The phone rang. I eagerly picked up the phone and listened to the person on the other side. I was shocked… I hadn’t expected this. I was sure about getting this right. I cried the whole day. My mother’s consoling words wouldn’t help. At that age however, I didn’t have the maturity to understand that such things didn’t matter much. It was my 10th board exam results. I had been a topper throughout school time. 10th exam results used to be the most awaited occasion in our small town and I was sure about getting in the first 2-3 ranks. But it happened otherwise, my mom’s colleague had called to inform that I was no where in the rank list. My marks shocked me even more – a just pass mark in Hindi and English grammar. I felt I had let down my teachers and one of them being my mother. The reason was even more heart-wrenching. We were outsiders and not localites. No outsider could come in the top ranks of the rank list. This in-spite of the fact that my parents had educated so many of them for almost 30 years and yet we we got penalized for no fault of ours.
Moving forward by some days. My mom was sick and had been hospitalized. My aunt took me to a prayer meeting telling we will pray for your mom’s well being. I was shocked to see the crowd and above all the atmosphere where everyone seemed to be shouting instead of praying. I never knew this form of prayer. People crying, howling, crying for the holy spirit, the preacher shouting that a John has been healed and a Peter has been cured of his mental illness (In a group of thousands of christians you will find at least one John and one Peter). As my cousin rightly put it, “I don’t need a preacher to tell me to love my parents and brothers. Its inborn and I will always do”.
Moving forward by 2 years. It was engineering admission time. Counselling sessions were going on batch by batch. I entered the hall. Everything was a smooth process and I soon got my admission card. I came out happy as a bee as I had got admission in the branch and college I wanted. I was just looking at the admission board of my college. The open quota in my branch had been closed with me although I belonged to BC quota. Why? I had no idea.
Three different events and three different circumstances but left me pondering. One case I didn’t get what I wanted just because I wasn’t a localite, next case a religious sentiment was used to influence me in believing that a prayer meeting could cure my mom something which medical science couldn’t achieve and third someone in the open quota had been denied admission to our college. In earlier times, people of the upper caste oppressed the people of the lower caste. Now its vice versa. In the name of quota system, truly worthy people are denied college seats and jobs. Is it necessary?
I can pray for my mother to get well but I can’t refute the fact that its finally medical science which will save my mother. There are stories galore in our religious books of various miracles but its just the faith which keeps us going. I can only pray and think everything will be fine but I can’t control whatever is going to happen to my mom.
We say we have become modern in outlook and we are practical but are we really so? Doesn’t caste, creed really creep into our mind at some point of time or the other. In all the above situations, whatever I went through had been done by well educated people living in the modern society. We are modern in flesh not in thoughts. We are biased, caste and creed matter to us, we live on our own terms thinking we are doing the right thing without thinking about the implications, religion takes precedence over medical science and we have combined all these with practicality due to which practicality has lost its meaning. We have many aunts and uncles who still think love marriages as taboo, girls wearing short skirts as immoral people, girls going for higher education as wrong as they wont get married and still say we are modern. What an irony!!!
By doing all this, what do we gain? Are we making the society a really better place for the future generations to live in and more primarily is it a better place for us to live in, are we really passing on true Indian values to our future generations, in short, are we right in being biased towards caste and religion? Our actions unknowingly affect many people. Stop and think!!!