for darshan and performing puja."
My parents, the imam and priest looked astounded.
"There is no mistake," said the priest. "I know this boy. He is Piscine Molitor Patel and he's a Christian."
"I know him too, and I tell you he's a Muslim," asserted the imam.
"Nonsense!" cried the pandit. "Piscene was born a Hindu, lives a Hindu and will die a Hindu!"
The three wise men stared at each other, breathless and disbelieving.
Lord, avert their eyes from me, I whispered in my soul.
All eyes fell upon me.