Finally it’s over, I mean, nearly over. I am married now, the ceremony went on for nearly 15 days and now the ‘bidai’ ceremony is on, during which, so far, I have shed seven litres of tears. I don’t know how the ‘bidai’ will end and whether I’ll safely reach my husband’s home. Going by my eventful life, some gadbad is bound to happen. Already, my ex-husband Jagya (repentant and now in jail) has tried to frame my present husband, Collectorsaab (as I call him), and send him to jail. I have an obnoxious sister-in-law who’s likely to remain a pain in my neck for quite some time. When everything seems settled, unexpected tragedies happen to me. Who knows, during the ‘bidai’ a chandelier may fall on my head, I will be rushed to hospital, where with the help of the jealous doctor who’s my ex-husband’s wife, the evil sister-in-law will have me declared wrongly dead. That will call for the shedding of another 150 litres of tears. How will I survive this ordeal? Only my guardian ‘sponsors’ can say.
Life is so confusing. No one remembers the original theme of child brides, my life has taken so many turns—“child marriage, dadi’s harassment, Jagya’s tantrums, parents’ sufferings—no wonder my life story Balika Vadhu has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the record quantities of tears shed—88,000 litres so far. The Guinness people were so nice, they presented me with a gold-plated bucket to collect my future tears. I had to make so many adjustments, take on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde avatars. At home, I am the long-suffering bahu, meekly accepting all sorts of injustice. Dadima was really an old bitch but I had to massage her legs and prepare her masala chai though I really wanted to strangle her when she stopped me from going to school and asked me to burn my schoolbooks. As the obedient bahu I had to do it, though I was boiling inside. Mind you, I have another avatar where, outside the home, I fought kidnappers, challenged corrupt MLAs, exposed superstition, stopped child marriages. Heck, neither Hema Malini in Seeta aur Geeta nor Sridevi in Chaalbaaz did half of what I did in fighting the system.
But I have paid the price. My shoulders and back ache constantly because of the weight of my heavy ghagra choli outfits. I have become slightly bent over with all the jewellery I am forced to wear. My brain is dulled teaching the village idiots. How long can I go on calling my husband ‘Collectorsaab’? O, how I would love to prance around in a bikini and watch the reactions of Collectorsaab and Dadima. Still, let me focus on my achievements. The Rajasthan government is erecting my statue and the Union ministry of panchayati raj is to institute an Anandi Singh trophy for the country’s best sarpanch. And I will be around for the next 25 years though life will be easier without that Dadima.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Yet another long drawn boring serial. I hope its over now!
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