Dear Aunty who lives down the street, I am glad to meet you after such a long time. In fact, I don’t remember seeing you around that much – not when my class graduated, or when my dad was envenomated by some viper, or when my mom needed someone to babysit or when my grandma would have liked someone to talk to, in the evenings. Don’t worry about it, she passed away in her sleep, a year ago. And we are all grown up now. And regarding the snake, my dad survived the phase. But today I see you in our dining room trying to “empathize with my grieving mother”. And I don’t understand how your empathizing includes bringing up stories of all my “happily married” cousins and neighbours. And you are sitting here “innocently” narrating stories of love marriages gone sore.
Yes, I found a guy on my own. But what difference does it make to you whether he is named Suleiman or Joseph or Narayan. And how you grieve now, saying that I cannot be laid to rest in our family’s burial vault because of this marriage. I would rather be burnt to ashes in a pyre, after living my life on my own terms, than care about being buried long after I am dead inside. And by the way, have you seen God?
Was it Him who was draped in white with a halo around His head, with a lamb hugged to his torso and one hand holding His staff? Was it Her shroud in red saree with blood dripping from her mouth, a Trishul in one hand and an assassinated man’s head in the other? Did you meet Him in the church down the street, or did you have to go to the temple behind our school to meet Him? I would rather bet, that you found God in the smile you gave that little boy, this morning. Or in that moment when you shared your umbrella with a stranger, during a downpour, although you were suited up in your best attire on the way to the office. Yes, you got drenched and you wouldn’t have liked it, but you gave selflessly. It was Her - when you helped that old lady to cross the street. It was Her - when you went out of the way to connect with that friend of yours.
And by the way, that boy was planning to jump off the roof that evening. And when you talked him out of it, he decided otherwise – now that at least someone cared.
And my dear cousin, as you are sitting here at the far end of the dining table, listening to all the drama, with terrified eyes, I hope you listen to your heart more than you listen to Chotu Uncle or Meettu Aunty. And if you were to fall out of love, do it for reasons right. Do it if he doesn’t treat you right. Do it if it’s more tears than smiles. Don’t do it because he is circumcised, and your brother is not. Don’t do it because it is easier to walk away than to stay back and fight. Because at the end of the day, aren’t we all just blood, flesh and bones?
And an unhappy heart kills faster than any of the diseases discovered till date.
We all make impressions on every single being that we come across – however small or insignificant the encounter may seem to be. And we are all remembered. Like how you remember that your ex liked his omelette scrambled and coffee strong. And that friend of yours who used to drink only lemon juice with salt. Imagine you remembering all this seemingly silly stuff, then think of how profoundly you would impact someone’s life with a blunt, misinformed statement.
Words burn. And even erasers can tear paper. So, think before you judge. Everyone is fighting their own battles.
And you don’t have to agree on everything, to be kind to each other. And I don’t care whether you wear a hijab or saffron as long as you are willing to share with me that part of your soul which is ridiculously dope.
As for me, I will survive – He is an amazing guy. And roads less travelled have never bothered me anyway.