Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ye of little faith

My help at home is a devout Muslim woman. That her faith is tested almost everyday is another story. A husband who is forever drunk (he is aware that it is a no no by his faith)and quarrelsome, who beats her for no reason. Straight from the movies.. a wicked mom in law, bitchy sister in law..with no fairy tale ending in sight. But this post is not about her trials and travails. It is not about the mundane.

She has an aesthetic outlook and very often uses her own discretion in the placement of plants and small artifacts as she dusts and cleans my home. Mostly, she does a decent job and on the occasions that she does not, I let it be for a day or two before making the change unobtrusively. The other day, I noticed a very small shell on one of the shelves. Surprised to find  a lone shell I was about to return it to the bowl  along with its companions, when she saw me handling the shell and remarked "Woh shankh maine Shivji ke paas rakkha hai."   Mystified, I looked around  and among all the aartifacts, saw a small statue  of Shiva with Nandi, just next to the little conch. She had kept the little shell because she assumed that it was auspicious next to the statue. She had found the it while sifting through some unwanted stuff. I was surprised that she knew about the conch and found the appropriate deity, something that many devout Hindus may  have missed.

 Relegion is often practised within very rigid parameters, ad seems to depend on its participants to follow precise instructions like fasting in exacting ways,  lighting  the right number of lamps, the right pictures, the most beautiful accessories that money can buy Acts of faith, I think we can all say,' been there done that'. But this was more than just an act of faith. Being born and brought up in India, I am sure we imbibe so many things that we do not even recognise to be from a 'different' faith from which we are born into. I visited church so many times as I went to a catholic school, i can hum some of the hymns.I have seen Muslims bow their heads while wlaking past temples, Hindus visit gurudwaras, Christians fight to visit temples ( Yesudas wanted to visit the Ayyappa temple).. ..

 If only we could recognise this devotion which is probably the most heartfelt form of faith,  "Ayodha", "Babri" and "Godhra" would not be in inverted comas, they would not be words said warily.  She may be illiterate, and uneducated, but my help knows what faith is all about!! I wish the custodians of faith did too.
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