One day I relaxed on the backyard decking with a glass of chilled Riesling, watching the birds - real feathered types - pecking away at the seeds thrown to them by a little boy. Let's call the young lad Tee-tee.
Tee-tee suddenly turned to me and asked, "Do you know who Lilith was?"
A little stunned at Tee-tee's knowledge of Lilith, I asked curiously where he learnt about her. He answered rather nonchalantly "In school, during Bible class."
I must say that hadn't been the case when I was in Bible class eons ago, where my mates and I made do with just Eve. Seeing that Tee-tee was still waiting for my answer to his query, I nodded. He then shot another question at me, whence by then I had an ominous feeling I was been driven slowly into quicksand. I saw all these in by his bright, piercing and very curious eyes.
"Who was she?"
I riposted, "I thought you learnt that in school?" - an evasive attempt to avoid awkward explanations. I was rather pleased with my brilliant verbal manoeuvre.
"I like to learn a bit more from you." Oh oh oh! Young Napoleonic Tee-tee has seized the military initiative with this offensive – nope, he sure wasn't going to let me get away. He then twisted his psychological knife in my side a little bit more by adding: “I saw you reading a book called Lilith’s Dream – A Tale of the Vampire Life.”
How in the bloody world did the wee brat know that?
Moral of the story – be careful around kids, 'cause they pick up minute details that you aren’t even aware of.
I knew I was approaching a veritable mine field, thus I hesitated for a while to regroup my thoughts 'ere I answered. I had to choose my words very carefully.
According to Jewish beliefs or legend (in which case why was Tee-tee learning this in a Catholic school?), first man Adam had another wife before Eve. Like Adam, she was made from earth too. No sirree, she wasn't a mere rib material. Would that make her equal to Adam?
The No 1 Lady was called Lilith, but she didn't get along well with old Adam, so she was expelled from the Garden.
Of course it was gross simplification. OK, I was a coward for skirting around the juicier and occult bits, but hey, we are dealing with a kid in his very tender years..
Well, that’s it then! I began to congratulate myself for handling a tricky situation rather well, and indulged straightaway with a hugh gulp of wine. That was when he caught by surprise that nearly left me choking on my Riesling.
"She was rebellious, wasn't she?" Tee-tee fired off that terrifying information like a Rumsfeld's cruise missile. Shattered by shock and awe, I turned slowly to look at him, trying to discern whether he understood that misogynous biblical euphemism.
Simultaneously, in a mere fraction of a sub-second these thoughts rang through my mind - My God! Was Lilith ‘rebellious’? She most certainly was. She was the mother of them ‘rebellious’ women – vroom and wow and oh la la! And that’s why those ancient religious misogynists hated her.
I must confess then, my most un-Biblical-like mind zoomed to images of a wild wanton Lilith straddling and riding a startled and confused Adam lying on his back in the Garden of Eden while unicorns, griffins and the phoenix cheered them on.
But looking at Tee-tee's solemn face and innocent eyes I felt ashamed at my quick diversion to X-rated Garden. To avoid my voice giving away my naughty thoughts, I gave a non-committal quick nod to him.
By then, I was very wary of his inquisitive, inquiring and inquisitorial probing, which went on for a while. After a fairly long discussion - more like a Kempetai interrogation - I felt safe enough to take a large swallow of my wine.
That's when he, with solemn face and innocence, dropped the 1000-megaton GPS-guided GBU-37 GAM bunker-buster question that had me spluttering the Riesling all over the decking.
"Was Lilith a virgin when she left Eden?"
Praise be to the Lord, who is One, for my startled spluttering. It saved me from answering that. I exploited that cover to make a hasty retreat to the toilet where I locked myself away from further grilling by a one-boy Gestapo-like Royal Commission of Inquiry.