Dear “Secular” Hindu:
First of all, you’re not secular but are a Pluralist. You have now been independent for a long time, long enough to know good from bad, right from wrong and you have been endowed with brains to use! The god you believe in has been kind to you and yet, you have not reciprocated that. It’s understandable, what with the different pressures that society applies on you, like secularism, pluralism, apparent western philosophy (don’t ask me what that means since it doesn’t make any sense but you have that pressure too)! Your parents really never had these pressures, all they had to do was go to work and come home; you, on the other hand, need to “keep up with Sharmas/Gowdas/Gouds/Iyers/Iyengars” and a whole host of people that never existed when your dad was your age!!! Your dad. Bharath Ramakrishna, didn’t have to worry about the latest cell phones, the latest cars, motor-bikes and other technology that didn’t exist earlier. Your mom, Bharathi, is probably the last person to understand your life, after all her whole life has been revolving around taking care of your dad, your siblings and you; she didn’t have the time to keep up with times!! Old out of touch people, your dad and mom.
Mom was always the one telling you to go to the temple and pray to that Monkey God for help where one could be cool and go to the church and pray to Jesus Christ! How cool was that!! Going to the Raghavendra Swamy Temple rather than the Brigade Road on Sundays! Really? What kind of a choice was that? Brigade Road where one could hang out with friends at the most stylish pubs, drinking the latest IPAs, Lagers and other international beers, while talking about the possibilities of the Dallas Cowboys winning a championship again (after nearly 27 years). Who cares that you wouldn’t know the difference between Dallas and San Antonio, or where San Antonio was! It sounded cool to talk about these things rather than head out to the temple to ask a god to help you attain peace of mind; peace of mind was easy to achieve with the latest hiphop tracks and a few hits of a joint!!! Parents wanting to keep a track of what you’re upto!! When are they going to realize you’re an adult that wants to enjoy life in a way your parents never did???
What you probably don’t know is that your parents were not always like this!! They were young too, at one point in time! They had dreams that were, like yours, important to them. Your dad wanted to be an engineer, a cricketer, a doctor but had to give up those dreams to be able to support a family that depended on every members’ contribution. He couldn’t even think of entering college as that would mean one less income. At an early age, he learned what you probably will never understand in your life: The paycheck was so important that he kept his mouth shut when insulted and called names! He had to be subservient! All he could think of was the family, you and your siblings who, he hoped, would have a better life than he did. Your mom, wanted to go to college too, but that was impossible. After all, going to college meant not getting married; who’d want to marry someone who was more educated than the boy??? So, it came to be that your parents, yep, the very same parents that you call old and out-of-touch with reality, had only you and your siblings as moments of joy in their lives!! You’re doing them proud, every day at the bar when you throw up after having way to much to drink, or waking up in someone’s backyard having smoked more joints than you can remember!!! Way to go, Hindu Youth!
Your friends wanted to go and have some mutton biriyani at Ali’s Biryani. Wow! The mutton biryani is out of the world, and yet, your mom and dad are Brahmins!! Can you believe this?? Brahmins who listen to the pony-tailed priest telling them to get YOUR string ceremony done soon? Why? You’re cool now, get that done and you’ll be socially ostracized. That’s the end of your world! The parties, the girls, the never-ending beer on Sundays!!! All because some weirdo priest tells you to get this done!! No Way in Hell were you, AJ (you shortened your name to sound cool, not the weird Ajai that your parents wanted for you!!) going to get that done!! Who could keep last names that were so uncool like Ramakrishna?? It sounded like the person was indecisive, did he want Rama or did he prefer Krishna?? You chose to be AJ plain and simple, although the college asked for it as did the Motor Vehicle Bureau. The two places which constantly reminded you of your background.
Pluralism sounded so cool; it meant you wouldn’t have to offend any of your Christian and Muslim friends, you could even eat at their houses and could laugh at the jokes made at the gods and goddesses that you were asked to pray to!!! You didn’t have to identify yourself as a brahmin, but could identify yourself as an agnostic. The jokes about the priests sounded weird, but you laughed, as you didn’t want others to think you belonged to a conservative background; so on Sundays, you chose to go to Church with your Christian friends (your muslim friends dropped out but they were so not cool), and on Fridays, you went with your muslim friends to their house, ate whatever was cooked; you were not sure why there was a restriction on beef as it tasted so delicious with naans bought at the Pilot’s Hotel; you couldn’t tolerate the jokes at the expense of the poor cook (when was the last time he took a bath, they asked).
Today, when your brother called and told you about your father’s death (apparently he was ill for a long time but no one told you), you wondered why they would not divulge the information earlier. Your brother told you that he had sent you a text! You raged about this being sent as a text, only to cower when the family asked you when they could talk to you as you were always busy with your friends. You tried to make excuses but nothing worked. You also just realized that your brother was engaged to the priest’s daughter; again, they claimed they’d told you. You thought about it till you realized it was at the Raghavendra Swamy Temple and you were not going to step in there!!! You congratulated your brother and asked him if he wanted to celebrate at the local pub! He politely shook his head and went back to helping the priest complete the painful ceremonies following the death of your dad. Your mother looked like she had aged 20 years. You said so to your sister, till she replied, “No, she’s always looked like this”! Really?
What was going on? Was your eyesight giving way, or was it that you didn’t pay attention to your family members! Who’s baby did your sister have in her hands? Are you kidding me? She had a baby but you didn’t know!!! Wait, don’t ask otherwise you’ll find out they’d told you but you had something cool to do. You nonchalantly ask her “what’s the birth date” and she tells you. You look at your phone to figure out where you were that day and, oh yeah, that was the day when you had to go along with Jack (Zakeer) to help him unload some meat (he had promised, his mom would make some special biriyani and she had..beef biryani to die for!). You’d decided to go immediately after eating but his mother finished cooking late in the night and by the time you got back home, it was 1 AM. You remember thinking why’s no one at home. Next morning you woke up to find no one at home except your mom and dad. That was the last time you’d seen your dad.
Two years after your dad passed away, you were there to witness your mother leaving you! You didn’t know what to do but it was now too late! You couldn’t apologize to your parents, you now appreciated their toil but..
You were now on your own. Your brother was happily married, with his own family while the friends you had, had long since abandoned you! You did manage to fall in love with a girl from another community and, since you couldn’t help yourself, she ended up pregnant. You had to marry her, because of pressure from her family. During the marriage, you had to change your name to suit their community! You couldn’t even call your brother and his family to the wedding! That day, your whole life changed as you were now socially ostracized! You had to quietly leave your surroundings, and moVe in with your new family! You couldn’t even take an old photograph of what your actual family looked like!
With nowhere to go, you looked for a job! You were hired at the same restaurant that you used to frequent in your younger days!
Today, some 22 years after your dad passed away, you are a dad. You have a 20 year old son who is insolent, will not listen to you and hangs out with friends that you don’t approve of. You ask him to come home and eat at home, but he chooses to eat out nearly every day. You and your wife wonder why your son will not listen to you, and your wife cries, “I don’t know who I offended to have to endure this” and all this sounds familiar. Eerily familiar! D’eja Vu?
जय श्रीराम। जय सीयाराम। उत्तिष्ठ भारत। जय माँ भारती
God Bless the USA.