This, in fact, reminds me of an incident from my life.
We, the Hindu community of Indians, have a tradition of serving to all and sundry (read wanted and unwanted relatives) vegetarian food on the 11th day and non-vegetarian food on the 13th day, after someone passes away. I have never understood the reasoning behind it.
When I lost my first set of grandparents I was a tad too young to vehemently protest though and when the second set said their goodbyes my parents decided and my brains told me it would be best to stay quiet. After all, their loss was indeed greater than mine. So, if by following certain rituals, they felt better, then why should I be the one to stop it?
But things changed when I lost my father. This time I was the one wanting to treat people. Right from giving reasons like, “We should make an awesome menu for the day because dad will scold us if we do otherwise” to “Let’s treat everyone well because they came and stood by us during this time”. I don’t know what changed within me. It definitely was not because my questioning mind had gone into a slumber. But, it seemed as if a message was coming to me from afar. Right from above. Or, maybe not. Maybe it was a message straight from dad who was standing next to me and telling me this: “Do it not because people tell you, do it not for me, do it not because those who have come expect it, do it only for yourself. Do it because doing it will make you feel happy.” And yes it did especially when I saw those who were near to my family and me, and who genuinely loved my father finally putting a morsel into their mouth after they had managed to control their tears. It also did when I saw all those clumps of unwanted relatives feasting – happy that I had not lowered myself to their machinating ways. Yes, I had served them all with love and with a smile.
Was it a success? Yes, it was. Mum was calm because all rituals had been performed with the greatest reverence. Relatives were happy because they had all got what they had come for – each a different reason. Dad must have been happy to see the family holding their own. I was happy that my family and I had managed to get through such an occasion with a smile. Where the courage for that came from will yield an altogether different story though.
Had I won over people? Who knows. But I had been ‘Indian’ for sure. In fact, I had been #MoreIndianThanYouThink
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