Friday, December 19, 2008

The commercialisation of religion.

I looked at the little statuettes sitting comfortably perched on little shelves of an oriental shop in Oxrford and thought of Ravi and Chanda,two little hindu children of the maid who worked in my cousins house.Ravi with his forever runny little nose and broken sandals,trying to befreind my nephew to play his Game Boy games,this curse of the Japanese or smart technology?Imagining children bieng lured by moneyspending games-Nintendo,Gameboy,pound 100 for a toy and all of Ravi"s dreams,his runny nose,his broken chappals,frozen in my minds eye as a picture of poverty and sorrow.And Chanda,with limpid,big brown eyes, so short and thin and dark for her eight year old female self! Kaali, her mother would condescendingly call her,referring to her dark colour.Not thinking twice about Kaali Mata ,the bhagwan godess of good luck !"Bhaag achaay hon towe (she should be fortunate)! Chanda would coyly be touching my seven year old daughter"s cheap plastic toys. Begum baji,she would look at me heart wrenchingly. Did Shany go to Mk dunnel yesterday? My daughter would nod vigorously,making body movements,gestures which converted her innocent,pleasant self little presnce into a revulsing,falsely superior one."Mk Dunnel" , material induced superior self! Gone the beautiful innocent childhood world of imaginary kings,queens,cinderellas,snowwhites and fairies.Enter the materialistic,dangerous world of fast food,fast games,technology,lost innocence.All these "gods" are for sale,budha ,ganesh,the monkey, Kali perched comfortably on these shelves."Are you and Indian"?Asks the shopkeeper visibly proud of his Indian origin."No a Pakistani!"I say proudly and a little bit condescendingly,sure the No gets him! Call us "Pakis" in Britain,Sikhs,Indians,Muslims,Hindus,all Asians of color .Imran Khan,the cricketer,an epitome of Virtue?because he has married a godess ,well almost,a white godess!The Indian shopkeper starts looking at my daughter suspiciously while she plays with his cheap Chinese fans on a lower shelf. I quickly choose to buy the beautiful but cheap Chinese goodluck tea room frames at reduced prices and a fan for my daughter.I pay quickly, reluctantly parting with the pound coins,bieng of subcontinental origin. Islamic terorist! He is thinking.I look guiltily at him almost reading his mind. I did not destroy the Buddha statues, the Taliban did!I mutter,pretending to look educated,modern.Lucky me,gone to school,done higher education.Chanda and Ravi,in their broken world,unable to study,to play innocently,forever eying the food in our kitchen.Thanks to our "Nuclear Power Superior Complex" mentality of our poverty stricken,emotional world!I quickly take my daughter"s hand and the goods to get out of the shop,lest there is a discussion friendly or other wise and I am a tourist in a foreign land anyway,so proper it is almost frigid ,frozen!

1 comment:

  1. I wrote this piece in July 2001 pre september 11.I am deeply touched by child poverty,lack of opportunity,class distinction in both India and Pakistan.Add to this now there is religious,racial,ethnic intolerance which is dividing both the societies and tearing them apart and internally.We must rise above this and bring egalitarian ,humanistic values back.