Recently, one of the the husband’s relatives invited us over for dinner – it was a small birthday celebration for their four year old daughter. Since it was Muharram (the Muslim period of mourning), they weren’t doing anything fancy, but it was the first time we would be going to their house, and it was a child’s birthday, so we had to take her a gift. The only problem was, it was a weekday, and getting back from work, going to a gift shop and then for dinner would have been tricky.
The (supposed) solution: We thought we’d give her a story book I had picked up for another friend’s four year old daughter (we never ended up visiting them, so the book was still with us).
The problem: I got home from work, found said book, looked at the list of stories, and thought uh-uh! You see, it was a beautifully illustrated Book of Classic Indian Stories for Children. The problem? The huge number of stories from Hindu mythology. Sample this:
The Brahmin Who Ate Up A God
Krishna and Kalia
The Kidnapping of Sita
Shiva and Sati
How Ganesha Got His Elephant Head
Almost the entire Hindu pantheon was in there! Of course, there were other stories too, but the Hindu mythology stores outnumbered them by a huge margin.
Here’s where the minefield comes in:
1) It would be the first time I was going to their house, and they lived with parents, who are likely to be
a lot a bit more conservative than youngsters.
2) It was Muharram, so a gift like this would be
3) Since I am a Hindu, it would look like I’m trying to
force sell my culture on to their daughter.
would might spoil relationships.
Ridiculous, I know. But given the whole Hindu-Muslim divide and how difficult it has been for some of the older people in the husband’s family to accept that he married out of religion, and a Hindu to boot, the book was completely inappropriate.
One of the husband’s aunts finally accepted me and said she “realizes that I am a girl who has been brought up with excellent values” and admits that she “treated her very unfairly” after eight years of marriage – yes, eight!
So, the only solution was to make a mad dash to the market before the shops shut down, which we managed – barely. We bought her coloring books and crayons. Said gift was a HUGE hit with the young girl – she finished coloring two pictures while we were there! – and the dinner went off very well.
What can I say? It’s all in a day’s work! 😉