There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Name is Khan

By Malini Banerjee
Bombay, India


I remember my dida telling me how they’d been driven out of their Borishal home by the Khan sena. She would spend lazy afternoons narrating ghastly tales of the merciless treatment meted out to them, and I would gasp and shudder (at the same time, mind you) in shock and horror (yes, both). I was about 9 then. I didn’t know a lot of Muslims then. In school, I had a pretty classmate, Saman Ahsan. And, she could well have been my best friend had it not been for that poop of a birthday party that I’d decided to have that year. My mother had organized a simple lunch affair for about 8 of us. Saman was the last to arrive. Her brother had come to drop her off, and while exchanging pleasantries with my father, he let it slip that his was a family of butchers. Actually, Saman’s father owned a chain of meat shops across Dehradun, but who cared? The Devil was found; the details, forgotten.
Saman was never invited to my place again. Ma started bringing my lunch to school, every day, and I could no longer share her deliciously aromatic dabba- the fragrant, long basmati grains, the succulent mutton boti, the spicy bheja. We moved to Delhi in couple of years. Saman, and her yummy dabba were soon forgotten.


The first time I felt the Hindu-Muslim divide was when I was few years shy of 20. I had just met Tasneem, the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. It was my first day in Junior College, and she and I had gotten along like a house on fire! I couldn’t wait to tell Ma about her, and when I did, she looked suspicious. I didn’t realize then that she was as imaginative as I was, if not more. She imagined every Muslim in Bombay to have links with the Underworld, Dawood Ibrahim, to be specific. But, when she met Tasneem, she fell in love with her innocence, just like I had. During that one year that I spent with her, she would tell me, sporadically, about the kind of discrimination that Muslims still had to face- nobody wanted to rent houses to them, school admissions were, often, a nightmare, jobs were difficult to get. But, she had been spared such problems. She didn’t have anything much to complain about, so we let it be. I was just amazed to hear the other side of the story, to get a perspective from the other side of the fence.


I wouldn’t be ranting about this unnecessary evil had it not been for a wonderful person that I met few years back. And, it was love at first sight. His religion didn’t matter to me, and vice versa. But, for my Brahmin parents it was a bit much to digest. Their only child was determined to marry a Muslim. Some say, “It’s not their fault, really. They are not conditioned in a way to be able to easily accept change”. Some, seemingly liberal erudite friends of mine said, “It’s one thing to date a Muslim, and an altogether different thing to decide to marry one”. That such double standards still exist in our society amazed me. Anyway, we’ve decided to go ahead, and get married. And, it is sad to not have our respective families by our side on this happy occasion. But, no amount of persuasion, discussion has helped. My parents have, perhaps, already imagined me as a burqa-clad, beef-eating, namazi Begum with 6 kids called Anwar, Ahsan, Neda, Sufiyaan, Raeeda, and Riaz!


Just the other day my dida, expressing her disbelief and shock at my decision said, “All Hindu girls that marry Muslim boys should be stoned to death. And, all Muslims should either be burned alive, or sent to Pakistan”. I laughed. When I shared this with my fiancé, he looked little shaken, and in a low voice said, “What have I done? I wasn’t the one who drove her out of her home, was I?”  Just some time back I’d read in the papers that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Maharashtra Police has been given orders to probe into alleged Hindu – Muslim marriages taking place in the rural areas. Apparently, the probe was initiated in response to pressure from two BJP MLAs Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Khadse who raised this issue in the legislative assembly. The MLAs alleged that there were a lot of love affairs happening between Muslim boys and Hindu girls that resulted in marriages between the couples. They said that these marriages were part of a larger conspiracy on the side of the Muslim community, and many of these young Hindu brides were even shipped to the gulf regions.


All this is happening without a single complaint from a harassed or affected Hindu bride. Why this hullabaloo about marriages between two different communities? After all isn’t this what our Netas and Babus have been harping about? Don’t we all want an India that is truly without any religious and caste differences, an India that is truly egalitarian and equal? And what better way to achieve this than by marriages between different fabrics of the Indian society? Or is this an ISI plot from across the border and is the Pakistan intelligence agency sending well-trained, Hrithik Roshan look-alikes to woo and marry Hindu brides? Food for thought!


Nothing can stop me from following my heart. It won’t be long before I say it, like SRK- My name is Khan. Malini Banerjee Khan. And, I am proud of my name. Mine is a simple tale that doesn’t involve the WTC towers, AK-47s, or Bollywood glamour. It’s about a couple in love. Simple, isn’t it? 

31 comments:

  1. Please take the trouble to study Islam first before writing, crap based on ur imaginations....
    Figment of Imagination only works in films and story books....

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  2. Shikha BhattacharyaNovember 1, 2009 at 9:22 AM

    My good wishes to Malini in her quest for a barrier free expression of love, we hope to grow out of stigmas dictating relationships in this world. However, having said that, I wish to add here, though it is easy to laugh at elders with a particular mindset it is important to understand that their vission is coloured for a reason which stems out of heart wrenching bitter experiences, which for us are movies and documentaries. It is one thing to hear stories and entirely another to live it. We have led a sheltered and protected life and will thus never be able to feel their pain.....

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  3. Dear SumanSpeaks,

    This is my life that I've written about, not some random, imaginary idea. Also, I don't believe in religion. I worship Nature. I don't understand religion, and the fences imposed by it. Hence, I never discuss it.

    Thanks, for finding the time to read, and commenting, as well, considering it's just "crap based on my imagination". It's got to be some good crap then :)

    Cheers



    Dear Shikha,

    Thanks :)
    And yes, you are right. Every thing has a reason. And, who am I to decide if they are right or wrong? But, I do have the right to decide what is right for me. If by doing so, I am touching upon a wrong chord somewhere, heck, it's not my problem. I don't understand religion, terrorism, etc. These are big words. I have heard of peace, and I know what love is. If I give in to my parents' wishes and agree to not marry my Muslim fiance, will that lessen my Dida's pain? I guess not. Am I willing to suffer, hurt myself because of something that happened LONG back, and is of no consequence to my future? Call me selfish, if you will. But, I will stick to my guns.

    Keep reading, and writing in :)

    Cheers

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  4. Malini,

    It is simple yet amazing.Because it is real.We can have endless debates about what is right and what is wrong but i guess going with what your gutt says sounds about right!
    Personally, religion does not make much sense to me these days, i feel it divides rather than unites.

    cheers

    jayeeta

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  5. Dear Sumanspeak,

    I thought Malini's article was a pure reflection of her life that she has chosen to lead. She neither has to seek permisssion nor justify the same. I carefully read the article the second time to find the "Crap" but could not find any. May be you need to clean the crap of pre-conceived notions about writing anything regarding islam or any other religion for that mattrer. Criticize by all means but please keep the crap out of it so as not to vitiate the atmosphere in this wonderful platform created by intellectually inclined people.

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  6. I agree with Tapan. Malini's story is her own. Nobody needs to give her a green signal on what she must do. It's her choice and as mature creative persons, we must respect individual choices. If Sumanspeak doesn't like it, he is free to choose his way. Ms Banerjee doesn't need your permission to marry a man of her choice. And please do not write such personal hateful messages on a blogspace created for a different purpose. Growl in your own yard if you want to!

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  7. A general comment. Please take if for what it's worth.

    First of Ms Banerjee has every right to decide what she wants to do with her life. And I am sure the person she is in love with is a very nice human being who will make her happy. And I am sure he would not interfere or decide which religion Ms Banerjee would want to follow, since she is proud that her surname would be Bannerjee Khan.

    However, having said that, I would suggest that she should not look at the problem with rose tinted glasses and let her own feelings color her judgment. In short she should not think that her experience is the standard norm.

    I note from her writing that her family has expressed their unhappiness at her choice but have not gone out of their way to physically prevent her from exercising her right to marry the person of her choice. And it should be so.

    However, let us do a small thought experiment here.

    Suppose she was from a typical Muslim family (just as she in real life is from a typical Hindu family) and her fiance was Hindu.

    Now I wonder if Ms Banerjee can put her hand on her heart and say that the same would have occurred? In that her family would have just expressed their disappointment but would have allowed her to follow her heart?

    I know this is a difficult and perhaps unfair question. But it needs to be asked because she is generalizing. Most Muslim families would not take such marriages very kindly and we should recognize this problem, unfortunate though it is.

    In many Muslim countries such marriages are by law illegal. Meaning a non Muslim in order to marry a Muslim would have to convert.

    So coming back to the point I want to make, I would love a world without religious and caste differences. But it is a two way street and blaming our Netas don't get us anywhere.

    Can Ms Banerjee say with confidence that it is indeed a two-way street? Why should all change of attitude and broadmindedness need to be shown only by people like her deeply religious Brahmin family?

    Isn't that a valid question?

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  8. Dear Anonymous,

    I'd like to clarify something. I wasn't talking about only Hindus and Muslims. By generalising, I was referring to all those who wish to live their lives in a certain manner, but cannot, due to this whole brouhaha about religion. That I belong to a Hindu family, and my man to a Muslim, is pure chance. He could've been Jewish, and I Sikh. It's about acceptance and tolerance. And, it applies to EVERYBODY. (My family is not deeply religious, by the way. Partition scarred them). Every thinking individual has the right to live her/his life the way she/he chooses to.

    If you've noticed, I haven't tried to go beyond the realm of my reality. Because, I am not qualified enough to do so. I would never dare to pass any sort of 'generalised' statement. I am not so audacious. And, I am not here to solve any problem. I am merely trying to find peace in my chosen path.

    Coming to your question, dear Anonymous, MOST Muslim girls are not allowed to step out of the house. In upper middle class households, they go out ONLY for academic reasons. And, this I can say with some authority as I happen to have a lot of Muslim friends. Lest you think me to be a Hindu-hater, and Muslim lover, I have a colorful bunch of friends- Jew, Sindhi, Jain, Sikh, Catholic/Protestant, Parsi, Buddhist, Parsi :)
    Also, Muslim-Non-Muslim marriages ARE illegal. Conversion is NECESSARY for the Nikaah. Just so you know :)
    I have a question for you. Why are ONLY Hindu-Muslim marriages under the scanner? All Muslims are NOT terrorists. Why must we generalise?

    Lastly, I am not blaming anybody but ourselves. We are responsible for our actions.

    Keep reading. And, thanks SO MUCH for writing in :)

    Cheers

    PS: Kindly reveal your indentity. Anonymity is mysterious but, difficult to trust.

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  9. Dear Malini, It was a wondeful read. i support your courageous decision,courageous in the sense standing upto your parennts and your family's pre conceived notions about religions and castes etc.but i also agree with anonymous,if u had been in a muslim family, the decision would have been much toughter,ofcourse if u belonged to an upper class family in UP or MP or Rajasthan, it would have been no different as being that from the Muslim household.when it comes to religion we are surprisingly bigot.Hope u have a very happy married life.We need more braveherats like you...i salute your love :)

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  10. Dear Malini,

    Thank you so much for your response. I'm sorry but I prefer (for now) the cloak of anonymity, even though you would have found the nonsense that I write more trustworthy if it came with an X, Y or Z name tag.

    You say you have not generalised. I take your word for it. But I'm sure you can forgive me and others if they think/thought you are indeed generalising with that frivolous comment about some alleged move to check Hindu girls marrying Muslim boys in Maharashtra with the mandatory reference to the BJP and what our Netas should do or not do.

    You ask a question in your response:

    All Muslims are NOT terrorists. Why must we generalise?

    It pains me to say this but unfortunately this is a classic Straw man used in such discussions and a manifestation of Victimhood.

    Where has anyone said that all Muslims are terrorists and what does that have to do with the fact that you are proud that your surname will soon be Bannerjee Khan? I have Muslim friends who identify with India and Indian culture more strongly than I do. And I'm sure everyone else has the same experience.

    You must understand that ONLY Hindu-Muslim marriages come under the scanner because of some very particular reasons. I'll come to that. But before that if your fiancé had been a Sikh, Christian, Jain or Buddhists then all this discussion would not even arisen. In fact, I dare say, you wouldn't have even felt the necessity of writing this wonderful piece and we readers would have been deprived the pleasure of reading it.

    The reason why Hindu-Muslim marriage is under the scanner is very simple and you yourself have answered that in your response as I had hoped you would.
    Why is it that YOU have to change YOUR religion in order to go through the traditional Nikha ceremony? I mean you could have gone for a civil marriage where all that would not be necessary.

    Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not questioning your right change your religion. What I am trying to say the crux of the problem lies precisely in this NEED to change YOUR religion.

    Why for example doesn't your finance need to change HIS religion (and become a Hindu) in order to marry you? Is it because if he does that he would be accused of committing Apostasy? Or is it because HE does NOT want to change his religion for the sake of LOVE?

    Apostasy is punishable by death in many countries like Pakistan. In India what it is likely to entail is ostracism from society. I know how that works. I have friend who married a Muslim girl. Even though she did not change her religion she has been totally cut off from her family and they have had to change their city of residence after receiving several threatening calls and generally being harassed. And do note they were not harassed by BJP-type Rightwing Hindu fundamentalists. Moreover she comes from a well-to-do middleclass family.

    I daresay this issue of conversion would not even arise if your fiancé had been a Sikh, Christian or any other religious denomination.


    Anyway please don't misunderstand me. I applaud you decision for the simple reason that I feel every human being has the right to make their own choices, however unpalatable it may be to others and society. And I wish you and your fiancé well.

    However, I am writing all this just to point out to you and the other gentle readers who read this blog, that the problem is far more complex than you assume it to be.

    Yes in an ideal world we should have a society where religion, caste and creed should be of no consequence. But in that ideal world you wouldn't have had to change your religion in order to ensure that your marriage is not declared illegal.

    Thus, let's not criticise the usual suspects like our Netas for the problems of society of which we, including your fiancé and his family, are members of and responsible for. If we don’t identify the problem, we will never solve it. And that calls for dispassionate thinking not clouded by personal sentiments.

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  11. Dear Malini,

    Just to add to my post above. You wrote:

    It's about acceptance and tolerance.

    Yes indeed it is about acceptance and tolerance. But this is a two-way street. When one side is determined not the change, then how can you blame the other side for being sceptical about intentions?

    Was your grandmother so wrong after all? Wouldn't her thoughts, as narrated by you, be precisely the same if she had been a Muslim and you were planning to marry a Hindu?

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  12. Have been thinking of your blog since yesterday night.... In India, parents do not just consider the boy or girl but the entire family. A girl has to accomodate not just a boy / adjust to not just to a boy but an entire family... thats why parents are so protective ..... They are not wrong for wanting the best (as per their viewpoint) for their children .... it is natural for a parent to be heart broken when their child chooses somebody she has known for twenty months over somebody she has known for twenty years... You are also not wrong to follow your heart .. for u see the boy for who he is ... While I wish you happiness in all the years ahead, I can't help thinking that it is easy for us to applaud you from the sides but it will be your husband and u alone who will have to tread this difficult road ...Anyway, getting married is getting a best friend for life -- congratulations and celebrations....

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  13. Dear Malini,

    I won't even bother to read the other comments but tell you only this much, my first love was and remains a wonderful Muslim man who I didn't have the guts to marry but I respect I have for him is hard for me to describe. He was one the most special things that happened in my life and even after 20 years we remain the best of silent friends. He says a dua for me every day and I Had the privilige of him praying for me at the Kaaba.. I grew up in a muslim country and had the best of friends and family friends..one of my closest friends till date remains a lovely woman called Lubna I met thru the Internet.. we maybe of different faiths but we share the same soul.

    I find it pathetic to even get into politics and social drama when it comes to faith and religion.. am a disciple of Swami Ranganathananda and books and pics of Sri Sri Thakur and Swamiji adorn my home.. am no where close to their ideals maybe.. but I believe in the universal divinity of man and that it transcends faith, religion, gender, etc...

    Live your life with your head and heart and they will always answer to your conscience.. Whether you are Khan or Khan Bhaduri, which is incidentally the maiden name of the HINDU woman who started this site.. at the end of they you are both beautiful accomplished intelligent women and more importantly good human beings.. and in the long run.. that is all that matters and should matter.. to the rest of the janta with their high and mighty lofty ideals and ideaolgoies.. let me share one anecdote.. my dad was stuck in the 1990 war in Kuwait.. there were people who were all trying to get out.. Dad worked with a govt firm and we lived in a very posh end of the city.. One evening in the middle of the curfew one of the cleaners at Dad's office, a bangladeshi man called Hamid.. managed to walk over 10 miles to sneak into our building and cautiously ring the bell.. dad was very surprised to see him and he was trying to pack whatever he could to leave with the Indian evacuation flights.. His first instinct was that Hamid had probably come for some financial help and he readily offered whatever dinars he had with him..

    Hamid looked up at Dad and said " Na Babu, aapney ota raakhen aar eitao rakhen ( giving dad his lifetime earning in Kuwait of a few 100 dinars ) and said.. Shaheb, aapne deshey phira jaan.. amago to aar jawa hoibo na, ami bhabhlam, aapney hoyto bank ey jaaitey paarben naa, taai eita ditey aaisilam.. Boudi rey salam koiben aar shona aar bhai rey bhalo basha diben.."
    ( translated.. Sir take whatever I have and leave, we may not be able to make it but you can and please do, give my regards to Madam and love to the kids )

    Dad stood tears streaming down his face, just as mine still do whenever I recall this...that was a a MUSLIM too.. more importantly he was an amazing spirit.. no one knows what happened to Hamid bhai.. but till date we pray and wish him well...

    So don';t listen to crap Malini.. I lived in a Muslim country.. my grandparents too were driven out of Kumilla but when they went back it was a Muslim family who helped him recover his stuff.. when my dad returned.. it was Aisha Aapa ( a bangladeshi cleaning woman ) who had gathered all the pictures strewn in our apt after the palestinians raided our homes after dad left. Aisha aapa gave the pics to dad and said.. "ei guli bachaitey paarsilam shaheb.." ( was able to recover these pictures sir.. )

    Need I say more.. I think not..

    Rgds

    Pritha

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  14. It's interesting that contarian viewpoints are thought to be CRAP. I suppose that's a sign of an open mind. :-)

    Anyway sorry to everybody for having spoiled the party.

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  15. Dear Anon,

    I'll say it again. We are responsible for our actions. Who am I to pin the blame on a second person? Our Netas are one of us. And, they too, like us, are responsible for their actions. They are our leaders. (almost)Everything they do, has a trickle-down effect. They should lead by example. Name one Muslim leader who has asked for a probe into Hindu-Muslim alliances?

    Also, let's not turn this into a who-takes-the-initiative-to-extend-an-olive-branch debate. When I was writing this, I did not have some Hindu vs Muslim scenario in mind. I don't want others to decide what is right/wrong for me. By others I mean, society, community, etc etc.

    I am not assuming anything. I am a simple person. My problems are specific to my life. You would be, I'm sure, in a better position to talk about the "problem" you've been referring to. My lack of awareness and knowledge about matters of national and societal importance leaves me handicapped :). I can ONLY talk about my experiences. I like bridging gaps. It doesn't matter who takes the first step :)

    Let's shed our holier-than-thou attitude!

    Cheers :)

    PS: I am not converting, FYI. I was just trying to tell you that Muslims, in EVERY (not MOST) countries treat inter-community marriages as haraam.



    Dear Shilpi,

    Thanks, for the wishes. I am sure my sister, if I had one, would've said the same thing.
    :):)

    Cheers


    Dear Pritha,

    I am so glad you found time to scribble here. It's been real comforting to read your comment. Some day I'd like to see you :)

    Warm regards
    M


    Also, dear Anon, you didn't spoil no party. You've just taken this write-up onto a different tangent. That's all :)

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  16. Somehow,anonymous, i so totally agree with u,atleast for most parts,when u said why,if it was so trivial cant a man change his religion and become wat his consort belongs to,and several other places where i felt i concurred with ur thinking.
    While our writer here,is as right as she cd be,yet to me being a bengali kuleen brahmin girl is like a wealth i have inherited, by dint of birth.Just like we used to joke in school days,a marwari wd never give up on his wealth,i should think 'we' should covet wat we have,as a brahmin,as dearly.But beleive me,thats just me.
    Maybe i have never been touched by true love,but so be it.
    Malini,the spirit that u have today would definitelt last a lifetime and maybe u wd explore a wider horizon which my eyes would never perceive,yet to me,that THE NAME YOU HOLD TODAY(??)wd be your IDENTITY.The name which has enabled u to think so beautifully and transcend religion,is the BANERJEE,part.
    I repeat this is just my innermost conviction on not only my religion but my caste as well.If religion was created by man,so be it,who says am divine/celestial??
    If i were to walk into an institution where tomorrow i would mother little offsprings why can it not be in my own community my own caste...and i would have found love there.
    AGAIN,I REPEAT I HAVE NEVER BEEN TOUCHED BY LOVE...AND ITS MAGIC...

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  17. Dear Malini,

    I have always believed that discussion and debate, helps a person to crystallize her thoughts and get a better understanding of both themselves and the world around us. And to that extent I think this debate has certainly achieved some of that. I have better understood you viewpoint and I think you have also shown a flexibility in your beliefs.

    In your last post you wrote:

    I am not assuming anything. I am a simple person. My problems are specific to my life.

    I think that is an extremely honest and reasonable position to take and I applaud you for it.

    However, pardon me if I point that this is a far cry from what you wrote in your second and third last paragraphs, the reason why I posted my comments in the first place.

    Just to recap:

    Just some time back I’d read in the papers that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Maharashtra Police has been given orders to probe into alleged Hindu – Muslim marriages taking place in the rural areas. Apparently, the probe was initiated in response to pressure from two BJP MLAs Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Khadse who raised this issue in the legislative assembly. The MLAs alleged that there were a lot of love affairs happening between Muslim boys and Hindu girls that resulted in marriages between the couples. They said that these marriages were part of a larger conspiracy on the side of the Muslim community, and many of these young Hindu brides were even shipped to the gulf regions.

    All this is happening without a single complaint from a harassed or affected Hindu bride. Why this hullabaloo about marriages between two different communities? After all isn’t this what our Netas and Babus have been harping about? Don’t we all want an India that is truly without any religious and caste differences, an India that is truly egalitarian and equal? And what better way to achieve this than by marriages between different fabrics of the Indian society? Or is this an ISI plot from across the border and is the Pakistan intelligence agency sending well-trained, Hrithik Roshan look-alikes to woo and marry Hindu brides? Food for thought!


    You see in my eyes this was gross generalising and just as much stereotype typecasting as the type you so much oppose regarding all Muslims as terrorists. As a journalist, I’m sure you deal with facts. And so do you know for sure there has not been a SINGLE complaint?

    Do note that I don’t think a Muslim man marrying a Hindu woman as bad, because ultimately marriage is a holy bond between two humans and religion should have nothing to do with.

    And just as the fact that Hindu goons went on the rampage in Gujarat doesn’t mean every Hindu is a bloodthirsty fundamentalist, similarly just because a Muslim opens fire on innocent people does not make every Muslim a terrorist or fundamentalist.

    However, to come back to the point about an ideal world where religion, caste and creed remains a personal thing and does not influence human interaction, it can only be achieved if all sides want it to be so.

    You yourself have talked about the plight of an average Muslim girl.

    Surely your family, liberal social background and above all religious tolerance that you have grown up in has allowed you to go out and meet the person of your dreams? And if you had been a Muslim girl wouldn’t it be very unlikely that you would have gone out and met a Hindu man of your dreams and HAD the courage to go against your family and marry him?

    So I would request you to bask in the glory of finding true love, it’s a precious thing that not all are able to achieve.

    But please don’t question the value system, which allowed you to find Love in the first place. Many girls and boys who come from different value systems are not so lucky as you are.

    What you dida said may be anathema to you but despite that the lady has had a considerable hand in making the environment which allows you to ignore her words/wishes and go with your heart.

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  18. Dear Videshini,

    I am what I am because of what I do, not because of my name. My name doesn't define me, my actions do. Is Barrack Obama is who he is today because of that mysterious, Islamic sounding surname? I think not. I am proud of my family name, for sure. And, adding a Muslim surname won't diminish it. It's like taking any other surname on. Though Banerjee Roy, or Banerjee Sharma, I am sure, would be lot more palatable to most of us :)

    Thanks for writing in. Cheers.


    Dear Anon,

    Let's assume there was a complaint or two. That does NOT mean ALL such marriages must be probed. There are Hindus who are involved in shipping unsuspecting girls to the Gulf. Investigate such cases. Probe anything that is fishy. Why put all such marriages under the scanner? Isn't that generalising? Just because one (or, few) cases of such nature has been reported does NOT mean all of my kind are going to be given up to the sheikhs! I do not wish to go through the trauma of a police investigation just because I am marrying a Muslim!

    Values have got nothing to do with mindset. You're mistaken, if you think I am questioning the value system I come from. My parents and I belong to the same, but we think differently. That's because we have different mindsets. The values are the same, mind you :)

    Also, I am not ignoring anybody's wishes. It doesn't quite sound right. I am doing what is best for me.

    Cheers.

    PS: THIS IS THE LAST TIME I AM GOING TO CLARIFY. I AM NOT CONVERTING. It's unnecessary. Btw, I know of men who have converted in order to marry the woman they loved :)

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  19. Obama is wat he is,for the sruggle his single mother and life had thrown at him,and how he perceived and handled those challenges.And let me tell u he is not very comfortable wherever he is,Bush on the other hand went quite unspeculated,but Obama with all the ammendments he makes/tries,is too criticised....and yeah it is partial racism.

    A surname is not a mere BARTER/ADD-ON!!then there wd be no relevance of it,it is an identity to a culture/background one has been exposed to since birth.It shocking to see one thinks so trifle of an entire surname whr the whole world prioretises it,not for 'demographic info' but only to understand an individual's roots better.
    And as i said,i am not above religion/caste,yes i live in this world,and is definitely a part of all the systems that belong here.My past has taught me to love/covet/respect/and vociferously protect my 'surname',and pass that over to future generation ,as much as God wd allow.Rather they wd allow.

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  20. Dear Malini,

    I fail to see how your marraige can be "probed". I don't think you live in the "rural" areas or come from a downtrodden family which can be "exploited".

    I'm sorry but I think a tangential reference to this point in an otherwise splendid "Love Story" seems be jarring to me.

    And yes it was never about you converting or your fiance converting. It's about generalizing and in some respects demonizing a general resistance in Hindu society to a girl marrying a Muslim. A lot of that has a historical perspective. Of course I'm not saying that makes it justifiable.

    However, just because it's not right does not mean it must be either demonized or made fun of. There's an even greater resistance on the other side. That's all I am trying to say.

    I'm sorry to say but I would have found this story even more wonderful if you had not brought these extraneous explanations that your marriage would be probed because they are "allegedly" probing some marriages happening in rural Maharastra in which disadvantaged sections of society are involved.

    Anyway let's just agree to disagree on this. As I've said several times I wish you and your fiance well and hope you have long, happy and wonderful married life.

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  21. Dear Malini,

    It is very interesting to read so many viewpoints on this issue , and no contrary viewpoints are not CRAP, but I doubt how many people on this page have experienced, war, the aftermath, the support given by the govt back home or the lack there of, whether it was gaining admission in a school here for war victims.. so won't go into those. I have a very different view on this issue mainly because I have lived these words and not read them or seen them on TV or thru second hand experiences.. I hope that came thru. Something has to be personal to me to pass an attitude.. am probably the most non judgmental person you will ever meet in your life and so lofty statements irk me, only coz it is only when you wear the shoe, that you know exactly where it pinches.

    In the core of our Hindu philosophy and faith lies the immortality of the soul and that it is devoid of name, caste, religion, etc etc.. but reality of the society is that we are given labels that society holds us accountable to. And Who is Society? Us at the end of the day, right?

    You are who you are girl, irrespective of your name and religion, if you believe in yourself, your conscience and your heart, you don't need a debate like this to either broaden or change your perspective. Somethings are about conviction and personal values.. and those are not subject to debate because they are at the core of who you are and u don't owe and explanation to anyone... So sweetheart, for the last time, stop clarifying whether you are converting or not.. it is no one's freaking business but your own, and no one is qualified to pass any kind of judgment or statement on it except the people who matter in your life, not a bunch of people like us who spend or time moralizing on the internet :)

    Rgds

    Pritha

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  22. Dear Pritha,

    I totally agree with your last paragraph. Ultimately it is no one's freaking business other than Malini's.

    And that is why I object to all this references to what may or may not be happening in rural Maharasthra, the typecasting of "Righwing Hindu Fundamentalist" BJP etc.

    I personally abhor the politics of BJP but that doesn't mean that I should demonize them. There are millions of people - good people - who believe in the brand of Hinduism they preach.

    The point is, in my humble view, Malini's wonderful Love Story is somehow "diminished" with these extraneous references. The references to her family I could understand and emphasize with but not this, I'm sorry to say. It sounds too much of a cliché.

    And incidentally you used the word "Crap" not me! But no matter it is good see flexibility! :-)

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  23. Wow. Wow. Wow. Whatte fun!

    Dear Anon,

    We seem to have 'resolved' all our differences apart from my 'cliched' example. You know, we all know how the system works. What's starting off as, perhaps, a rural 'experiment' might just make guinea pigs out of us city-dwellers. Let's not pretend that we live in some far-away land, and are untouched by rural occurences. It's not about the region. It could be rural Maharshtra, or urban Uttar Pradesh. It's about the 'sick' mentality, and zero tolerance.

    Cheers.



    Dear Pritha,
    Point noted. No more clarifications :D

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  24. Thanks Anon for clarifying on "crap" appreciate the attention you gave to my ramblings..

    Take care Malini.. this was fun :)

    Rgds

    Pritha

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  25. Dear Malini,

    It’s good that you have finally clarified that there was indeed a political message buried in your love story.

    Stupid me, I should have realized that a long time ago!

    You even left behind clues, like in one of your comments you suddenly said: “I’m not a Hindu baiter…” That one had left me wondering where it came from.

    Now I can understand the generalisation. It was not just about you and your Love Story! :-)

    Fair enough!

    By the way this part of your post caught my eye:

    It could be rural Maharashtra, or urban Uttar Pradesh. It's about the ‘sick’ mentality and zero tolerance.

    It is obvious you have zero tolerance for such Hindus with “sick” mentalities.

    This is again OK because that is your viewpoint and you are totally entitled to it.

    However, when I read it, I remembered something that I read a few days ago. Let me share:

    The word tolerate is not relevant any more, I feel. It’s just another way of saying, “I don’t approve of your religion/way of living/ whatever it may be, but I don’t have the balls to admit it”. It’s become a ‘safe’ option to label oneself as TOLERANT. I guess, acceptance could be a better way to go about things.

    I suspect the paragraph may seem familiar to you. In fact I would think that you know the author. In fact you may know her as well the author herself knows herself! :-)

    Let me finish with a small ramble: When I was in school my most favourite Shakespearean heroine was a beautiful lady named Portia. Oh how I adored her and she was a role-model for starry eyed me.

    One particular speech she made remains etched in my mind after I got to see the play being staged by some wonderful actors in England:

    If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.

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  26. That was an interesting story. No matter what and how broad-minded, whatever the society is, there is still a hue and cry about hindu-muslim marriages especially, thats a fact. Why is the "junta" per se is soooo concerned about somebody's else's life is a big question mark?! What has a common man to comment on a married couple is another question mark ?!
    At the same time, a community cannot be generalized and branded as good or bad. There are good apples among bad ones too. Trash the bad ones, and you still have the good ones all shining and bright in front of you.

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  27. @ Anon, haha. Hawk-eyed you are, huh? My bad. Fine. Acceptance, it shall be, and not tolerance. You think people are game? I think not. I don't think the situation/equation/ whatever changes much.

    My favourite is Rosalind :)

    PS: I've always believed debate to be a step towards widening perspective. I never thought of it as a forum to prove a point :)

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  28. Dear Malini,

    I'm not trying to score a point.

    All I've been trying to do is think in terms of acceptance.

    Accept that others have a different viewpoint with regards what the Hindu ethos is and then just go on with your life.

    There's no need to demonise these people - let them face the world the way they choose to. Just as you choose to face the world the way you want to.

    As you said earlier, not all Muslims are terrorists. Similarly, not all conservative Hindus are fundamentalist goons or people with "sick" mentalities.

    Is this so difficult to accept?

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  29. Malini,
    I felt sorry for your parents.Especially when you are their only child.
    But it is your life and your decision.
    Please do not rush in and you can try aganin with your parents.
    I have seen families disturbed when especially their only child is separated.
    Another thing is , may be you are a journalist
    but you know nothing about our secular politicians or so called secular english media.I want you to know some of these facts because these must be of concern to you more than to me.
    I guess you are from westbengal and read your dida telling you certain things.Don't worry they will again happen in westbengal and assam
    thanls to our stupid politicians.Some of the districts bordering assam and westbengal have already undergone demographic reversals.Many westbengali prominent people are highly concerned and you can just read these things from many websites.BJP is the only party which raises this issue and others simply shutup because they need minority votes.If you want to know website names i can give.
    You mantioned bollywood heroes.Any one with solid education and reasoning will never take their lives as examples to follow.Our media is stupid to ask bollywood personalities ( i add cricketers too)questions relating to our nation.I am no way communal ma'm and i graduated from iit kanpur.
    My e-mail id is rav0srinu@gmail.com

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  30. Malini and Others,

    Just a note that the above Anon is not me - the person who's heroine is Portia. :-)

    Of course I agree there's a political side to the issue. But that's a different story which we can discuss perhaps later. I don't see how that can affect your choices.

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  31. So called anom says this:

    What i said above has nothing to do with relevant one.And there is no political side to it.
    It is not a political issue and what i want to say is how naive we politically are.We use the words secularism and communal with out any regard to the national security and social fabric of our society.Especially the younger generation.They simply say they hate politics.Well they can hate politics but they can hardly ignore certain issues which are vital.

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