Sunday, 28 September 2008

a sudden death

we're now at the business-end of ramadan, with the last 10 days involving extra prayers. it's also a time of low-energy for me, as the fasting takes its toll. hence the lack of blogging for the last few days. ramadan will be ending either on tuesday or wednesday, and hopefully normal service will resume not too long after that. although i've been enjoying the not-blogging, in that it gives me more time to myself at night.

i did a little spot on community radio today on ramadan. i took the girls along, and they had a bit of a say as well. the eldest was totally opposed to being on radio until i assured her that absolutely no-one from her school would be listening to this station. this relaxed her quite considerably and made her submit to parental authority in a much more pliant fashion. i try not to pull rank in these sorts of situations, but every now and then i decide that i actually do know what's good for them. that is the prerogative of being a mother, after all. i console them with the fact that they can similarly torture their own kids, when they have some.

in any case, i thought they did wonderfully (well, i would, wouldn't i!!), and the presenter, mel driscoll, also did a good job in getting them to chat comfortably.

onto other news. i got news today of the sudden death of a very close friend of my father. he lived in india, and had heart attack yesterday and was gone today. the suddenness of it was shocking, and i can only imagine the grief that his family is going through.

it was a special friendship, in a time when india was a much more relaxed place than it is today. i remember my father telling me about how he would visit the hindu temple with his friend and partake of the prasad, and his friend would come to the mosque to take part in prayers. they did this naturally, as if it were no big deal.

such a difference from the india of today, where right-wing fundamentalist parties have a much stronger presence and communities are so much more divided. i don't know if that kind of thing happens as much nowadays. possibly in some areas it does, and more probably among the urban elite.

but when i look at my father today, i don't think he would do the same at all. and i don't think his friend would either. even though they have maintained an extremely strong bond, and were together in england only a few months ago, pounding the pavements of london as avid sightseers. maybe it's a factor of age, of increased religiosity, of the need to preserve the religion in a purer form.

i think of my own position. i would have no problem visiting a hindu temple, in fact i was invited to visit the hamilton temple a couple of years ago at their 5-year anniversary celebration. i'd be quite happy to watch their spiritual and ritual ceremonies, but i wouldn't join in with them. i'd certainly not eat the prasad, simply because i wouldn't feel comfortable with it.

similarly, i'd be happy to visit a church and sit through the sermon and prayers. i've attended christian funerals and a christening and a wedding. but i wouln't sing the hymns, i wouln't be saying amen to the prayers. i couldn't take the role of anything other than an independent observer.

i don't take this position from a point of view of disrespect, or because i believe myself to be superior to anyone else. it's more a fact that i don't agree with their belief system so wouldn't want to be a part of their prayers and practices. i always make a point of accepting invitations to people's places of worship or religious celebrations, because i do believe in breaking barriers and creating a sense of community. but there is a line which i won't cross, and i'm firm on that.

so anyway, hope my dad isn't feeling too sad tonight. and i send my best wishes and condolences to the bereaved family. it's yet another lesson about how unpredictable life is, and how important it is to make the most of it.

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