The Innocent

They came out to join her as she waited, hands on her tense shoulders. It’d been ages since she’d been allowed to meet him. Today they’d finally given in to her pleas.

When she saw him coming, she ran to him sobbing, “Dada!!! I miss you so much!” He swallowed hard, holding her tight in arms that were ordinary except for a band of lighter coloured skin on one finger. There once was a ring there; matching one the woman at the door used to wear.

Looking upwards, bitterly he asked, “Why, God, are the innocent always the hardest hit?”

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Written for Indispire – 68 hosted on Indiblogger.in – “Do you have questions for God?” #QuestionsForGod

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Ready

She looked into the room where a woman was lying on the bed she’d shared with her husband for decades. He was next to her, holdingthe-reaper-296535_1280 her hand and stroking her now cold cheek. Her children and grandchildren were gathered round at the foot of the bed, seeking comfort and solace in each other. Her best friend, as grey and wrinkled as she’d become, was there; strong; helping hold everyone together. The lady wore a smile.

The one at the door turned to the cloaked figure carrying a scythe next to her and whispered, “Thank you. I am ready now.”

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Pic Credit: Here

Written for Indispire – 64 hosted on Indiblogger.in– If you could plan your death, how would you plan it?

And now we talk of culture

Culture….when I think of the quintessential feature of Indian culture I think of tolerance and respect.

Having lived in the Middle East, and that too in one of the more liberal nations, I still know how fortunate we expats were to be able to go to a church or a temple when there were others across borders nearby who couldn’t for fear of persecution and prosecution. When I was taught that India is a secular nation, it warmed my heart. I mean, how beautiful is it that we are not defined by the majority religion, instead, we have the fundamental right…the freedom to profess the faith of our choice. How many people in the world have suffered for their beliefs? While here we are, a highly populous country where you can worship as you wish knowing that for the most part, it makes no difference to anyone.

When I watched PK, that controversial Aamir Khan movie, my favourite scene was the one where he looks for a stamp on a baby to see what determines the faith to which he would belong. As I see it, religion is something you inherit from your parents and whether you decide to openly profess those practices or ignore the rituals completely is a choice you’re allowed to make.

secular(1)My closest friends belong to different faiths and I don’t care. Never have and never will. All I know is that I would trust them with my life and even the more precious life of my child. I know that they are good people. Isn’t that all that matters to most of us? That the people we call friends are good people? Does anyone truly care if they eat beef or pork or drink alcohol? Does it make a difference to anybody if they pray at a church or temple or mosque or not at all? I would like to think not. I would like to believe that it is only certain fringe elements of society that are trying to make popular a different tune… Sure, we have witnessed violent religious clashes in the past, but somehow until recently it seemed all for some political advantage  or the other and common people; like you and I were just victims. Why does the case seem different today? In my eyes, being of a certain community could never make you more or less Indian.

India…glorious India where children grew up waiting for festivals of their neighbours to burst crackers, light diyas and devour delicious sweets or help decorate trees, sing Christmas carols and eat rich plum-cake or even poke their heads into kitchens waiting for a serving of delicious biriyani that’s got their tummies rumbling. That is my India….not this one we seem to be turning into. Not one where I am fearful my entire opening paragraph to this post needs to be converted to the past tense. Not one where we have forgotten how to live and let live. And most definitely not one where more and more of us seem to actually care whether the person sitting next to us on a bus is a Mary or Ahmed or Radha….

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Photo credit: Here

Written for Indispire – 57 hosted on Indiblogger.in. “A lot is opposed as being ‘against Indian culture’. What is Indian culture? #IndianCulture”

Our dirty little habits

We are proud Indians but sometimes, I wonder if we are nothing but a confused nation. We seem to want to ape the rest of the world and when it comes to fashion, music and clothes we’ve done a pretty good job. Young girls and boys wearing traditional attire are novelty items, knowing how to play the mrudangam or the sitar is considered extremely traditional and even listening to Indian classical music is “so not cool”. We adopted their ideas of culture but, somehow were unable to do the same with their ideas of civic responsibility and sense.

Dressed up in the best branded clothes money can buy, you set off from home in your fancy car or bike and then you suddenly pull up at the side of the road. You get out, and blissfully ignorant of the passing traffic, you whip out your stuff and generously water the ground. This is mainly a guy thing and I’m sorry to have targeted you first but, when I think of “our dirty little habits”, this is the first thing that comes to mind. Use a public toilet for crying out loud!! I know you’re going to say that they are in decrepit condition and they stink and are dirty but have you thought that perhaps if you used them instead of the space next to a bus stop, there would be an incentive to maintain them better!?! I have passed walls that smell so strongly of urine I’ve had to hold my breath and run to get away before I threw up. Keep it in your pants you guys!!

From a nation of starving people, we’ve become one where the fitness industry is booming. What does that say, huh? We’ve come a long way.sign-34162_640 We spend hours in the gym to get into shape, but, we can’t expend even a couple of calories to walk to a dustbin to throw away an empty soft drink bottle or a packet of chips or used tissue paper. Now I know there aren’t many accessible garbage cans and I even have a friend who wants to get a ‘garbage control organization’ running once she has retired to deal with India’s garbage problem, so I feel your pain. But, you have a dustbin at home don’t you? Put the waste in your bag or pocket and dispose of it at home! It isn’t that hard.

Finally, I think our worst habit is that most of us spread disunity without even realizing it. We are a big country full of people with the tendency to look at someone and brand them as North Indian or South Indian and then decide that they must have a certain attitude before even getting to know them. It’s such a common characteristic among us, it’s quite pathetic. Being proud of where you are from is great, but, looking down on and making fun of people who are not from that place is wrong on so many levels. The other habits; urinating in public places and littering – they can be corrected quite easily. But, this is a mindset problem and much like trying to teach men that women and children are their equals, I’m afraid that this too might take a generation or two.

I’m Indian and I’m proud to be one. But, I know I could be prouder.

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Written for IndiSpire – 24 – Which bad habit of Indians would you like to change for our India?