I am a…

Growing up I was told we were Hindus. My father born in a Brahmin (priestly) family staked claim of how superior we were. My mother kept it neutral, her father was a Namboothiri (priestly) and mother a Nair (not priestly). None of this deterred them from sending me to Bishop Cottons a Christian School. Here I recited the “Our Father in heaven”, every working day for ten years of my life. Teachers read from the Bible, we learnt the hymns and it was all Christian. Irrespective of the faith your family followed, every student followed the same Christian rules.

My family’s Hindu-ness was limited to the corner of the kitchen adorned with photos of Hindu Gods, a lamp was lit everyday and the yearly trip to Guruvayoor (a Hindu temple). There was absolutely no other show of religion in any manner. So I grew up amidst the Hindu believers at home and Christian believers at school which I think just neutralized the whole concept of religion in my mind. Was I divided? I don’t think so, it didn’t matter much. I prayed before an exam, before I got my marks, or to win a competition. That summed up religion for me.

Muslims were a different category altogether. My father has been blessed (pun intended) with the skills to identify a Hindu from a Christian from a Muslim and immediately tag them with certain behavior. I am glad that my mother kept me grounded and taught me to respect the person first before their religion. So wading between these beliefs and catching up on Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bible on the television shows aired on Doordarshan, I grew up.

Fast forward a few years and I ended up marrying a Christian. Nothing was new to me because I had said the Lord’s prayer for ten years of my life. I was baptized in order to get married in a church. At that point love was blind and bigger than religion so I said, why not? So I crossed the bridge and tried to adapt to new ways and all of those religious accessories that come with the conversion. A few years along I wake up from the dream, the love is there but not blind like the dating days and I tell my husband that I am going to cross the bridge back. To my good luck his belief in religion was also on an as needed basis. So he let me choose what I wished to follow all along. Although some of the extended family had strong beliefs, we sailed past those with some manouvering.

Now I am the mother of two teenage boys and the last thing I want to teach them is religion. They know in theory what these religions and their beliefs are, but then, what’s the point? This world is heading to a place where religion has taken precedence over humanity, so I ask myself, shouldn’t I be teaching them humanity? Based on how independently teenagers think, I don’t think ten years down the line, religion will be upheld the way it is today. Everywhere you hear news about sexual abuse in the churches, which I see the”informed” generation rejecting. There is a ton of gold and money donated to Hindu temples and I wonder why? Shouldn’t that be used instead to feed hungry children, give them an education? Why does this world need any more temples or churches or mosques or other centers of worship when one cannot uplift and uphold the human within?

I am not against religion, but dead against the belief of religion that divides people. By the law of nature there are only two categories of humans, the XX chromosome and XY chromosome combination. Every other divide whether it’s based on religion, color, race are created by some person. I am tending towards believing that the only religion that should exist is humanity. Abolish every other religion, practice and belief. Every XX respects XY and vice versa, that’s all that needs to exist to make this a better place. I know this is wishful thinking and the world and it’s people are so segregated that all they can think of is either themselves or their small community.

Is it too late to look at the larger picture?

At the coffeehouse…

“You really don’t share anything with me, do you?”, I asked.

After many years Akash and I went the coffeehouse we frequented before we got married. The cashier chuckled and winked as we walked hand in hand, eons ago. The place had changed significantly and so had the people…

Akash put down the cup on the table and stretched back in his chair. He folded his hands behind his head and looked out through the window. I sat looking at his face and thinking, this is the man I chose to marry twenty years ago. He looks the same, then what changed between us?

He leaned forward and took my hands in his. He fiddled with my bangles for a bit and looked into my eyes.

“Nandu, I am moving out. There is someone else…”, I sat in silence, my eyes were welling up, why do they do that? Why can’t they wait for the right moment, maybe when I am alone? I looked up, in an attempt to send the tears back to where they came from.

I withdrew my hand. Gathered my purse from the table, my phone and the keys. Why don’t I put everything in a bag instead of carrying fragments, why ain’t I whole? My sunglasses, where were they? Oh they were on my head, holding my hair in place. As I stood up, my saree got stuck under the chair. I chose to wear a saree he got me for my birthday, a beautiful pastel green and now it was stuck. Can I make a clean exit?

I finally walked out… of the coffeehouse…

Day 4 : Life lessons – Companionship

Companionship is the ultimate requirement, objective, end state of all relationships. I have seen this in my own life and in people whose paths have crossed mine over the years.

Yesterday I was talking to my dad who has been living alone for over three years now after my mother passed. He was telling me that when he sits alone and reminisces his earlier years with my mother, he wonders why he did the things he did or why he said the things he said. He added when we are together we just want to prove that we are better than the other, it’s when you lose the companion you truly understand what companionship meant.

I read a literacy contest winning short story – Mrinalini. A lady leaves her family, children, grand children to find her old self. After several years her family finds her. When her husband sees her, he asks her if he could spend a few days with her. To which she replies – the loneliness is wonderful but one still needs a companion to share it.

There is my friend who got married to a guy from her college, one year senior. I have always marveled and watched in awe, their companionship after sixteen years of marriage. I know for a fact that they are the couple who will grow old together, sit on a bench by the sea, many years down the line, laughing about their early years. They talk to each other probably three to four times a day. He calls her at lunch or she calls him at lunch. It’s probably not lovey-dovey messages after sixteen years of marriage, but the need to talk to each other AND the need to listen to each other. That is marriage, love and companionship.

I have seen companionship in my children as well. The older one walks in after school and his first question everyday for the last so many years is “where is Kevin?” The things they share with each other, the constant talking, discussions makes me feel blessed. There are many things my older one knows about the younger one. It’s not my unavailability, but that’s the companionship they share.

There are friends, there are acquaintances, there are relatives, there are siblings, there is family, but there is only one companion. This is the person where you have no filters, you step in and out of their soul like your own. This is like wine that only gets better with time.

Companionship is probably just another word for soulmate, the one who complements you, completes you. These just get better with age, life experiences, life lessons and so on. For my companion, my husband, I am truly blessed. Having him with me, physically or mentally means, I am home.