Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The True Secular Indian

A few years back, a lady named China worked for me in the capacity of domestic help. When she joined I asked her why she was named after a country. Her answer was that when she was born, nobody wanted her so the name China (meaning "not wanted" in Bengali) stuck. She told me her real name as well but I can’t seem to remember it now.

China had this immense need in her to feel wanted and that showed up in her sphere of work as well. She used to pamper us with all kinds of good food and later she sought out the attention of my neighbors by preparing all sorts of delicacies for them - without my approval. Soon my monthly grocery supplies started to diminish at the speed of light. So I decided it was time for her to leave. She was politely given a one way ticket to Calcutta and asked not to return.

The lure of money is too hard to resist and apparently cooks are in short supply in Mumbai. She came back and has been living and working in the area I live for quite some time. My current domestic help is got to know her and off and on she tells me some bits of gossip about China. It seems that China has large debts; her room mates are tired of shouldering her expenses and were contemplating on marrying off the much married China to a truck driver with HIV and lots of money to clear the debts. How she is kicked out of almost every job she takes on as she is unable to work or be regular.

With such problems China could only turn to God for help. She converted to Christianity and Jesus provided her with some basic necessities. In return, she goes and prays to Jesus every Thursday regularly. For her debts, she turned to Allah during the holy month of Ramzan. She wore a veil and sat in front of a mosque where she received a sizeable amount of money donated by the various people who came to pray. She was able to repay her debts by the grace of Allah. To keep her often failing health in order, she wears an amulet and chain around her neck with the image of Goddess Kali and prays in the night.

That is what religion is to a person who is struggling with every day living and to think that people fight and kill in the name of religion...