|The latest victims of bigotry|
“If we had a daughter and she came home with a boyfriend, how would you react?” Maggie asked me a few years ago. The context was a love marriage that had taken place rather too privately. We knew the girl whose parents were staff of the residential school where Maggie and I worked. The parents were opposed to their daughter’s affair and rightly so. That girl was found dead in her husband’s house a couple of months back.
“I would be amused,” I answered Maggie’s question. I explained that love was the most natural feeling between a young boy and a young girl. It should not, however, divert their attention from their career aspirations and life’s goals. On the contrary, love should invigorate their goals and aspirations.
Maggie sighed. The sigh probably meant how naively idealistic I was. But she persisted with her questioning. “Suppose the boy belongs to a different cultural, linguistic and religious background?” She asked.
“None of those things matter,” I said. “The only thing that matters is that the boy should deserve our daughter.” I assumed that Maggie and I would be ideal parents, so ideal that our daughter would know how to make the right choices.
I remember telling Maggie that day that the success of marital relationships owed to only one language, the language of love; only one culture, the culture of love; and only one religion, the religion of love. “How have we lived together as a happy couple for so many years?” I asked her. She goes to church and I even drop her at the church, but I don’t enter the church. I don’t believe. I have never questioned her faith and she has never questioned my faithlessness. We are friends. We continue to be friends. We are not husband and wife who try to dominate each other; we are friends who try to understand each other incessantly. That is the secret of happiness in married life. That requires no religion, no culture, no language.
Every honour killing in cases related to love marriages is a failure of love and success of absurd things such as religion, culture and other forms of bigotry.
“What if our daughter’s choice is bad?” Maggie questioned me that time.
“I’ll try to make her understand first. Then I’ll try to make the boy understand that. Of course, I would have made him a friend by then.”
“What if that doesn’t work?” Maggie persisted.
“I believe in destiny.” That was my answer. Yes, I would leave that to destiny. But I would do whatever I could to make sure that my daughter, my daughter who refused to take my counsel in spite of my love and understanding, would live happily with her choice. I would do whatever I could to make her life happy. That is love. How can love wish anything else?
When I read reports about killings in the name of honour – which is always associated with religion, culture and such absurd things – I know without doubt that there is no love involved in the murders. Love cannot murder. Love cannot harm anyone. Love can only do good to others. Religion kills. Culture kills. Bigotry kills.
My religion is love. My language is love. My culture is love.
Can you say that? If you can, you are creating a better world. All the best to you. If you are not sure, check yourself.