Sky God and Religion in Catherine Lim's The Bondmaid

Shortly after the novel opens, we learn that Han's mother prays and makes offerings to the Sky God every day until in fury at her impoverished, despairingy situation, she kicks over the divinity's altar.

Every morning she lit a joss-stick to the great god who manifested himself in fiery rumbles of thunder and lightning across the skies, which children were taught to greet with soft reverential 'pup pup' noises with their lips, to catch some of this sweeping divine energy. The energy was also in the god's huge staring eyes, the immense streams of black hair and beard, the sunburst of gleaming victorious spears on his back, and most of all, the mighty feet laid on a heap of crushed, yowling demons, as he sat, legs wide apart, on his golden throne and received the obeisance of a thousand worshippers.

Sky God listened to prayers, but imperfectly. He had eyes and ears, but they were only half-opened. For Sky God had brought him back safely to her but put between them fearful walls. Sky God, playful in the monkey disguise, teased and tantalised, prancing about and kicking holes in the walls with his monkey feet, only to close them up again if she peeped and tried to reach for him.

She was once more behind the wall of his immense indifference. He had broken through the wall once, in answer to Sky God's command which had, in turn, been in answer to her prayer, and had duly defended her against unkindness with his kindness. The duty done, he had withdrawn into his own world again, saying, 'You in your place, me in mine.'[173-74]

, 341-43


Lim, Catherine. The Bondmaid. [1995] London: Oriel, 1997.

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Catherine Lim