For people in a country that is supposed to be based on Gandhian principles of tolerance and pacifism and where people won’t eat meat because all animals are God’s creatures or whatever, most Indians I’ve observed sure seem to have a strange way of showing compassion for animals.
It looks like a special kind of hatred found only in people who may actually be too stupid to know better.
Maybe that’s cruel and exaggerated. After all, they decorate their godly cows so beautifully, right? And worship them at Pongal and paint them in fantastic colors. So how can I say that they’re hateful?
There are times when India really makes me laugh….
… I mean, other than things like watching Bollywood videos where it seems like people are always going through weird mating rituals replete with bright costumes, head bobbing, and peculiar synchronized dancing….
… or like the time that a student asked me to download a song for him. “There is this Hindi song, Hum Honge Kaamyab,” he said, “and it has been remade into an English song called ‘We Shall Overcome.’ Can you see if you can download it for us to play at next week’s cultural event?”
“Sure,” I said, deciding not to correct him. “I’ll see what I can do.”
But I couldn’t help sharing the story with someone else.
“No. You’re wrong,” they told me. “Of course it’s a Hindi song.”
“How do you know for sure?” I asked.
“Because we have a version of it in all our local languages.”
Pete Seeger, you’d better relinquish your copyright….
Anyway, this post isn’t about “We Shall Overcome,” but, there is some happy “overcoming” in this story. This post is about the mithun—an animal whose appearance “gave endless hopes to the people and fulfilled their aspirations.” The following is the text of a story, The Birth of Mithun. Because the text is a little too funny to be believable, I’ve also included a scan of the three pages from the book as proof that, unlike my claim that We Shall Overcome is an English song, this isn’t something I’ve made up in my spare time.
Yesterday was the three-and-a-half-year anniversary of my getting married to Amy! Pretty exciting! (At least for me, but I always tend to get excited by these monthly anniversaries that we get to celebrate).
Well, last Saturday was Divali, and it sure was a different experience here than what I was accustomed to growing up in Trinidad. Amy described it as seeming like Christmas, New Years, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. There was lots of gift giving, stores staying open for extended hours, “Divali Sales,” and so on…. And then, of course, there are the firecrackers and fireworks.
So, after threats of moving being necessary to take care of the termites at our flat, and the electrical problems we had, and after which, our woodwork wasn’t even fixed after several months had passed, Amy and I decided that it was time to actually act on our threat and find a new flat. Basically, despite really liking our flat, it sucked to have to make threats any time that we needed to get something fixed.
We gave our two months notice and soft of half-heartedly started to look for a place. At about the same time, one of our co-workers was going to be moving out of her flat. Her flat was nice, though not quite as nice, and it was also in a great location. Still, we didn’t want to just jump at the first thing that came our way; we told her that we were interested, but that we still wanted to look around a bit. Honestly, though, things just weren’t really showing up….
This last stretch of time living back in Santa Barbara has been a really nice break. For a while, SB was somewhat dry and dead…. Then came Amy’s acceptance to Harvard, leading us to pack everything we owned into a huge rental truck and drive it across the States to set up new temporary residence in Cambridge, MA. We lived there a while, but once her program was over, we packed everything up again, took it all to Pittsburgh, PA to store it, and flew back to SB to set up temporary camp until we figured out where life would take us next….
A long time ago, I wrote this story called Lunchtime at 2657. It was about my relationship with my grandfather, which has more-or-less always been positive. I wrote it while I was in Cambridge, MA—far away on the other side of the country. Everyone in my family was talking about how lousy things were with him—that he wasn’t seeing properly, he didn’t eat right, he wasn’t talking to anyone…. So I really had no idea what or who to expect to see when I returned to California earlier this year.
G’pa definitely isn’t quite the same person I remember. I remember younger eyes. I remember more sarcastic, clever comments. I remember more creative culinary creations than “peanut-butter, butter, and onions on white-bread.” But I didn’t expect him to be the same person that I had left two years prior either. And there is a lot of truth to what everyone else was saying, but, I guess, maybe it’s also just a matter of perspective….
I’m getting ready to leave again, for an indefinite time period, and with G’pa definitely much slower than before, I’m honestly not sure how much longer he’ll be around—and definitely not sure how much longer he’ll be around as his old self… which there is still a lot of left. In the meantime, I’m enjoying myself watching horrible TV with him (even though he can’t see), trying to get him to tell stories (even though he can’t remember them very well anymore—meaning fewer clever remarks) and eating lunch and drinking coffee with him on the weekends (if he manages to find the energy to get out of bed). And I’m still having fun with it and enjoying the time we’re getting to spend together.
So, here’s the story of the lunchtimes at 2657… again….
The day of the big concert is at hand, and I have so many important things on my mind….
In a little while, I’ll be celebrating my 14 year anniversary of moving to the States. I was eleven when I left, so most of my life has been spent here. Still, when I consider the question, “Where are you from?” my answer seems to vary, often depending on my mood or on who’s asking.