Tying the knot

In India, did you know that there are more places of worship than schools or hospitals? Did you know that religious pilgrimage accounts for a sizable percentage of the total tourism every year? Did you know that studies have shown that the more educated we get the more the fundamental aspects of religion appeal to us? You may not have been aware of all that but you do know that everyone from cricketers to celebrities to politicians give generously to temples and other places of worship in the hopes of successfully bribing God into assuring them a good sporting series, movie or term in office. Right? So, does religion matter to us Indians? I don’t think I even need to answer that question…

VNY_4999Moving to marriage now, it’s a big step. It’s one of the most important responsibilities that a good number of parents believe they are entrusted with – making sure that their offspring are well settled so that they always have companionship and love in their lives. Most parents believe that that love will come only if the other person shares the same religious beliefs as their child. Perhaps, in a way, they’re not wrong. Any married person (unless they are really lucky) will tell you that marriage requires some amount of hard work. Even if you have matching horoscopes or have said the same prayers to the same God all your life; you’ll still have days when you want to wring his or her neck because you just can’t seem to agree on anything. It’s normal (I think). But, when you add religious differences to the mix, things can get dangerous. Remember, wars have been fought in the name of religion.

Being in love is beautiful. Finding someone who can make you happy and is there for you when you need them is a surreal feeling. I doubt that until things get really serious, religion even plays on your mind. But, when it does, suddenly knowing that there will come a day when you won’t enjoy the freedom to go to the place of worship you’ve gone to all your life seems like a frightening reality to me. The idea of having to compulsorily take a bath and perform a small religious ceremony before entering the kitchen in the morning, or having to wear a burqa and never venturing outside without a male chaperon, or eating with people who have no qualms about what kind of meat they are consuming or how the animal has been slaughtered becomes a very real future and one, which if it was me, I don’t know if I could handle. But, that’s just me.

Perhaps, all of it can be overcome if the couple is strong enough to face whatever or whoever opposes their union. Liberal enough in the way they think to adopt a lifestyle which is perhaps more spiritual than religious, in the conventional terms, and accept that their children will by default be registered with the same faith as the husband. Be willing to make compromises of a degree that I don’t think other marriages normally require, especially in our pretend-secular-tolerant India. Finally, to be so in love that the idea of being without each other is unfathomable. Without all of that, to my mind, the outlook of inter-caste/faith/race/whatever marriages succeeding in a country of such high religious fervour is not that bright.

So, I don’t think the concept of inter-faith marriage is entirely taboo. But, I feel that for it to become accepted as routine or normal, we need to abandon being religious and become spiritual instead.

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Written for Indispire – 25 hosted on Indiblogger. – “Inter-religion marriage still taboo among Indians. You’re take.”

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UBC15: Little Martha

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”  Aldous Huxley

For the past couple of days my husband’s fingers have been dancing on his guitar fretboard while he plays his cover of “Little Martha” by the Allman Brothers Band. I had never heard it before but since I did, it’s been stuck in my head…in a beautiful sort of way. There are certain kinds of music that make you feel things…happy, sad, scared or even just overwhelmed. This is that sort. It makes me feel. It makes me smile.

Here’s the original. Give it a listen. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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Her Safe Place

At the library, her parents’ loud, harsh, cruel words which were directed at each other but always made her cry, couldn’t reach her. She dreaded having to leave when Mr. J turned the lights off at about 8.

In the library, she was always in her safe place…lost in beautiful worlds filled with happy endings.

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This is part of Write Tribes 55 on Friday. The prompt was a wonderful picture of a girl tucked behind a book case lost in her book….this was my take on it. Please visit Write Tribe to read lots of other wonderful 55ers. 🙂

55 on Friday #WriteTribe

Her Parcel

The box had been delivered to her that afternoon and lay temptingly on her table. It wasn’t her birthday and she was beyond your regular curious to know what the big square carton contained. No matter what she did, the parcel kept drawing her gaze. When she pushed it gently, small things seemed to move inside, rattling and rustling as they brushed against each other in the confines of their paper prison. She ran her fingers on the outside, thrilling to the touch of the silky smoothness of the ribbon, eyes closed in concentration trying to figure out what treasures it held using only the power of her mind. Strangely, there was no return address so she wasn’t able to tell who it was from.

She had called him on the phone as soon as it came to ask if she could rip open the packaging and examine the contents. But he wasn’t even half as excited as she was. He asked her irrelevant questions about the box and then said no. A firm, absolute NO. She almost begged him to reconsider but he was not to be swayed.

He said that the box was too heavy for her to move. She had pushed it a little. It was a feather-weight box!

He said that she wasn’t as strong as she thought. She didn’t think so.

He said when he came home he would help her open the package. She wasn’t two years old!

He said that she could get injured. Opening a box?

He said the contents could be dangerous. Honestly? Who would want to hurt her?

He said that she should wait. For him to open her box??

He said she should keep herself occupied. When there was a package that had come for her?

He said he would be back soon. He bloody well should be, she thought.

He made her promise to wait. She agreed. Meekly. The sheer injustice!

He said. She did. Some days she got so angry with how he controlled everything she did. But most days, she was so tired that she was glad he had the reins to her life.

She sighed as she accepted that maybe he was right. Perhaps she wasn’t all that strong, some days she felt too weak to walk the short distance from her bed to the bathroom and he had to help her. But, today was a good day! She had even had breakfast on her own…and then napped till the doorbell rang and forced her out of bed…sigh…

She walked to the full length mirror that hung on her bedroom door and studied the woman staring back at her. She remembered how in the beginning, she loved looking at that mirror, watching as almost everyday the fat seemed to melt off her body. She had flirted naughtily with imaginary men and then ended things by flashing her wedding ring. She had never looked that good. She thought. But now, with that figure, she could have been a super model. She thought. She was tall and pencil thin. Just what the agencies wanted. She thought. Then. But, the weight loss didn’t stop. She couldn’t bear to look at herself anymore and asked him to take down the mirror. He had. Since the treatment began, she had become almost skeletal and lost all her hair. Her beautiful raven coloured hair. She had loved the way it made her look. But, it just fell off in bunches until one day he said she should shave it off because he thought she looked beautiful anyway. That’s when she asked him to put the mirror back up again.

Today, she was just as thin as ever and even though the frequency of her sessions had reduced, she hadn’t regained any weight. She was still skinny. But, that was alright she thought. What saddened her most was that there wasn’t even the slightest hint of fuzz on her head. It didn’t look like her hair was making a coming back. She missed her long hair. She turned away from the mirror and wished she hadn’t looked at it at all. Was she vain? Probably…but, any woman who said she didn’t care about the way she looked was a liar she thought.

She looked out the window and noticed the sky had turned a beautiful red. He would be back any minute. When she heard the key turn in the lock, she rushed to the door, scarcely giving him a peck on the cheek before pulling him towards her box. He laughed as he sat with her to open up her package. He pulled out a small box containing some fancy looking pens. There was a roll of handmade paper. A box containing little bits and bobs for her artwork. As he kept pulling out little things that she loved, she realized that the package was probably from him and grew more and more happy. Finally, she pushed the box a little and it felt empty so she sat back to examine her loot. What a haul! She was delighted. But, it wasn’t over. He put his hand in the box one last time and pulled out something long and black. She looked at it confused, before her eyes widened, registering what it was.

There in the light of the setting sun, she ran to the mirror, the one she had begun to loathe and put on the wig. She looked at herself and smiled. She looked beautiful again. She thought. She was the luckiest woman in the world. She thought. Who else would know what little things made her so happy? Who else would have thought of a wig?

She asked him why. He told her that he wanted her to feel beautiful again, even though he had never thought she was anything else. She looked at him with happy tears in her eyes.

He said he would do anything to see her smile like that. She said that she loved him.

Maybe she really was the luckiest woman in the world. She thought…no…she knew.

(This was part of a Flash Fiction challenge using five randomly generated words which were, figure, dusk, flirt, mobile phone and wig)